Heralded by many as the banner carriers of power pop for the 21st
century, few bands have displayed such a mastery of pop songcraft on a
debut release. Though not horribly adventurous with their sound, the
unabashed reliance on sophisticated harmonic vocal arrangements, fuzzed
out guitars, and occasional brass sections was seen as near revelatory
in some critical circles. No doubt, the sweeping Big Star-inspired
melodic progressions of tracks like "Shine" and "To See and Be Seen"
more than deserved the accolades that The Subversive Sounds of Love
garnered. When upping the tempo and volume on tracks like the galloping
"Paid in Kind" or the punchy "Vertigogo," Frisbie
can sound downright anthemic, though the more California-styled rock of
"Disaster" probably fits their sound just as well. Still, it's hard to
say that you ever get a real sense of the group dynamic that's at work
in the process. And while that process delivers on an undeniably
cohesive pop product, the personalities involved are never totally
evident. An exception to this, the album closes with the theatrical
whimsy of piano and banjo in "The Shuffle," proving the band can put a
more pronounced face on their sound. Although artists like this emerge
on a semi-frequent basis, and usually don't amount to very much in the
long term, Frisbie gives hope to the power pop true believers.
Haven't heard this Power Pop guys in a long time. Today i listened to the whole album once again and thought it could be a good idea to post it here.
Hope you have fun
This two-fer compiles the only two albums by Michigan's Terry Knight & the Pack; its self-titled 1966 debut and 1967's Reflections.
Rock & roll collector's and Michigan rock aficionados have given
these albums semi-legendary status simply because the lineup included
the roots of Grand Funk Railroad -- Knight was the band's manager and producer until 1972, and both guitarist Mark Farner and drummer Don Brewer
came from its ranks. These two recordings were originally issued on the
Lucky Eleven imprint and were distributed by Cameo/Parkway who had
scored a number one hit with "96 Tears" by ? and the Mysterians, another Michigan act.
gift wasn't so much as a singer, but as a songwriter capable of aping
the hitmakers of the day, and he knew how to arrange. This is born out
on the first album's covers of Sonny Bono's "Where Do You Go," "You're a Better Man Than I" (a hit for the Yardbirds), and a particularly strange reading of the Rolling Stones' "Lady Jane." The single from the album was a reading of the Leiber & Stoller nugget "I (Who Have Nothing)." Knight's own tunes include the fuzz guitar-drenched album-opener "Numbers" was reminiscent of the Seeds, while "What's on Your Mind" walked a line between Georgie Fame and the Zombies. The band's second album, Reflections, opens with the whitest cover of Joe Tex's "One Monkey (Don't Stop No Show)" ever. It also includes a direct steal of Donovan's songwriting style and vocal phrasing, in Knight's "Dirty Lady," and Bob Dylan's
early electric sound on "Dimestore Debutante."
There are some real
rockers here, too, in "Love, Love, Love, Love, Love," that's reminiscent
of the Standells, the soul-inflected-cum-Association-influenced "This Train," and a unique garage psych cover of the Stones'
"(I Can't No) Satisfaction." This may not be Michigan Rock at its
finest, but it is an integral part of its history.(allmusic.com)
Two albums on one disc. If you don't know Knight, you will know for shure Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand funk fame. Grand Funk was never my thing but this here is of my taste.
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Them were a formidable, popular group in their own right before singer Van Morrison
went on to even greater fame. This Belfast five only produced two LPs
and a potful of 7" singles during its ascendance in the molten heat of
the British Invasion. But they did manage two Top 40 hits in America in
1965 (the enduring number 24 "Here Comes the Night," later covered
glam-style by David Bowie on Pin Ups,
and number 33 "Mystic Eyes") and two Top Ten hits that same year in
their native Britain ("Here Comes the Night" and a cover of Joe Williams'
"Baby Please Don't Go"). And is there a single bar band in America that
doesn't play "Gloria," shouting "G-L-O-R-I-A" just like the 19-year-old
Moreover, the group's West Coast U.S. tour of arenas like the
Fillmore in the spring of 1966 had the Ulster youths commanding bills
that included such admiring support groups as the Doors, Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band, the Grass Roots, and the Association. At one of them, Frank Zappa even joined them on-stage. Clearly, Them's tough, heavily American blues captivated, a direct result of the vicious voice of Morrison.
It was even more a weapon on this tougher-sounding material than it's
been since he became a solo star. Although the band chose songs to cover
by John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed (twice), T-Bone Walker, Ray Charles, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, and Fats Domino, as seen here (as well as others by Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, and Bobby Troup), the real precedent for the white-hot, gnashing growl in Morrison's teenage voice was Howlin' Wolf. Here's a red-throated snarl not even other great '60s English white soul singers -- such as the Small Faces' Steve Marriott or the singer for the Action -- could match, one even more unsettling than the Animals' Eric Burdon.
Talk about making the hairs on your neck stand up! It's actually a pity, then, that Them
relied so heavily on others' material (as did everyone else circa
1964), for the two dozen originals stand up well. In addition to
was well on the road to his later genius when he penned "Could You,
Would You" and "Hey Girl." True, his material could stand to rock &
roll more, just as the Yardbirds
held fast to Chicago blues but made their beat stomp. But still he
comes on like some swamp-dwelling, moonshine-drinking, big man on the
were raw and ready, and digitally brought back kicking and screaming
from the original analogue master tapes, they are an eerie thing of
In this nearly 50 tracks of this anthology you feel the pure energy of this band and the singer Van Morrison who put it with his vocal performance two levels higher than a lot of other bands of the genre back then. I saw him just for once in '83 and that was around 18, 19 years later than the stuff from this anthology, and he kicked ass the whole arena with his vocals. Great man!
Hope you like it
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Jamie Hoover and company are back doing what they do best. One of the
finest power pop bands of Beatlesque heritage, The Spongetones have
influenced a whole new generation of musicians from James Deem, The
Saving Graces, Frank Royster, Cool King Chris, Crisis, Analog Daze, The
Dukes of Stratford, Carl Rosen, Lindy Dobbins, The Sammies, and The
Everyday Things. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. After we
establish the triumphant Rickenbacker jangle of “Invisible Girl” it sets
the tone here and then we get to the first great Spongetones classic in
“I’d Love You” with it’s “Got To You Into My Life” guitar coda after
the chorus. Hoover still has a McCartney-like sense of melody with the
easy flowing “Man With No Skin.” And the band has evolved their Fab
sound, not unlike the way XTC had done during it’s “Oranges and Lemons”
era – the toe tapping “One More Day” is a great example of this. A huge
amount of tracks here, eighteen – and it’s almost overwhelming. On the
other hand, with a large majority of the music great, you can excuse a
bit of indulgence here and there. Sometimes, the earnest romantic vibe
strays into maudlin territory, with “Three Kisses For You” sounding like
a Frodo Baggins-inspired love ballad.
But even among the really good
tracks here, you get a true monster hit like “When it’s you” with an
amazing hook that never lets go, and includes vocal harmonic gymnastics
that would shame Lindsey Buckingham and chord changes guaranteed to give
you goosebumps. This is why others bow to the genius of Mr. Hoover.
Then again, Hoover tests the limits of the band, and it’s ability to
make quirky pop a la Moe Berg or Andy Partridge. It does work well on
“She’s Happenin'” and less so on “Easy with You.” Other worthy classics
are comments on this crazy music business, “King Ampersand” and “Your
Entourage” are wonderful songs that reflect the musicians’ life. Simple
pleasures are found in the bossa nova-styled “Stalemates” and the matter
of fact lyrics in “Must Be Lust.” You almost want the band to cut loose
even more on “Elvis Doctor” with it’s Hound-Dog beat and guitar swing.
Needless to say, this is super-recommended to everyone who loves great
One of the great bands who nothing left of her strenghts of writing and arranging wonderful power pop tunes.
THE STEMS epitomized 80’s indie rock, giving it a wider currency.
They are one of only a handful of bands (among them the Hoodoo Gurus and
The Sunnyboys) that cracked the mainstream charts with an indie
approach in the 80s.
Making their debut in March 1984 playing alongside The Triffids and
The Saints, THE STEMS released a series of independent records on
Sydney’s Citadel Records. Each release made it to number one on the
Australian alternative charts. But it was their 1987 debut album, “AT
FIRST SIGHT VIOLETS ARE BLUE” that received national and international
acclaim. It became one of the best-selling Australian albums of that
year despite an almost total lack of commercial airplay in the corporate
FM dominated 80’s. Rolling Stone named “AT FIRST SIGHT VIOLETS ARE
BLUE” one of the top 100 releases of all time. It eventually went Gold
and still continues to sell strongly today. Appearances on Countdown, magazine
covers, sold out shows – the world seemed at THE STEMS’ feet. However
due to the pressures of non-stop touring and the usual “personality
differences” THE STEMS mysteriously imploded on the eve of a massive
European tour in late 1987, sealing the legend for all time.
Rising from the ashes of their 1980’s breakup, THE STEMS reformed in
1997 to perform a reunion show in their beloved hometown of Perth to an
enthusiastic response. It is fair to say they were all surprised – even
amazed - how popular they still were. They toured Australia, Europe and
the USA including an incredible one-off show at the invitation of Bruce
Springsteen’s guitarist (and Sopranos, Lillehammer TV star) Little
Steven, who lists himself as one of THE STEMS’ biggest fans. At this
show they shared the stage with The Stooges, Bo Diddley, Big Star, Nancy
Sinatra..., and 60’s underground bands The Chocolate Watchband, The
Pretty Things, Creation and the Electric Prunes who were an influence on
their sound in their early days. Things seemed to gain momentum. At
the urging of Little Steven and a host of others the band made plans to
record an album of new material ultimately titled “HEADS UP” – released
on Shock Records in late 2007. Recorded in Perth on all analogue
equipment and mixed in Cincinnati by producer John Curley (White
Stripes, Afghan Wigs, Greenhornes and Ronnie Spector) the album was
released to rave reviews and sold solidly around the world.
On the release of “HEADS UP” in late 2007, THE STEMS were invited on
the “CLASH OF THE TITANS” tour with Radio Birdman and the Hoodoo Gurus.
Successful tours of Australia, Europe, Japan and Austin Texas’s SOUTH
BY SOUTH WEST Festival soon followed to much acclaim. The band went off
the road again in 2009 before reforming with a new line-up in 2013.
To me Dom (Dominic) Mariani is a living legend into the history of power pop. All the projects he have organized or where he was a member. But i let speak his biography here:
Born and raised in Fremantle, singer/songwriter Dom Mariani formed THE STEMS
in the summer of 1983. The band debuted alongside the Triffids and the
Saints in 1984 with a sound that fused underground 60’s garage rock with
post-punk, R&B and classic pop. A succession of independent records
all made number one on the Australian alternative charts and along with
the Hoodoo Gurus and the Sunnyboys, THE STEMS were one of only a handful of bands that cracked the mainstream charts.Their 1987 debut album, “At First Sight Violets Are Blue” became
one of the best-selling Australian albums of that year despite
receiving virtually no commercial airplay in the corporate FM-dominated
80s. Rolling Stone named “At First Sight Violets Are Blue” one of the top 100 releases of all time. It eventually went Gold and still continues to sell strongly today.
After the demise of THE STEMS in 1987,Dom returned in 1990 with THE SOMELOVES. The band’s first and only LP of guitar-driven pop, “Something or Other”, won seven 1990 Western Australian Music (WAMI) Awards. Dom also collected the award for most outstanding songwriter that year.
The promise of THE SOMELOVES was short-lived and
contractual problems would not see a new release from Dom for another
three years. He returned to live gigging with a new outfit, DM3, which became one of Australia’s greatest exponents of what was dubbed ‘power pop’. DM3’s debut single, the Mariani-penned “Foolish”, was released in April ’93 and took out the most outstanding single at the WAMIs.
DM3’s first LP “One Time Two Times Three Red Light” (1993), mixed by legendary American producer Mitch Easter (REM,
PAVEMENT, SON VOLT, LETS ACTIVE, VELVET CRUSH), received widespread
critical acclaim for its melodic pop hooks, cool vocals and high energy
rock’n’roll guitar. It sold well in Australia, Europe and the US, and
two Europeans tours followed.
Album number two, “Road To Rome”, was also mixed by Mitch Easter and lauded internationally as one of the best albums for ’96 of its genre. “Rippled Soul”, DM3’s third album, was more diversely structured and well received at home and overseas.DM3eventually split at the end of ’99.
Fast forward to 2011 and a once-again reunited and reinvigorated DM3 performed at South by South West in Austin, Texas and toured Europe and the east coast. DM3’s best-of record “One Time, Two Times, Three Times More” and a live set “Live at Roskilde” have seen DM3 return to the live scene in 2014. Dom released his first solo album “Homespun Blues and Greens”
in 2004. He continues to tour Europe where he is a popular drawcard,
touring with the Stems in 2003 and as a solo artist on the release of
his anthology “Popsided Guitar” in 2005.( Taken from the Dom Mariani Homepage)
Further projects are The Majestic Kelp ( Instrumental soundtracks that combine a love of surf guitar sounds, western themes, blues, exotica, and psychedelic fuzztones) and now he's working with Datura4, a psychedelic R'n'R band.
You will enjoy The Stems...and play it loud :-)
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