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Book Review: John Borack
Shake Some Action" (The Ultimate Power Pop Guide)
By Beverly Paterson, The Lance Monthly
(more articles from this author)
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Author: John Borack
Title: "Shake Some Action (The Ultimate Power Pop Guide)"
Genre: Book and CD
Publisher: Not Lame Recording Company

The term power pop first came into being when Pete Townsend coined the music of The Who as such. What an apt definition that was, considering the band's tunes were powerful and poppy. But it wasn't until the early seventies when power pop earned its stripes as a legitimate label. That's when Badfinger, Big Star and Raspberries arrived on the scene. Owing a transparent tip of the tambourine to the smashing sounds of the middle sixties, these bands boldly counteracted the five-hour boogie rock and syrupy singer-songwriter confessions of the day. Citing vintage Beatles and Kinks, along with The Searchers, The Hollies, The Byrds and of course The Who as principal inspirations, power pop bands played sharp and snappy tunes, layered with harmonies, hooks and guitars that twittered with spirit. While the music was hardly progressive, it was refreshing and revisited an age when songs were songs. You could dance to the beat and sing along with the words.

While Badfinger and Raspberries (as well as Big Star, although they failed to reap the commercial rewards as the aforementioned bands and it wasn't until many moons down the line that they turned into big stars) didn't quite alter the course of rock and roll in the same way their heroes of the previous decade did, they influenced gobs of youngsters to put together their own likeminded groups. The late seventies and early eighties witnessed a promising power pop movement with The Dwight Twilley Band, The Flamin' Groovies, Shoes, The Rubinoos, The Beat, The Knack, The Records, The Plimsouls, The Romantics, The Cars, The Jags, The Greg Kihn Band, The Spongetones, Marshall Crenshaw and Phil Seymour leading the pack.

Conceived by noted journalist and musician John Borack, "Shake Some Action," is as the sub-title announces, the ultimate power pop guide. Named after a killer diller Flamin' Groovies track, the book involves essays and list upon list of power pop records. The top two hundred power pop albums, the best power pop collections, ten classic power pop intro riffs and greatest songs by Todd Rundgren, XTC, Teenage Fan Club, Raspberries, Squeeze, The Posies and Cheap Trick. Musicians further get into the act, with Bill Lloyd, Jamie Hoover of The Spongetones, Doug Fieger from The Knack, Dom Mariani, Robbie Rist and Alan Chan and Tommy Dunbar of The Rubinoos chatting about their personal favorite power pop tunes.

Descriptions and reviews, which were authored by a plethora of different writers (including yours truly, who has been known to subsist on a steady diet of power pop for weeks on end), additionally carpet the pages of "Shake Some Action," taking in the obvious to the hopelessly obscure. Does anybody remember The Pencils, Vance of Towers, Straight Eight, The Numbers, The Donuts or The Late Show? A CD, featuring rare cuts, also accompanies the publication. And if that isn't enough to make you pop with power, "Shake Some Action" (The Ultimate Power Pop Guide) furnishes the skinny on record labels and magazines specializing in the music. Power pop may now be viewed as cultist and never really harvested the respect it so clearly deserves, but herds of bands still wear the badge proudly and interest in the music remains healthy. Have you ever tried explaining what power pop music is to someone who is totally clueless? I have, and it can be awfully frustrating. "Oh yeah, The Beatles," is their typical response. Or worse yet, "Power pop? You mean Jolt or TAB? Soda pop, right?" So the next time you encounter a power pop virgin, simply present them with a copy of "Shake Some Action" (The Ultimate Guide To Power Pop) and say no more. I guarantee their life will be forever changed, and so will yours even if you're already a devoted disciple of the music.

For more information and to contact the author, click on the author’s name at the top of the page.

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