Saturday, February 3, 2024

VA - ACE Power Pop Collection [2019-2023] (4 x CDs)


VA - ACE Power Pop Collection [2019-2023] (4 x CDs)

VA - Come On, Let's Go! Power Pop Gems from the 70s & 80s [2019]     Nothing shakes some action like a snappy guitar-based pop song delivered with a powerful beat, boundless energy and joyous enthusiasm.

“Power pop is what we play,” declared Pete Townshend in a 1967 interview to promote the Who’s ‘Pictures Of Lily’. Although the term power pop did not gain much traction at the time, it re-emerged at the beginning of the 70s after the Beatles had dissolved and music began to fracture into various camps.

In the USA, bands that remained true to the Beatles tradition began to be referred to as power pop. The Raspberries set the ball rolling in 1972, and young bands began to spring up who really only wanted to sing about girls and having a good time on Saturday night. As the 70s wore on, the new wave had an ever-growing influence on the movement, and even the Ramones donned skinny ties long enough to back up harmony pop masters the Paley Brothers on a thrilling update of Ritchie Valens’ ‘Come On Let’s Go’.

The power pop movement never really caught on in the UK, principally because the highly influential mainstream music press were first centred on progressive rock, and then completely consumed by the arrival of punk. Even the mighty Raspberries failed to crack the UK Top 50, while Cheap Trick scored one lowly entry and only the Knack managed to hit the Top 10. US fans were fortunate in having publications such as Creem, Trouser Press and Who Put The Bomp staffed by maverick writers with diverse voices. Greg and Suzy Shaw were especially supportive of groups such as the Flamin’ Groovies, Rubinoos and Dwight Twilley Band, not only with their magazine but, once their Bomp! record label was formed, by putting out singles by the Romantics, Shoes, 20/20, Gary Charlson and others.

Pure pop bliss is provided by the Toms on their richly melodic ‘Better Than Anyone Else’, while the Dwight Twilley Band go ‘Looking For The Magic’ with breathless energy and insistent determination. The Romantics kick up a storm on ‘What I Like About You’ – its hectic rhythm guitar, squealing harmonica, and raw Beatles-like vitality making it an absolute killer. Staten Island’s Dirty Looks deliver their paean to rock’n’roll, ‘Let Go’, with the same energy and drive that any punk band would have been proud to muster, while the Tweeds nail our musical addiction in one with ‘I Need That Record’. Also included is the Flamin’ Groovies’ original US version of ‘Shake Some Action’, which Cyril Jordan claims is their best ever recording and we are not arguing. 

“Come On Let’s Go!” presents us with a smorgasbord of power pop classics, obscurities and left-field gems - collective proof that nothing shakes some action like a snappy guitar-based pop song delivered with a powerful beat, boundless energy and joyous enthusiasm. (Ace)

VA - Girls Go Power Pop! [2020]     "Come On Let’s Go!", our survey of power pop gems from the 70s and 80s, was one of Ace’s best sellers of 2019, with critics lavishing four- and five-star reviews upon the compilation. However, we grew to rue the lack of the female voice on the CD, with the Shivvers being the sole representative. With that in mind, we now unveil “Girls Go Power Pop!”, an entire collection of feminine decks from the 80s and 90s, all delivered with the kind of sassy pizazz you would expect from acts such as the Go-Go’s and the Bangles.

From those giants of the genre we have the #2 smash ‘We Got The Beat’ and, by contrast, the Bangles’ second 45 from 1983, ‘The Real World’, when the band were just starting out and yet to be noticed. The Runaways were certainly noticed, but their marvellous ‘Cherry Bomb’ failed to detonate and never was the smash hit it should have been. A different fate awaited Chrissie Hynde’s Pretenders, who enjoyed a long run of international hits, one of their best being the oft-overlooked ‘Night In My Veins’, on which we are delighted to shine a light. We also have the Textones, who have the distinction of cutting the original recording of ‘Vacation’, which the Go-Go’s would later take to the Top 10.

For those who like to discover more obscure names, there are little-known delights from the “B” Girls, Little Girls, MnMs, Fuzzy and Universal Honey, which all bristle with invention and quirky pop appeal. Influences come from far and wide, often harking back to earlier times. Mick Jones of the Clash produced the “B” Girls’ ‘Boys Are Drinking’, but “We were lumped in with punk, but we were pop” band member Cynthia Ross declared – indeed, their main influences were the Ronettes and the Shangri-Las. Similarly, Nikki & the Corvettes “wanted to be the Ramones meets the Shangri-Las”. The Pandoras and the Muffs represent the garage-band end of the equation, although they inject the essential quality of pop melody into ‘That’s Your Way Out’ and ‘Everywhere I Go’. On the other side of the coin, pure pop confection is brought to us by the Rebel Pebbles’ enchanting ‘Dream Lover’, Josie Cotton’s beguiling revival of the Looking Glass’ 70s hit ‘Jimmy Loves Maryann’, and Scandal’s ultra-catchy ‘Goodbye To You’, which clings like sugar to a jam donut.

We predict that “Girls Go Power Pop!” is destined to be loved by fans of power pop and cherished by aficionados of girl-pop. Anyone with an ear for a good tune and a taste for snappy, guitar-based pop should grab this real fast. Girls rule, OK! (Ace)

VA - Rockets of Love! Power Pop Gems from the 70s, 80s & 90s [2021]     Another collection of top-notch songs delivered with all the jangling guitars, catchy hooks, banging beats and snappy tunes that make power pop such a blast. Making pronouncements about power pop is a risky business, as disputes abound on websites dedicated to the form, not only about what is and isn’t power pop but about when it began and ended. One site insists that posts should relate only to recordings made between 1976 and 1981, while the belief in most others is that power pop started in the late 60s with Beatles-influenced bands such as Badfinger and continues to flourish right up to this day. We lean more to the latter view.

On this follow-up to our “Come On Let’s Go! Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s” compilation, we have extended the timeframe to cover the 90s and even include one outlier from the 2000s. There was just too much great power pop being made beyond the 70s and 80s for us to ignore. Another change to this volume is that we look beyond American shores and include selections from the UK and Australia. As before, we take a broad view of power pop and you will find elements of punk, new wave, garage and various other sub-genres within. However, we can guarantee that all our selections are top-notch songs delivered with all the jangling guitars, catchy hooks, banging beats and snappy tunes that make power pop such a blast.

Among the many highlights are ‘Had To Make You Mine’ by Cheap Trick and ‘Better Things’ by the Kinks. An oft-overlooked gem from their “Busted” album, ‘Had To Make You Mine’ screams “the Beatles!” and shows Cheap Trick revisiting their 60s roots. ‘Better Things’ returned the Kinks to the UK singles charts in 1981 after a nine-year absence. Its uplifting message should have made it a trans-Atlantic #1 with Dave Davies’ clever guitar lines and brother Ray’s inspired lyric combining to create a feeling of rejuvenated optimism as they look forward to overcoming old difficulties with a fresh new start – the perfect antidote for recent times (Ace)

VA - She's Got the Power! Female Power Pop, Punk & Garage [2023]     SHE’S GOT THE POWER! is the follow-up to our “Girls Go Power Pop!” collection of female-fronted bands from the 80s and 90s, and the sisterly companion to “Come On Let’s Go!” and “Rockets Of Love!”, our two volumes of male Power Pop.

The term Power Pop was coined by Pete Townshend in 1967 to highlight the difference between the Who and competitors such as Herman’s Hermits. These days, the definition of the term has become more wide-ranging. Blondie’s ‘Hanging On The Telephone’, for instance, was regarded as new wave or punk in 1978, but with the benefit of hindsight it’s more Power Pop than anything else. This new compilation includes many more examples of the blurring of lines: the Dollyrots’ pop-punk mash-up of the Crystals and the Ramones is a rush of adrenalin and sweetness, the Donnas instil enough pop into metal to lighten its heaviness, Bad Moves add pop to indie, Lydia Loveless somehow squeezes pop into cow-punk, the Launderettes pour greasy honey over garage-rock, and the Courettes add a dash of Spectoresque candy over their tough retro-rock – but the point is that it’s all pop with power.

Power Pop has maintained a strong underground presence from the 70s up to the present day, having survived by blending with similar styles, and is now enthusiastically supported by die-hard fans around the world. Accordingly, we have widened the time-frame here to cover from 1978 right up to 2018 and have broadened our terms of reference to better reflect the way the genre has grown and developed. One thing stays the same though: we have retained the emphasis on high quality upbeat songs with catchy tunes that stick in your head and memorable hooks that deliver sugar straight to the veins. We have scoured the world to find the most exciting tracks with contributions from not only the USA and the UK but also Spain, Sweden, Japan, Norway, Brazil and Denmark.

This is a celebration of the females who continue to explore the joyful possibilities pop has to offer. And, frankly, they do it best. Perhaps it’s the enduring influence of 60s girl groups which remains a subtle undercurrent on much of the music within – it’s new and old, a hybrid that’s bright and sassy, raunchy and gritty, fun-filled and flame-fueled. But whatever you want to call it, there’s one thing for sure: SHE’S GOT THE POWER! (Ace)






Track lists

VA - Come On, Let's Go! Power Pop Gems from the 70s & 80s [2019]

01 Paley Brothers & Ramones - Come On Let's Go 2:12

02 Raspberries - I Wanna Be With You 3:06

03 Romantics - What I Like About You 2:57

04 Dirty Looks - Let Go 3:13

05 Dwight Twilley Band - Looking For The Magic 3:15

06 Tweeds - I Need That Record 3:21

07 Flamin' Groovies - Shake Some Action 3:36

08 Spongetones - (My Girl) Mary Anne 2:43

09 Secrets - Radio Heart 3:03

10 Robert Johnson - Kerri 2:51

11 Nashville Ramblers - The Trains 3:07

12 20 - Nuclear Boy 3:23

13 Toms - Better Than Anyone Else 3:03

14 Bill Lloyd - Nothing Comes Close 2:36

15 Boys - (Baby) It's You 2:53

16 Wire Train - It's Only Dark 3:26

17 Van Duren & Jody Stephens - Andy, Please 2:37

18 Rooks - Glitter Best 4:22

19 Shivvers - Teen Line 3:42

20 Big Star - September Gurls 2:56

21 Gary Charlson - Not The Way It Seems 2:37

22 Shoes - Tomorrow Night 3:03

23 Rubinoos - Rock And Roll Is Dead 2:53

24 Utopia - One World 3:23

VA - Girls Go Power Pop! [2020]

01 Runaways - Cherry Bomb 2:19

02 Go-Go's - We Got The Beat 2:31

03 Nikki & The Corvettes - He's A Mover 2:16

04 Darling Buds - Hit The Ground 2:21

05 Scandal - Goodbye To You 3:45

06 Rebel Pebbles - Dream Lover 3:55

07 Universal Honey - Just Before Mary Goes 3:54

08 Josie Cotton - Jimmy Loves Maryann 3:30

09 Primitives - Way Behind Me 3:08

10 Juliana Hatfield - Everybody Loves Me But You 3:36

11 Mnms - Knock Knock Knock 1:24

12 Muffs - Everywhere I Go 3:24

13 Pretenders - Night In My Veins 3:16

14 Little Girls - Earthquake Song 2:37

15 Bangles - The Real World 2:35

16 "B" Girls - Boys Are Drinking 3:05

17 Fuzzy - Glad Again 2:41

18 Tuesdays - Too Late To Be Good 3:38

19 Julianna Raye - Peach Window 2:13

20 Photos - Do You Have Fun 3:22

21 Letters To Cleo - Cruel To Be Kind 3:02

22 Textones - Vacation 1:48

23 Pandoras - That's Your Way Out 2:48

24 Eve's Plum - Lipstuck 2:51

25 Holly & The Italians - I Wanna Go Home 3:56

VA - Rockets of Love! Power Pop Gems from the 70s, 80s & 90s [2021]

01 Knack - Rocket Of Love 3:11

02 Flashcubes - It's You Tonight 3:42

03 Candy - Whatever Happened To Fun 3:38

04 Fire Town - I Could Be The One 3:50

05 Wonders - I Need You (That Thing You Do) 2:52

06 Martin Newell - The Popular Girl 3:02

07 Richard X. Heyman - Vacation 1:54

08 Blow Pops - Storybook 4:12

09 Toms - (I Wanna Be A) Teen Again 4:02

10 Innocents - Sooner Or Later 3:47

11 Josh Rouse - Winter In The Hamptons 3:10

12 Cheap Trick - Had To Make You Mine 3:15

13 Vandalias - Sky High 3:20

14 Disguise - Hey Baby 2:47

15 Tommy Tutone - 867-5309 (Jenny) 3:45

16 Records - Hearts In Her Eyes 3:21

17 4 Out Of 5 Doctors - Modern Man 3:38

18 Marshall Crenshaw - Mary Anne 2:57

19 Searchers - Another Night 3:04

20 Greenberry Woods - That's What She Said 2:42

21 Producers - What's He Got 3:07

22 Dm3 - Foolish 3:25

23 Brad Jones - Never To Come Again 3:32

24 Kinks - Better Things 3:00

VA - She's Got the Power! Female Power Pop, Punk & Garage [2023]

01 Blondie - Hanging On The Telephone 2:19

02 Dollyrots - Da Doo Ron Ron/I Wanna Be Sedated 2:57

03 Bad Moves - Spirit Fm 2:21

04 Vibeke Saugestad - Out Of Time 2:54

05 Baby Shakes - I'll Be Alright 2:29

06 Launderettes - Juvenile Thrills 2:43

07 Amy Rigby - Dancing With Joey Ramone 2:49

08 Suzy & Los Quattro - Rock Boys 3:53

09 Ivy - Get Enough 2:42

10 Donnas - Take It Off 2:39

11 Cocktail Slippers - In The City 3:02

12 Shomen Knife - Explosion! 4:09

13 Dawn Chorus & The Bluetits - Teenage Kicks 2:33

14 Dahlmanns - Bright City Lights 3:29

15 Courettes - The Teens Are Square 1:55

16 Puffy Amiyumi - Love So Pure 3:57

17 Lydia Loveless - Boy Crazy 4:22

18 Sun Go - Cmon + Kiss Me 3:16

19 Delmonas - Peter Gunn Locomotion 2:39

20 Palmyra Delran - You're My Brian Jones 2:41

21 Sugar Stems - We Only Come Out At Night 3:49

22 Girlschool - Take It All Away 3:12

23 Sahara Hotnights - Alright Alright (Here's My Fist Where's The Fight?) 2:08

24 Go-Go's - Unforgiven 3:22




  1. Thanks so much, Butterboy. Power pop is catnip to me, and this is a great looking set of discs.

    1. Then you will like what's next, rrrkitchen.
      Com back in 10min.

  2. These sets are awesome! Thanks BB for putting them all in one place!