Power Pop

Power Pop is an interesting category of Rock & Roll. The difference between it and Punk and New Wave can be difficult to distinguish. It differed from punk rock in that it tended to be naive and emotionally open compared to punks cynicism and corrosive negativity. Still a band like Ireland's UnderTone's could fit in either or both categories. It also holds a lot in common with New Wave although New Wave's tendency toward combining mid-period Beatles (Paperback Writer, Rain) and Kinks (A well Respected Man, Waterloo Sunset) with art rock influences (Bowie,Peter Gabriel, early Pink Floyd) makes New Wave far more ambitious in both music and lyrics.

That explains what Power Pop isn't but doesn't describe much about what Power Pop is. What Power Pop is then is a group of musicians and Bands obsessed with the energy, sounds and lyrical simplicity (lyrics almost always deal with girls or cars) of the early 60's Beatles, Beach Boys and The Byrds  while frequently striving to attain the greater melodic complexity of those same bands mid-60's output.

The early-70's band Big Star is one we feel we have to make a special argument for. We've included only their incredible, Byrds like classic "September Gurls" in this list even though many consider them the ultimate power pop band. Luther's Music's opinion though is that a number of factors lift them out of power pop and possibly into a category of their own and that's that both the music and lyrics are both not only ambitious enough but also SUCCESSFUL enough to put them on the same level as their influences. They also across their entire catalogue of songs have a deep and hauntingly pervasive feeling of melancholy and romantic gloom that separates them from the generally cheerful power pop. We've also included the song "I am the cosmos" from Big Star's tragically doomed co-founder Chris Bell's solo album.

But hey, enough of our yackin', here's the playlist! 

Published on by Chuck O'Rourke.