All-Star Jam

 Posted by
Jan 242008

What’s on your mind?


  49 Responses to “All-Star Jam”

  1. sammymaudlin

    I’m ready to plunge into The Raspberries. (I know I’m probably the last person here to do so.)

    Should I start with one of the LPs or a $5.99 “Greatest”?

  2. BigSteve

    My experience with the Rasps was buying the Greatest Hits album and wishing I’d bought the single. Actually, wishing I’d borrowed the single.

  3. Mr. Moderator

    I’ll second what BigSteve says. I’ve got the standard GH on vinyl. If you can find a copy of that for a dollar, grab it. You, like me, might find a third or fourth song worth an occasional spin. Other than that, I find them surprisingly terrible.

  4. Mr. Moderator

    By they way, does anyone know what this “documentary of the Wembley Arena show” is that’s mentioned on the YouTube site for this clip? “Mind” is one of my favorite Talking Heads songs, but this is not my ideal presentation of it. Interesting, though, as was usually the case with whatever style they presented their material.

  5. sammymaudlin

    Really? I thought they were “power pop” geniuses? They were on our Breakfast With The Beatles on Sunday and I caught one song that I really liked. Our host was going on about how their 4th album is a stone-cold power pop classic.

    Our host though is some dude from Dramarama (Chris Carter)so you gotta take it with a grain. That and when people call in he thinks it clever to call them “Beatle _____.” “Thanks for calling Beatle Tom.” Oooof.

    The song I liked was “Play On” which Chris thought sounded like what The Beatles might have if they had stayed together until ’74. The guy’s vocals are so intentionally Lennon that I’m pretty sure that was what they were going for but I liked it.

  6. Funny how Dramarama pops up here…were they ever popular anywhere else except Southern California (I know they were originally from NJ). I think we even played a show with them once or twice out there. AND because I’d forgotten about them and looked them up on Wikipedia, I was thinking they fit right in here on the ‘ol Rock Town Hall beacuse of this paragraph:

    A number of prominent musicians has joined the band for studio sessions on specific tracks over the years, perhaps most notably pianist Benmont Tench of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers and guitarist Mick Taylor, late of the Rolling Stones, on Vinyl. Legendary British session pianist Nicky Hopkins can be heard on the album Hi-Fi Sci-Fi. In addition, fellow power pop artist Dwight Twilley lent vocals to several songs on Hi-Fi Sci-Fi, on which The New York Dolls’ Sylvain Sylvain also made a vocal appearance.

    It really is a small world out there…

  7. saturnismine


    the songs that work (“Go all the Way”, “I wanna be with You”, and the oft overlooked “Let’s Pretend”) really REALLY soar. They’re *just* lovely examples of heartfelt, real beautiful pop songs in the Beatle pop mode. Carmen sounds like a souped up McCartney.

    However, I’d go BigSteve and the mod one better (or worse?) and suggest that you go to iTunes, buy these three songs, enjoy the living fuck out of them for a two week phase every nine months or so, and leave it at that.

  8. I like the Raspberries. There are moments I can champion them as power pop great and others where I cringe. I agree you are better off with the greatest hits package. I see Dwight Twilley mentioned and strongly prefer his stuff with Phil Seymour (as well as Seymour’s solo stuff) for that “power pop” sound.

  9. Mr. Moderator

    I’m not finding quite the right analogy, Sammy, but being labeled a “‘power pop’ genius” is a bit like Ray Kroc having been labeled a “fast food visionary,” isn’t it?

    I like “Go All the Way”, “Let’s Pretend”, and “Tonight”.

    Too bad SallyC isn’t around to chime in. I think she has a better appreciation for this band than a lot of us.

  10. BigSteve

    The first two Twilley albums are pure gold, as far as I’m concerened. The Raspberries were too cheesy for me. Their music sounded like their hairdos Looked.

  11. Mr. Moderator

    Good to see our resident Look-unbiased Townsperson take down The Raspberries with a Look analogy! I knew you had it in you, BigSteve.

    Power Pop is such a weird thing: on so many levels it should be – and sometimes is – great. It’s real easy for it to suck, however. Is Power Pop rock’s equivalent of the Romantic Comedy?

  12. sammymaudlin

    Mod: If I had room I’d have a Ray Kroc shrine in my house. Though the new sirloin burgers at Jack are PHENOMENAL.

    Are you suggesting the power pop genre is not deserving of artistic kudos? Is there not GREAT power pop that is GREAT music?

    Is not some of the very music that you write and record of a power pop variety? Are you self-hatin’?

  13. Power-pop can be a vital and necessary kind of music. The problem is, it seems there is always dross to weed through. The Power-Pop Pop Pops (to borrow a Jon Wurster-ism) of the world have championed some truly dire stuff over the years. Now, over 30-plus years after its genesis, it’s been a long time since power-pop’s halcyon days, when the genre was as pure-as-can-be in its output. Also, when the last time a good, pure power-pop album came out? Kontiki by Cotton Mather, in 1997?

    Another problem with power-pop is that it’s almost always something to transcend. Albums like XTC’s Black Sea or Aimee Mann’s I’m with Stupid would be considered power-pop by a Venetian, maybe. But here on earth, I think they’re thought of albums that take the raw data of power-pop and put it to better use.

  14. Mr. Moderator

    Let’s put it this way, regarding my fast food analogy, Sammy:

    If, by the reality of one’s creative and technical limitations, the resulting music is in the Power Pop camp and it’s “good” Power Pop, more power to you. To me, the best Power Pop is a by-product of musicians falling short of being The Beatles. I hope that I and a lot of friends here, who’ve nobly fallen short of being The Beatles, have have taken to heart the sincere value in these efforts.

    If, by musicians’ design and/or lack of higher aspirations, the resulting music is Power Pop and nothing more, chances are it will have limited appeal to me. I know A LOT of people care what I feel about their music, so take heed! The Raspberries seemed to have quickly abandoned efforts at being GREAT and quickly followed a formula for what would be known as Power Pop. Granted, there’s probably some mind-blowing effort on the fourth Raspberries album that I’ve never heard, but from what I have heard, I hear nothing but boiled down, Big Note Guitar versions of Paul McCartney’s best ideas from Rubber Soul, the great “You Won’t See Me”, in particular.

    The Rasberries, from the lyrics I can make out, made music from the perspective of already being Pop Stars – before they were pop stars. I find that creepy, and I believe they’re one of the first bands in rock to take this approach, which would become big in the ’70s. (OK, maybe the Teen Idols, such as Fabian, did this first.)

    Anyhow, McDonald’s had made and marketed its food as if it’s food, as if it’s food that’s essential to and representative of American values. To Kroc’s kredit, millions – no, billions – of people have bought into it. Deep down, however, it’s just a representation of food that is essential to and representative of our culture, just as the music of The Raspberries is a representation of the essence of The Beatles.

    I hope this explanation is clear, convincing, and airtight.

  15. saturnismine

    Links Linkerson, where ARE you? Petesecrutz, is that you?

  16. Mr. Moderator

    Unless he’s a complete sellout, I believe Links, who when asked recently about converting to the new format said, “Never!”

    I would have trouble believing that Petesecrutz is Links. He’s never posted a link to a Billboard article on declining CD sales, has he?

  17. It’s a shame, I think Mr. Linkerson could bring a lot to this discussion.

    But let’s carry on regardless! What do other people think about the points raised about power-pop?

  18. saturnismine

    I’ve always steered clear of the power pop discussion because I never really embraced power pop. However, I think I feel the same way about is I feel about the Raspberries. There are some truly gorgeous moments, some songs with some real juice. But life can’t be all adrenaline and sugar rushes without wearing me out. I need power pop in small doses, or else I start to tire of the whole thing….somehow, it doesn’t sustain itself for me. It’s like pop song concentrate. A little goes a long way.

  19. sammymaudlin

    Hmmm. Don’t be comin’ at me like I’m some sorta Raspberries fanatic. I’m just pokin’ the bush here. I’ve never gone all the way with The Raspberries. I’m still in the batter’s box

    I hear ya about power pop being filled with Beatle wannabes but isn’t every genre jam packed with lousy shit, sub-Beatles or otherwise? Sure it is.

    I definitely don’t consider XTC or Aimee Mann as Power Pop. But how are you defining it here? I don’t define it in terms of The Beatles. I consider Buzzcocks, Undertones, Fountains of Wayne, Cheap Trick… power pop bands and although any half literate rock band owns some iota to The Beatles, I don’t think of these bands in Beatle terms.

    So yeah, you’re airtight…hot air that is.

  20. mockcarr

    Fritz has killed this anology before regarding rock nutrition. In all likelihood those hamburgers are no worse for you than the ones on your grill which are full of leftover charred insect parts. I think most people would be proud not to know who Eric Carmen is, and if they do happen to know the name, most of the recognition would be for All By Myself, which is right where he should be.

    But I’m even worse than that, since as faras I can tell, I think I like fake Power Pop. I more than these “real” examples. Is it like eating Burger King or White Castle?

    I like Cotton Mather a lot, but I think they’re too weird to be power pop. If we allow them, can we count the Future Clouds and Radar album by the same songwriter from last year? That’s a good one.

    Do the Hives count?

  21. mockcarr

    Went too fast with the send comment button as usual. My apple loogies.

  22. We interrupt this thread to bring you this bulletin. Set your VCRs and TiVos on stun – Late Friday night on TCM:

    2:30 AM The Kids Are Alright (1979)
    Documentary footage traces The Who’s rise to rock stardom. Cast: Roger
    Daltrey, John Entwhistle, Keith Moon. Dir: Jeff Stein. BW-109 mins,
    TV-MA, Letterbox Format

    4:15 AM The Last Waltz (1978)
    Legendary back-up group The Band teams with rock greats for a farewell
    concert. Cast: Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson, Joni Mitchell. Dir: Martin
    Scorsese. C-117 mins, TV-MA, Letterbox Format

    Over and out…back to your regularly scheduled thread.

  23. mockcarr

    Sammy, speaking as an artist, let me just say that as much as I can… appreciate the talent, and the effort, and professionalism of what those Raspberry kids tried to do with that crazy moptop-fresh outova electric socket thing, it’s a FAD. Go all the way – where? Hey, Eric baby, NO-body wants to be with you, take a shower or something.

    Sincerely, Bobby Bittman

  24. BigSteve

    But I like music that’s full of leftover charred insect parts.

  25. I am not Links Linkerson nor his evil doppleganger.

    I almost brought up the “look” of The Raspberries as a turn off factor and that scratch and sniff 8-Track they issued.

    As for power pop, looking at my record collection, I apparently like it a lot but couldn’t sustain myself on a diet of it. A lot of the stuff I dig. I think I’ll go listen to 20/20 records now.

  26. There are many many albums I love that would be considered Power Pop but as a genre unto itself, power pop is LOSER ROCK to me.

    Case in point is the audities list (except for the Great 48’s posts which are always worth reading)Talk about pince-nezzing

  27. Is the case maybe that power-pop is not a kind of music that is done well easily, at least for more than a handful of songs? And really, is that such a bad thing?

  28. alexmagic

    I like power pop in the right doses, but depending on whether some of the bands mentioned above actually qualify as “power pop” or not, I may like it more or less than I thought I did.

    I have an untested theory with absolutely nothing to back it up yet, but I suspect that part of why it’s not healthy to live on a diet of power pop alone is the vocals. By and large, the singers for these kinds of bands only have one style in their bag, and there’s either not enough punch or too much polish to that style for the long haul. I kinda think this is the thing that’s kept me distanced from acts I‘ve always expected/hoped to enjoy more, like Matthew Sweet.

  29. I’ve long thought – and it’s the reason I like Mr. Mod’s Kroc analogy – that power pop appears to be a genre where it is very easy to have good songs but extremely difficult to have great ones. I’m a real sucker for a great power pop song and consequently have bought many power pop albums on spec as it were only to find a CD full of good tunes with nothing that stands out. And more and more, I just don’t care about good albums, especially good power pop albums. I have a thousand great CDs in my collection; I don’t have time to listen to good ones.

    I think power pop is more susceptible to this because it’s easy enough to follow the instruction manual and put the parts together – a little Beatles here, some harmonies there, some 12 string guitar, etc. – and too often what I end up hearing is simply that, a collecting of parts, and once I’ve finished playing “name the parts / spot the influence” there’s nothing left of interest.

  30. hrrundivbakshi

    First, Oats: What do the good people of Venice have to do with power pop?

    Second, world: observe one of the all-time Great power-pop songs:

    What is it about power-pop and bad hair?

    By the way, Mod, we need a separate thread on these guys. I have *such* mixed feelings about them.


  31. mockcarr

    Some of it is a matter of getting there too late for the party. What you’ve heard is going to infect what you play. All these years after the influential bands’ heyday, powery pop songs are no longer really part of that genre if they go out of it’s bounds, and naturally it will begin to sound boring unless you become facile or add other things you like that are not of that structure. It is something you can get beyond. Some songs seem to favor that interpretation and messing with it would detract from the enjoyment. I like entire Green Day albums despite the fact that they never change the drum sound or the snotty vocal delivery. That’s just how they sound and it’s no use getting upset about it if on balance I can like the actual songs. I’m a sucker for a lot of the trappings of the faux-Beatlrey production template like Rickenbackers, melodic bass, and compression, but I’m not going get upset if a synth or drum machine shows up in a song or two. I get Alexmagic’s point about that one-trick tendency of the vocals – I wonder if it’s a matter of getting vocals to sound like more ringing guitars. I guess as a beer drinker I don’t mind hearing whine.

  32. In answer to Charlie’s question, I’d call the Hives an interesting new mix of punk and power pop tendencies. The band seems to expand the definition of power pop without breaking it. I mean, saying this might require us to take up the issue of the power pop elements in The Buzzcocks and The Undertones.

  33. general slocum

    Re: Linkerson. Not that he isn’t a guy to find a moral stand in a bowl of noodles, but is there some distinction in common parlance between a news group and a blog? Did I miss some opportunity for righteous indignation somewhere? Any illumination out there? I will say I find it entertaining that one could draw a line between different aspects of, say internet use. I myself am baffled, for example, by “myspace” culture. Though I don’t not have a my space page so as to remain on the right side of some divide.

    “You know, I was ok with dial-up, but then everyone got all cable and hi speed…! I think the world has really lost something there. ‘Where’s the rush, people?’ Slow down and appreciate the time-is-passing icon.”

  34. Mr. Moderator


    I have been known to take pointless stands in my lifetime, but I cannot fathom why Links refuses to come up from the basement. Too bad.

  35. sammymaudlin

    Seriously though, the Jack-in-the-Box sirloin burgers are awesome.

  36. i like the Jazzberries

  37. BigSteve

    Hvb, I don’t think Walking in Your Sleep is power pop. What I Like About You is power pop. Walking in Your Sleep is sleek 80s radio pop, and a brilliant example of it.

    A non music nerd colleague at work once asked me what ‘power pop’ meant, since she had heard the term and didn’t understand. I couldn’t really come up with anything that made sense to her. Or me.

  38. hrrundivbakshi

    I was *waiting* for someone to challenge me on “Talking In Your Sleep.”

    I’m about to embark on a project to re-record this tune, in a slightly less polished fashion, and I guarantee it’ll sound as power-pop as anything Dwight Twilley, Matthew Sweet or Cherry Twister ever laid down. If you accept that premise, are you saying that “power pop” is a production excercise?

  39. Didn’t the Romantics usher in the “diminishing returns” era of power pop?

  40. I think The Romantics get a bad name (even in power pop circles)for a few reasons. The slick 80’s production is one reason and the band’s look.

    I saw The Romantics 10 years ago and live they were great (I was dragged to the show by this girl I was seeing at the time and I was surprised just how good they were) and hearing “Talking In Your Sleep” sans the video imagery and production…it is a damn good blast of power pop. I look forward to hearing your re-recorded version.

  41. BigSteve

    To answer hvb’s question, yes I think power pop is more a matter of production and arrangement than songwriting. I’m sure you could record Walking in Your Sleep and make it sound power pop, but you could do that with virtually any song.

  42. hrrundivbakshi

    I disagree, BigSteve. One, I disagree that you could take any song and make it power pop without allowing disfiguring alterations to the arrangement/structure. Try it with, oh, off the top of my head, “Ventilator Blues,” or “Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing,” or “Ace Of Spades.” Two, my intention is simply to strip away the synth/gated drum sheen you hear in the Romantics version, maybe add a ballsy guitar or two. That’s it!

  43. Ugh. I HATE “Talking In Your Sleep”. ChickenFrank and I did open for them around this period – ’83 or ’84

    I’m a big fan of their first album though. I love the Rickenbacker sound they get especially on “Till I See You Again”

  44. BigSteve

    Andyr, did you and Chickenfrank also have extremely big hair in the early 80s? The pics of the Romantics from that era are like hairpsray ads. The matching red leather suits were cooler (except maybe onstage where they were presumably very sweaty).

  45. Well, I had more hair but deiniftely not Big Hair. I don’t think ChickenFrank has a scanner but he does have some pix from that show.

  46. I have an untested theory with absolutely nothing to back it up yet, but I suspect that part of why it’s not healthy to live on a diet of power pop alone is the vocals. By and large, the singers for these kinds of bands only have one style in their bag, and there’s either not enough punch or too much polish to that style for the long haul.

    I lay full blame for this on two people, Eric Carmen and Chris Bell. Because of them, generations of singers have assumed “power pop” = “singing like your nuts haven’t dropped yet.” Many potentially Great power pop songs have been ruined by a singer straining at the very top of his range.

  47. hrrundivbakshi

    Hey, just wanted RTH and the rest of the known universe to know that Townsman Saturnismine and his Photon Band put on a mighty fine show last night. Battling various virii, borrowed gear and the usual DeeCee audience issues, the band nevertheless rocked with authority. Really, I was pleased to have gone, and would recommend The Photon Band to anybody seeking out well-written and entertainingly performed live music. Bravo!


  48. hrrundivbakshi


    Sorry to geek out on you like this, but Robert Downey Jr., blowing sh*t up, flying with jets in your goddamn feet, and Black Sabbath — IN ONE MOVIE — is just too cool not to mention.


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