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"Let's Bubblegum The Punk​!​" Volume 1

by V. A. North America Underground Powerpop Combos

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Well, to tell you the truth, apart from the circle of a few insiders, I'm not sure you can guess what's behind the title “Let's Bubblegum The Punk!” It’s about exploring that informal and confidential neo-pop trend, now called “power pop”, which emerged in North America during the `70s, by trying to go back to the time where Top 40 radio was ruled by pop singles. Started in the decade’s early years, a resistance movement then referred to as the “mod-pop revival” —we’d call it now “proto-power pop”— was regularly relayed by the US fanzines of the time, such as of BOMP!, CREEM, and TROUSER PRESS, among others. The bands doing this music who had LP releases on record labels with a certain visibility, included RASPBERRIES (Cleveland, OH) on Capitol, BIG STAR (Memphis, TN) on Ardent, BLUE ASH (Youngstown, OH) on Mercury and to a lesser extent, Todd RUNDGREN (Philadelphia, PA) and the most English of American popsters, SPARKS (originally from Los Angeles, CA), both on Bearsville. A little aside for different reasons, were the “one-man Beatles” Emitt RHODES (Los Angeles, CA) and the post-“Teenage Head” era FLAMIN’ GROOVIES (San Francisco, CA). Power pop was somewhat of an American response —even anachronistic up to a point— to the first British Invasion, made by Anglophiles too young to be a piece of the action in the mid-`60s. It wasn’t mere nostalgia though, and even if it contained built-in self-obsolescence, it was like an invitation to take a few steps backwards in order to choose the right new direction again.

Eventually the genre became labeled; Greg SHAW was the first, in November `77, to mention “power pop”, in his BOMP! Magazine, a term he’d chosen “to indicate what will be the logical extension (...) of the punk trend”. So, in the following issue, in March `78, SHAW put forward the idea that the contemporary side of this pop revival could be the future of pop music by playing the same role that pub rock had played in the blossoming of punk in England. A whole burgeoning scene of US bands was finally going to reach an identity, which had been terribly lacking until then. The power pop label was then applied to the Dwight TWILLEY Band (Tulsa, OK), The NERVES (San Francisco, CA), Paul COLLINS’ BEAT (San Francisco, CA), The PLIMSOULS (Los Angeles, CA), Chris STAMEY & The dB’s (New York, NY), The RUBINOOS (Berkeley, CA), SHOES (Zion, IL) and The SCRUFFS (Memphis, TN) to cite a few.

We’re not going to keep the reader in suspense for too long: power pop suffered a premature death. Indeed, nothing happened that was expected or hoped for; the record industry soon turned it into something insipid, playing (at best) the nostalgia card with a return of Merseybeat and (at worst) associating it with all the new-wave bands, recognizable by the “sound of cash drawers” that their songs irremediably evoked. It was like throwing pearls to the swines and the expected explosion turned into an implosion. By the `80s, the term power pop was then considered as the kiss of death, and the story ended.

Those in the know all say much the same thing, that vintage North-American power pop is still one of the best-kept secrets on this side of the Atlantic. We add “Volume 1” to the title of this album because we hope that it inaugurates a series of compilations, which is, above all, a posthumous attempt to give all these bands, active between 1975 and 1985, some a posteriori exposure to the general public (hey, it's a figure of speech, right?) and maybe even a small place in the rock & roll pantheon. Our rallying call “Let's Bubblegum The Punk” must evoke that generation of musicians who tried to inject into punk-rock the eternal ingredients of rock’n’roll basics with equal doses of optimism, fun, romanticism, innocence, and, above all, hooks and melody. So, let us take this opportunity to introduce to you some other, in some cases lesser known, bands of the family: The HEATERS/HEATS (Seattle, WA), The JACKS (Tulsa, OK), The LAUGHING DOGS (New York, NY), Glenn MILLER & The IMPOSSIBLES (New York, NY), The QUICK (Los Angeles, CA), The ROCKIN’ BRICKS (New Brunswick, NJ), The SINGLES (San Jose, CA) and The TREND (Columbia, MO). These bands encountered varying degrees of fortune, particularly in their home cities.
For a moment, to those who loved that power pop sound, these bands seemed to be the best in the world. Even if it's not true, it's this illusion that inspired this first volume: the illusion that everything was still possible, the dream of eternal youth revisited by exuberant American teenagers and would-be teenagers, who had languished in the shadows for many decades.

Pierre @ Pop Supérette -- “With A Little Help From My Friend” David Bash.


released April 26, 2021


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Pop Supérette Toulouse, France

JOKARI est le projet solo de chansons de Marion Josserand (Boost 3000, OE, Terrain vague).
JOKARI is the solo song project of Marion Josserand (Boost 3000, OE, Terrain vague).

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