RADIO ALARM CLOCKS -You [Bust Out] 3:26 // Wake Me When It's Over LP (After Hours 101) Cleveland '83: Powerpop got off to an early start in Cleveland with the likes of the Circus and the Raspberries (and the Choir and Cyrus Erie before that). The Radio Alarm Clocks did an excellent 1980 single as the Clocks, which joins "You (Bust Out)" on their LP. They're ex-Chronics, Pagans, & Les Raving Sounds: two of 'em are now in Einstein's Secret Orchestra. (More Clocks and Chronics --with links-- on Homework #8.)
RAMRODS -Metamorphosis 2:54 // Jivin & Twistin' 12" Buffalo, NY '86: The Ramrods were teen sensations on the energetic mid/late-'80s Buffalo garage-scene with the Splatcats [with Ramrods Pat Neal's brother, Chris], the Goo Goo Dolls++. The 'Rods thanked Jolt Cola on their LP and the nice people at Jolt sent them six more cases. All the sugar, twice the caffeine!
RATTLECATS -Back to Life 2:58 / Run My Life 1:37 (Worlach 0001) Austin '81: Texas wasn't much on power-pop, but the quality on the few discs that appeared was amazingly high. Like a dozen other Austin bands the Rattlecats formed in the aftermath of the Sex Pistols' show in San Antonio -though gtr/songwriters Glen Worley and Steve Lachowsky headed for more melodic territory than most. The Rattlecats toured extensively up and down I-35, though "Run My Life"/"Back to Life" was their only record. Early symptoms of multiple sclerosis forced Steve's retirement, but Glen and drummer Kevin Connolly went on to form the Rivals (who did an obscure cassette). Sadly, Steve died of complications from MS in 2002, but Rattlecats videos were played at his memorial service and there are rehearsal tapes as well: stay tuned for news of a more complete audio memorial...
RAVES -To Your Face 2:40 // Color of Tears LP (Hologrammophone) Atlanta '84: The Raves bucked that trend, had some success, and are now enjoying a resurgence on CD Everything is reissued now and you can visit them at the Raves website.
REAL KIDS -Senseless 3:43 // Outta Place LP (Star Rhythm 103) Boston '82: Loud 4/4 pop'n'roll was the heart of the Boston sound from 1975 well into the '80s. Boston bands strove for commercial success with a wide-eyed sincerity and desperation that most other bands outgrew in a matter of a gig or two Maybe it's the opposite side of Boston's comfortable despair of ever seeing the Red Sox win the World Series. But the bands with the greatest staying power seem to have been those with the least developed (or best-sabotaged) ambition, including the Classic Ruins, the Lyres, and the 2x4s / Turbines / Hovorka legacy. But the first and best of the bunch was John Felice and the Real Kids, who, between '76 and '88 or so, became the Taxi Boys, then the Real Kids again [Andy Paley producing "Senseless"], then Primevils, then Lowdowns and finally the Real Kids again. Splinters turned up in Classic Ruins, Varmints, Last Ones and half a dozen others. Now that virtually their entire back catalog is available on Billy Miller's splendid Norton label, the Real Kids are recording again and performing several times a year. Don't miss'em.
REGULAR GUYS -It's a Secret / Too Dumb 2:33 (National Recording Artists) Kansas City '80: Kansas City sported an energetic power-pop scene of its own in the mid-'70s, anchored by the legendary Leopards, and, later, a small stable of bands on the Titan label (Boys, Secrets, Gary Charlson). But there wasn't much of a scene left by the time the Regular Guys released their terrific EP in 1981, Trouser Press put it on an annual top-ten list but it sank with little trace. Fortunately, 15 studio tracks from the studio and some great live tunes are about to be obscure no more: the Regular Guys' "Jayhawk Pop" is out on H2D this spring. Mark Gilman still plays with the DeRita Sisters, who've got a fistful of CDs available...
RERUNS -Since You Gotta Cheat 2:35 (Spider 102) Detroit '78
RERUNS -She Hates Me Now (FTM Records) Detroit '79:
The second release on the Spider label (after the Romantics' debut) belonged to the Reruns -a massive triple-Rickenbacher barrage of poprock (whose punkier flip was on H2D #1). "She Hates Me Now " comes from their neglected second 45. It's a great song that kinda got lost in an earnest, but misguided attempt to recapture the sound of 1960s "artificial stereo." It's modestly remixed on the new Teenline #101...
RESPONSIBLE TEENAGERS -Temporary Feeling 2:14 (Responsible) NYC '80 : Meanwhile, back in Gotham, the Responsible Teenagers cut their one-and-only... They're Will Dial [Dogbowl, Chris Butler, Wirebirds++], Steve Dansiger [Nightmares, King Missile, Pianosaurus, GG Allin, Dogbowl+++] and Larry Kefer, who wrote "Temporary Feeling." Corey "Loog" Brennan appears on the sleeve and "R+R Warhead" is his song...but it's not on the record and neither is Corey: he replaced Will and designed a sleeve for a theretofore sleeveless 45. (Corey went on to be a founding member of Bullet Lavolta, the Lemonheads, and Busted Statues. After extended battles with drugs and homelessness, Larry died in 2000: R.I.P.)
RIFF DOCTORS -Falling 2:09 (Coyote 003) Durham, NC '83
RIFF DOCTORS - Turn Me On 1:47 Durham, NC '85 demo: In perhaps powerpop's darkest hour, "jangle" appeared in North Carolina. Partly from the usual powerpop roots (Mitch Easter loved Big Star) and a jangly guitar sound that Mitch inexpensively resurrected from mid-period Byrds records -but just as much from Don Dixon's long-running country-pop band, Arrogance. Unleashed on the masses, jangle quickly degenerated into guitar-band mumbling and jamming, but you might think of Frank Bednash's Riff Doctors as the first of the counter-revolution: twangy, hook-laden, brief, and totally popped-out. A couple years later, he'd hooked up with NYC's Donna Esposito (ex-Cyclones [Homework #8]), and cut an amazing demo (with Mitch) that went nowhere til it became the B-side of the debut Cowboy & Spingirl 12" (Subway UK). Frank & Donna are now Toothpaste 2000. (Their newest CD on Parasol is called "Instant Action.")
ROCKERS -I Want to Tell You 2:05 / Don't Leave Me Tonight 3:15 // EP (Alcatraz) S.F. '80: San Francisco's Rockers, briefly grasped a perfect mix of British Invasion harmony and Flamin Groovies twang on their 1980 four-track... Most of them became the Finders. Squid Music has reissued the Rockers EP and some amazing Finders material on CD...with much more in-the-works.
ROMANTICS -Can't Tell You Anything 3:10 (Spider 101) Detroit '77: In Detroit, hard-rock, proto-punk, garage-rock and power-pop always mixed rather freely. (Indeed, Detroit punk almost always had something else mixed-in.) There were already dozens of pop-rock combos riffing and bashing away when the Romantics hit the charts in '78 -even if they lacked the latter's handsome outfits... ... "Anything" comes from the Romantics' first 45 on Spider. They followed it with a handful of tracks for Bomp before taking Nemperor to the big-leagues. Wally and Mike are still goingwith 22-year veteran Coz Candler and Clem Burke... See www.romanticsdetroit.com
The RPMs were just as deeply involved with the Milwaukee scene, although songwriter Dennis Laing was a recent import from the UK [Aberdeen & London] where he'd hung out and played with folks who went on to be the Ruts and Rusty Egan from the Rich Kids. Others swapped into and out of Arousing Polaris, Plasticland and the Red Ball Jets. 10 more songs got recorded but just two got released. Dennis is still playing and writing in Florida, singer Brent Mireau has a new band called Slacker, and original drummer Rob McCuen remains active on the Milwaukee scene.
SAUCERS -She's Alright 3:29 (Gustav 002) New Haven '81: The Saucers, from New Haven/New York/Ohio, went their separate ways soon after their second single in 1981 (#1 appears on H2D #2). Craig Bell (Rocket from the Tombs, Mirrors) and his Gustav label temporarily called it quits, while Seth Tiven went on to form Dumptruck. A Saucers CD retrospective is out now on GTA.
JEFF SCOTT & JOSEF MARC -I Found Her (Mirror 12155) Oakland '77: Jeff Scott and Josef Marc were in the original Dils, but when Kim Fowley came calling, Jeff and Josef said nothankyou. So while the Kinmans were playing for Kim in L.A., J&J's Hitmakers and the Nuns were playing the first ever punk gig at Mabuhay Gardens. The Hitmakers left us one U.S. 45, this EP with "I Found Her", and then a UK 45 (and video) recorded at Surrey Sound in '83. The other Hitmakers became the Crawdaddies, Jeff became an economist, and Josef's amused himself by playing with everyone from Jonathan Richman to Metallica's graphic designer... Website coming soon!
SCREEN TEST -Anytime 3:22 (Northside 705) Skaneatles, NY '80: Upstate, meanwhile, pop sounds ripened more purely and unselfconsciously than maybe anywhere else in the nation. When Syracuse's horribly under-appreciated Flashcubes split, three of them became Screen Test on the excellent Northside label. Screen Test's 45s and cassette tracks are being reissued in '03 by Japan's Airmail Recordings: see www.flashcubes.com for further details.
SECRETS -Wishful Thinking 2:49 (SSP 1001) Scotts Valley, CA '80: Gary Ekin and Steve Jonsson formed the Santa Cruz edition of the Secrets in 1979 after their surf band Rocky Road broke up. They're no relation to the N.J., Toronto or Kansas City bands, though all were active at the time... Philadelphian John Reynolds joined on guitar (ex-Bolivians: Homework #7) and they set to work on a 4-track Tascam, which after some months yielded their "Wishful Thinking" 45. There was a major reshuffling in '82, but the Secrets kept filling clubs til they broke up for keeps in 1985.
SERVICE -Time Release 2:28 (Tremor 011) Detroit '80: Cinecyde was the Tremor label's most successful -and prolific- band, but every one of Tremor's singles has its moments: both sides of the Service's lone 45 (Tremor #11) are jangly classics... Service played hard and loud but stuck to the pop stuff in the studio: more tracks appear on three Detroit compilation LPs, and there's (louder) unreleased MP3s online.
SEX CLARK FIVE -EP: Neita Grew Up / I Want You Mine (Records To Russia) Huntsville, AL '86
SEX CLARK FIVE - Valerie 1:03 // Strum & Drum LP (Records to Russia 408) Huntsville AL '87: Northern Alabama was surprisingly jangle-friendly (Primitons, Carnival Season), but Huntsville's Sex Clark Five appeared in 1986 with an explosion of British-Invasion-damaged pop gems -and a jangle-factor of zero. Two forty-fives, a couple flexis, three albums, maybe more. All wonderful. Sure the Five have a bit of an attention-span problem, and their stunning skills at mimicry (the "Ketchup" EP) can distract from their more original moments, but their killer hooks-per-inch of vinyl ratio easily rates with GBV or Game Theory. Three-plus 7"s, several flexis, 3 LPs. Reissue CDs are on Beehive Rebellion (contact firstname.lastname@example.org), and their new LP "Crimson Panzer" is as great as ever.
SGT. ARMS -Walking on the Roof 3:47 (Active Duty 11) Nashville '82: Across the state in Nashville, Sgt. Arms was Bill Lloyd's first recorded band, though he's trading vocals with long-time pal/collaborator David Surface The Practical Stylists 45 came next in 1983, then Bill's first solo LP: Feeling the Elephant (Throbbing Lobster -now on DB CD). Everything (with or without Radney Foster) is highly worthwhile, especially his recent LPs.
SHANE CHAMPAGNE -Lonely Next to You 2:15// 10" (Pure & Easy 120) Boston '80: Shane Champagne were regulars from the more commercial end of Boston's early '80s scene: their classic "Lonely Next to You" exemplified Boston's big-production/ monster-riff gtrrock sound. Gary Shane later had a string of Boston radio hits with the Detour (all also on Johnny V's Pure & Easy label) and now helms the Silvertone Prophecy Band. David Champagne went on to Pink Cadillac, then formed Treat Her Right with the late Mark Sandman [Morphine], and now sings with the Heygoods.
SHIVVERS -Teen Line 3:40 / When I Was Younger 2:51 (Fliptop) Wisconsin '80: Wisconsin's Shivvers, of course, contribute our title track, "Teen Line," as well as its flip. Their line-up included some interesting characters from the new-wave's first generation, including Jim Eanelli (Bombs, Blackholes), Jim Richardson (Lubricants, Craze) and Scott Krueger (Orbits+++). The complete Shivvers and Orbits studio sessions plus some hot live tracks are now on "Til the Word Gets Out", (Teenline #101 CD) available from us, natch. Scott Krueger has also helped compile History in 3 Chords, a 2-CD compilation of Wisconsin punk-era bands. Vocalist Jill Kossoris has a new CD called "Invisible." And Spring 2003 brings Breck & Scott's amazing guitarpop duets "Echoes in a Warehouse" --right here on H2D.
SHOES -Dance in Your Sleep 2:22 / No I Don't 2:30 // One in Versailles LP (Deux) Zion, IL '74-75: About the only reason powerpop survived the 1980s was the scene in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. In Champaign, Illinois, Jon Ginoli's [Outnumbered, Pansy Division] fanzine Hoopla helped light the flame in '75, but by then the Shoes had already recorded three full albums a half-dozen miles south of the Wisconsin border The first of those to hit vinyl was titled "One in Versailles" (on accounta gtrist/songwriter Gary Klebe spent a semester in France). Everything is now reissued on Black Vinyl CDs, including all their early/indie stuff on a 3CD set called "As Is."
SHY -It Ain't Easy 2:55 (Shy) Detroit '84
SHY -Gone So Long 2:45 (Shy) Detroit '85: By the time the Shy waxed these two Rockpile/bubble-billy treats in '84 and '85, Detroit powerpop had thoroughly fizzled out -along with the Romantics, leather blazers & skinny ties. The Shy have an earlier 45, a website and a new CD...with several LPs in-between.
SIDE EFFEX -Love You Tonight 3:08 (Texas Red) Dallas '85: Dallas' Side Effex were certainly an anomaly in 1985, though their Marshall Crenshaw-ish side and the loud guitars probably presented protective cover. They did two more 45s, plus the theme song for the 1988 Texas Rangers (yeah, when George Dubya owned them). Also a bunch of unreleased material and a 1990 project called T-Roy. Current ex-Effex projects include the Nomadic Farmers and Big Methuselah. (all at MP3.com)
SIDEWALKS -Natalie 2:00 (Flying Scooter 001) Milwaukee '81: "Natalie" is a chugging, loopy, haplessly sexist powerpop classic from the Sidewalks from Milwaukee. They never quite explain what their interest is in telling us to "keep your hands off Natalie," as it's clear that they can't touch her either. More news soon, and maybe more music, too! [Bassist John Bartlein is an engineer/producer now with Advantage Media in L.A.]
SIGHS -Gotta Get Control 2:21 / Charity  1:19 // 12" EP (Relief 101) Western Mass / CT '85: Out in Western Mass. the Sighs took a purer powerpop approach with 1985's "Control" & "Charity." They did a '92 LP for Charisma and one more indie before calling it quits. Sighs guitarist Dave MacDonald was previously in the Cardiac Kids, while multi-instrumentalist Tommy Pluta now leads Mary's First (on Omad Records)...
SKUNKS -You Really Know How to Put the Pressure On// 2nd LP (Republic) Austin '82: The Skunks were ace punk'n'rollers from Austin who by 1982 had garnered enough of a buzz -and enough money- to hire Earle Mankey to produce their second LP. The punks gagged, but the world ended up with a terrific wad of gtr-pop-rock (that nevertheless languished in the dollar-bins well into the '90s). Check out their terrific live CD called Earthquake Shake.
SPEEDIES -Let Me Take Your Foto 3:05 (Golden Disc 1003) NYC '79
SPEEDIES -Something On My Mind 3:55 (Speedies 2) NYC '81: Thanks to Milk'n'Cookies, the NY Dolls, and their many admirers New York City power-pop and poprock tended to have deep roots in glam-rock -and Brooklyn's Speedies are as fine an example of that as any. Apart from the ancient 21-year-old John Carlucci [Fuzztones, Super Honkey] they were all teenage prodigies. Max's and other clubs loved them for breaking attendance records, even if it was with their underage high-school classmates... After two fine snot-pop 45s, however, both guitarists split for college... In September 2005 the Speedies finally hit the big time, when Hewlett-Packard added "Let Me Take Your Photograph" to their wonderful "frames" ad-campaign and the Speedies debuted their "You Need Pop" collection on iTunes. Their new website is speediesremix.com
SPONGETONES -Cool Hearted 2:58 // Beat Music LP (Ripete 2154) Charlotte, NC '82
SPONGETONES -Marianne 2:32 // Torn Apart EP (Ripete) Charlotte NC '84: Charlotte, NC's Spongetones did a couple 45s and two solid early-80s albums of terrific pop lovingly soaked up from the Beatles'n'Monkees, all fronted by hookmeister Jamie Hoover [ex-Happy Eggs]. Everything's been reissued in a buncha places and most all of it's available at the Spongetones' website. The Spongetones newest CD, "9" is out now at cdbaby.com, and Jamie's collaboration with Bill Lloyd is available on Paisley Pop.
SQUARES -999 Names of Love 2:33 (own label) Milwaukee '85
SQUARES -Blue Note 3:18 // Enjoy Yourself LP (Boat 1203) Milwaukee '87: For the last 35 years or so Wisconsin has turned out more powerpop and poprock bands per capita than anyplace else on earth. (Especially if you exclude its capital Madison, where they've been spewing out twisted arty hippiefunk and gawdknowswhatelse for just as long.) From Milwaukee come the Squares, who'd soaked up plenty of the local pop heritage and maybe a bit of what Prince was up to one state to the left on the way to "999 Names of Love." They started out as the Post Raisin Band on the Red Snerts compilation, then did an album, a cassette and this 45 as the Squares. They now carry on in a janglier/rootsier vein as the Wooldridge Brothers [their new Gulcher CD is called "Unreel Hits"], while Joe Vent's with Milwaukee's long-running Yell Leaders.
SQUIRRELS FROM HELL -I Can't Stay 2:20 (Rodent 02) NYC '84: By the mid '80s, innumerable bands from Beat Rodeo to the Raunch Hands to Scruffy the Cat and a buncha other Coyote bands cranked out one great country-pop tune after another, but uniformly failed to find an audience: the Squirrels from Hell joined the parade in 1984 with "I Can't Stay." They carry on still in a more trashpunk/RadioBirdman mode as "The Band New York City Couldn't Kill." There's a 45 on Shimmy-Disc and two CDs on their Rodent label: check in at hellville.com.
START -No Direction 2:41 (Win 3135) S.F. '81: San Francisco's punk and art-scenes cross-pollinated pretty freely (mutually allied against whatever warmed-over psych or Huey Lewis frat-rock the aging hippies were up to), but the Flamin Groovies had the powerpop business more-or-less to themselves. So it's no surprise that Start (named for the Jam song) made little impact with this terrific Mod-pop 45 in '81. With original Sleepers member Paul Draper. Guitarist Bart Thurber founded House of Faith Studios, now in Oakland.
TAXI BOYS -Bad to Worse 2:10 // EP (Bomp 4019) Boston '81
TAXI BOYS -I Can't Kick 2:40 (Star Rhythm 1002) Boston '82: The key to all of the Real Kids' name-changes is that they only called themselves Real Kids when John Felice and Alpo were both in the band at the same time. And every time Alpo quit or got fired John'd go pick another new name. The Taxi Boys (named after a Depression-era series of Hal Roach film shorts) were mostly Felice with Matthew MacKenzie [Reddy Teddy, Willie Alexander] and Billy Cole [Baby's Arm, later Real Kids]: they did one single and two EPs -one large ('81), one small ('82). Most everything by the Real Kids (and family) is currently available from Norton Records.
TEARAWAYS -Any Other Girl 1:47 / Don't Feel So Bad 2:37 / Or Something Like That 2:12 (Stellar 1964) Santa Barbara '81: There was no way three of the four astoundingly great poptunes on the Tearaways' lone EP weren't gonna appear here (though we agree how sleazy it is to put entire records on comps). They're still active and recording on Pinch Hit and there's a whole CD of early stuff on Not Lame.
THIRD FLOOR STRANGERS -Last Chance 2:31 // Last Chance LP (Trelaine) Buffalo '81: Third Floor Strangers hailed from Buffalo, NY, but they're included here with the Southern stuff because the sound of "Last Chance" is pure Big Star. The connection is that several of'em were in Buffalo's Party Nuggets, who backed Alex in '81 or so (there's an excellent live tape or two in circulation). Two were also in the Promise, who did an excellent poprock LP in maybe '82. With Bernie Kugel [Good, BCMK, Mystic Eye], though he's not credited on the LP...
MARK THOR -Holiday Fire 2:45 (Indy HUB141) Boston '76: Marc Thor's first 45, from 1976 or maybe earlier, took its inspiration from the Kinks' "Hollywood Boulevard" days. Check out his great "Trak" 45 from '79 [See Homework #2 for this and further details].
TINY VOICES -Please Write Back Soon 2:49 (Loud & Round 101) L.A. '85: Tiny Voices don't seem to've done anything besides their 1985 single, "Please TARGET="_BLANK" Write Back Soon." Writer Franklin Bruno remembers seeing them play on local Orange County TV perhaps a year later...something about a checked sportcoat and big hair... Bassist Ronnie Gomez has lately been playing with Kristian Hoffman.
TOMS -Let's Be Friends Again 3:02 / You Must've Crossed My Mind 2:49 // first LP (Black Sheep 0001) NJ '79: The Toms were early exemplars of the NYC/NJ multi-tracked one-man guitar-pop "scene" (Richard Heyman, Riff Doctors, East River Pipe). One very scarce and impressive 1979 LP (now out of print --again-- on Not Lame) before our hero Tom Marolda decided he'd get himself a "real" band. There followed two or three more Toms LPs, depending on how you count, then the Horizontal Ladies Club, which sold well into five figures in Japan. Tom's been a major-league recording engineer through most all of that time, but he swears he's hard at work getting his archives back into print.
TOOLS -Over Now 3:35 (Subterranean 11) S.F. '81: Along with the Sleepers, the Tools were one of San Francisco's best artpunk combos. But by their third and final 7" they'd gotten pretty catchy, though "Over Now" is still at least as psychedelic as it is powerpop... Band-members included Mike Fox pre-Sick Pleasure and Code of Honor, and Greg Baker pre-B-Team & Yo.
TORPEDOS -2486 3:31 (Sub Par) NYC/N.J. '86: New Jersey's Torpedos who dress up "2486" with a cool, garagey doubled guitar-and-piano riff. The Torpedos got their official start in college, but Paul Kmiotek, Joel Bachrach and Frank Nardozza started playing together in 9th grade in River Edge NJ and the rest are from the next town over.
TOYS -Livin' Fast 2:09 (Maxwell 1003) Buffalo NY '80: Just a little ways 'round the lake Teenline #2 next arrives at Buffalo, the western terminus of upstate New York's long-running powerpop scene. The Toys stage shows were legendary -as you might expect from the Kalicki brothers (ex-Aunt Helen), guitarist Mick Tyler (prone to lengthy "Elvis fuck-up" stage antics), and a scantily-clad bass-player named Meat Cleaver. The "Livin' Fast" single and a comp track were all they released before they had to change their name to the New Toys... There's a Toys collection called "Say it Again" due out in March '03. It's all © 13th Street Entertainment/Kevin K Music BMI --who also have Kevin K's own band on CD.
TRADEMARKS -Magic in Her Eyes 3:24 (Smash) Boston '81: The Trademarks came from the least-punky extremes of the Boston scene but also mixed powerpop and British Invasion with more than a trace of North-of-Boston '60s popstars Teddy & the Pandas (who wrote the Yachts' "Look Back in Love"). Following a flexi freebie from Take It! Magazine, "Magic in her Eyes" was their first vinyl. After the Trademarks guitarists Dave Morrison and Matt Langone [Peytons, Bangs, now with NYC's Trash Mavericks] played with the Sorrows/Poppees' Jet Harris in Juke Savages. Vocalist #3 (Jack Moran) now runs the Paris Hard Rock Café (Please tell us if there's a copy of this on the wall there!).
JUSTIN TROUBLE -Ponytail 2:06 (Casino) NYC '81 : Justin Trouble [a/k/a Justin Love] and Louie Louie [a/k/a ?] were mainstays of the post-N.Y. Dolls trashabilly scene and did their best stuff by far when they collaborated [on this and Justin's first LP]. Johnny Thunders produced and wrote the flipside [on H2D #12], and Brett Wilder [Backbones] plays bass. Justin's art is now online at justinlove.com.
TROUBLE BOYS -Nice Girl 3:28 (Taint 415) Toledo, OH '82: Toledo's John Stain went to high-school with Corey from the Necros, and John's punk band, The Stain, debuted in 1980. But before the Stain got going in earnest (three 7"s, an LP and gobs of comp tracks), John spent some time in the Trouble Boys, who were doing quite well playing frat gigs. Along the way he invested his pop-gotten gains in a nightclub ("Stain," natch) and started interviewing the bands he booked there for Thrasher, for whom he's written for 20+ years. "Nice Girl" ('82) is the Trouble Boys' only vinyl [they're no relation to Dave Rave's Toronto combo].
TUFF DARTS -Head over Heels 2:37 // LP (Sire 6048) N.Y.C. '78: Tuff Darts never lived down their rep as the lone commercial turkey of Seymour Stein's utterly visionary '76-77 new-wave signings to Sire: Ramones, Richard Hell, Dead Boys, Saints, Radio Birdman, Talking Heads, Rezillos... Robert Gordon was still in the band when Seymour started talking to them at CBGB, but the 'Darts cut a surprisingly solid pop-rock LP behind Tommy Frenzy (who's still going solo) that makes a nice point of continuity between the New York Dolls' glitter-trash and the punk scene.
TURNING CURIOUS -Out Into the Light 3:22 // Soul Light Season LP (Relapse / Metro-America 1014) Campaign, IL '85: Mitch Easter produced Metro-America labelmates Turning Curious from Champaign, who started off as the B-Lovers before changing their name in the van on the way to Mitch's Drive-In. Their vocalist Nick Rudd went on to Big Maybe, the Arms of Someone New, Blown [with Turning Curious' Steve Scariano] and solo. Paul and Rick and Nick are still active, and lots of their older stuff is now out again on CD: see parasol.com for further info.
TWEEDS -I'm Thru 1:55 (Autobahn 12) Boston '80?
TWEEDS -I Need that Record 3:18 (Autobahn 30) Boston '80: So...when did MTV introduce their theme-riff? The Tweeds first released "I Need that Record" on a 1980 12" EP, then again on this extremely limited (promo-only?) single. But who copped whom? Either way, those dum duh-dum duh-dum duh-dum chords were a perfect wrap to Marc McHugh's rocking love-song to the great record-shops of yore. "I'm Thru" is more typical of the rest of the Tweeds output (at least 4 other 45s and the 12"): kinda edgy pop, heavily influenced by mid-Reprise period Kinks. (Boston must've been the only place on the planet where "Victoria" made the top 20...)
27 VARIOUS -Yes, Indeed 3:24 // Yes, Indeed LP (Susstones 531) Minneapolis '89: 27 Various were an intermittently brilliant garage-pop-psych outfit on the always worthwhile (and recently-revived) Susstones label. It's the title song of their 2nd LP. After a stint in Antenna, 27V/Susstones head honcho Ed Ackerson formed Polara, who have 4 LPs on Interscope and Susstones.
TWO MINUTES 50 -Forget It 2:34 (Stark 001) Portland '81: One might guess that the band-name of 2 Minutes 50 referred to the ideal powerpop song-length. If so, it was certainly a much-needed message in 1981 Portland, Oregon, where the Wipers (as great as they were), The Blackouts, Steve Fisk's Pell Mell, and the Pigface label crowd had established the five-to-twenty minute range as the norm, and many, many, many far less talented bands were all too happy to follow their lead. (It's more likely the name is a cult-literary reference, as there's an unrelated 2 Minutes 50 from Minnesota in '87.) 2m50 leader Duane Jarvis' newest is "Certified Miracle." (BTW "Forget It" times out at 2:34...
UPSTARTS -Live Each Day 2:53 (Plum Records 1002) Boston '82 debut 7"
UPSTARTS -Head Over Heels 2:47 // Boppin in the 80s EP (Start 42444) Boston '83: Ted Richard bought his first guitar his senior year of college --and the Upstarts were opening for the Go-Gos just one year later. But Boston's burgeoning hardcore scene and the garage thing after that wiped out Boston's pop-scene in a hurry. After the "Live Each Day" single and a 12" EP (produced by Peter Dayton of LaPeste) they recorded six songs with Will Garrett, but that session never got released...
U.S. MODS -Government 1:33 (Treblephone 52) Mesquite, TX '80: U.S. Mods hailed from Mesquite, Texas, and pressed 200 copies of their handsomely low-budget 45. Guitarist/vox Pat McKanna went on to the Trees, then did Lockjaw and Medicine Show Caravan in the '90s. Drummer Reagan Eskridge was borrowed from VVV stars, Quad Pi. (The two bands played an outdoor gig at a Dallas-area McDonald's in honor of Ray Kroc's 25th fast-food anniversary or something like that: we're lstill hoping to hear the tape...) And while you'd never know it from the lo-fi splendor of "Government," producer Ace Bowen went on to engineer the likes of Culture Club...
VAN DYKES -Breakin My Heart 3:10 (Black CB411) Boston '84 : The Van Dykes were a short-lived Boston combo with Frank Dehler, an original member of Unnatural Axe, and long-time La Peste drummer, the late Roger Tripp. Along with "Breakin My Heart," they did a nice swirly/jangly number on Claws!, the third Throbbing Lobster comp. Frank, Craig Kutner and Kurt Henry (also Phobia) went on to Tall Paul (with Red Jodry ex-Nova Mob).
VERTEBRATS -Anyday 3:35 from Stabs In The Dark V.A. LP (Pogo) Champaign IL'82: The Vertebrats did one EP and two amazing compilation tracks. Fortunately, there's now a full CD of their original studio stuff (Thousand Day Dream) and a live CD, too, on Parasol.
JIMMY VIGTONE -When The Radio's On 3:15 (Alpha Media 002) Boston '82: Jimmy Vigtone barely got noticed back in '82, but assisted by Tom Bull (Outlets, Swingers Resort) and "Django Buzzwad," he released a fine bit of barely-competent Rickenbacher powerpop-rock on the flip of "I Like It" -the Gerry & the Pacemakers oldie. Later that same year he and Django did a couple even better powerpop tracks with the Clicks [Teenline #7]. Jimmy's now with powerpop stars Blue-Eyed Mary, and Django (William Garrett) went on to produce and/or record the likes of Rubber Rodeo, Swingers Resort, O Positive, Treat Her Right and 'til tuesday (he's now at electracraft.net). Alpha-Media was Garrett's own label for bands he produced (Vigtone, Clicks, The Scam, Pink Cadillac and the Upstarts).
WAYFARERS -Wonderful Wonder 2:47 (FR Lolita 100009/EV7) N.Y.C. '85: Hoboken's Wayfarers generated just one 45. We'd been mistaken about a Coolies connection (what are the odds there'd be two bands from Hoboken with leaders named Cary and Dave?), but we're hoping for more info soon. The Yankee-pop-friendly Lolita label in France released this crystalline pop treat in 1985.
WEDNESDAY WEEK -Boys 3:59 (Sweden Spins 002) L.A. '88 fanclub 45: Wednesday Week first appeared on the wonderful Warf Rat Tales comp LP in the latter days of the Paisley Underground: the Callan sisters and David Nolte [Clockwatchers, Radio Tokyo producer Joe's bro] cut a couple 12"s, flirted with sub-Bangles majorlabeldom, then put out three [or more?] of these great fanclub-only EPs. "Boys" is from their 1988 second.
WILD GIRAFFES -Love Me 2:29 (Neck AAA2) Cleveland '78
WILD GIRAFFES -Don't Know About You 3:06 (Neck AAA3) '78-9
WILD GIRAFFES -Right Now 3:23 // Right Now LP (Neck NA-01) Cleveland '81: Cleveland's Wild Giraffes were always too punk for the powerpop set, too arty for the Pagans crowd (though they're on Neck, the Pagans's first label), and way too hummable for yr more generic punks. They didn't help their careers by getting poppier as they went along, as these tracks from their 2nd and 3rd singles should demonstrate. They still stuff enough godlike riffs into 1978's "I Don't Know About You" to power half-a-dozen mere mortal long-players. (They did one of those too...)
THE WIND -Wonder Track 2:36 // Where It's At LP (Cheft 1001) Miami Beach '82: The Wind, finally, did an A+ bit of sincere underage Beatles-worship on their "Where It's At" LP, with surprisingly successful forays into the sounds of the Zombies, Kinks, Motown & maybe even the 1910 Fruitgum Co... Lane Steinberg is now active with Shane Faubert's Unheard pop series, drummer Steve Burdick later led The Answer [Teenline #8], and all three of them are still collaborating long-distance as Tan Sleeve (on Bus Stop). Meanwhile, the Wind LP is freshly reissued on the Yellow Pilz label (with their EP and extras). LP #2 is on Midnight.
WINDBREAKERS -Girl for Me 2:28 / Young Republicans 2:18 (Big Monkey 007) Jackson, MS '82: To say there was no pop-scene in Jackson, Mississippi in 1981 would be a titanic understatement. The Windbreakers listened closely to their favorite records, but they had to make their own way in the studio. They settled into their trademark jangly guitar-rock sound rather quickly, but not before they'd explored some seriously power-poppy terrain on "Meet the Windbreakers," their 4-song debut. They recorded a buncha LPs, lots more solo, and helped out a ton of Deep South bands in the years that followed. Bobby & Tim recently joined Mitch Easter to record two new songs for a Windbreakers retrospective out now on the Paisley Pop label. Bobby's newest is on Not Lame.
YANKEES -Take it Like a Man 3:07 // LP (Big Sound 037) N.Y.C./Connecticut '78: Jon Tiven started off doing radio and a fanzine as a huge Big Star fan in New Haven, then slid into a "business arrangement" with Alex Chilton, who was already busily pissing away his musical capital. Jon got stiffed with the tab for what became the "One Day in NYC" LP, but still played guitar on the "Singer Not the Song" EP after Alex broke his hand. Next Tiven hooked up with Teenline fave Tommy Hoehn for one-and-a-half great singles as Prix (great band-name, but they insisted it had to be pronounced en français) then later in '78 came the Yankees... Chilton, Ivan Julian [Voidoids], Roger C. Reale and Van Duren assist. Jon's produced a zillion old soul greats from Arthur Alexander to to Wilson Pickett, most of them backed by his own band (formerly Jon Tiven's Ego Trip).
ZODIO DOZE -Americommandos 2:52 from cardboard postcard/photo-flexi (Trak 4) Boston '81 : Zodio Doze hung around the Boston scene through 1983 or so, doing catchy-but-time-warped popwave, but their earlier postcard flexi (it looks like something you remember cutting off a cereal box in 1966) featured some amazing vocals and a first-rate powerpop hook... Bart Caruso is ex-Buzzarians [Teenline #7].
Z-ROCKS -Real World 3:05 // LP (Z Records) Houston '81: Texas poprock was usually well-mixed with art, new-wave or punk, but Houston's Z-Rocks give it a pretty pure blast in the "Real World"though their main claim to fame was their "Teacher is a Punk" 45. There's a double[!]-LP that never came out. Check out songwriter Randy Soffar's inventing career (and other musical exploits) at www.bumperdumper.com. Guy Schwartz carried on with the New Jack Hippies -and more at bluesguy.com.
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