Paul Collins – King of Power Pop!

January 01, 1970

(Alive
Records)

 

 www.aliveenergy.com

 

Given his
impressive pedigree – a founding member, with Peter Case, of original L.A.
power pop pioneers the Nerves during the 1970s, and of the Beat (later Paul
Collins’ Beat) during the ’80s – Paul Collins has certainly earned his status
as power pop nobility. In his quest to claim the power pop crown, which has
lain dormant since the late 1980s when Nick Lowe abdicated the throne, Collins
sojourned to the holy land, the Motor City, home of the Knack, the Romantics,
and Nikki Corvette, to record in Detroit’s notorious Ghetto Recorders studio.

 

Working
with producer Jim Diamond, who has helped shape the sound of such
garage-dwelling fellow travelers as Outrageous Cherry, the New Bomb Turks, and
the White Stripes, Collins bangs-and-crashes his way through thirteen
high-octane slabs of outright power pop majesty, a baker’s dozen, if you will,
of sugar-coated sonic delights. King of
Power Pop!
kicks off the party with the declarative “C’mon Let’s
Go!,” a call-to-arms for Collins’ would-be subjects that features ecstatic
slabs of cascading Duane Eddy-styled six-string, a bouncy rhythm, and the
soothing harmonies of Ms. Corvette behind Collins’ gruff-but-lovable tenor.

 

King of Power Pop only amps up the
wattage from here… “Do You Wanna Love Me?” evokes the British invasion,
with a driving rhythm and sloppy garage-dawg harpwork courtesy of the
Romantics’ Wally Palmar. “Doin’ It For The Ladies” wears its ’60s-era
influences proudly on its sleeve, with delicious harmonies beating out a sort
of beach blanket bingo on your eardrums. The stellar opening guitar on
“Don’t Blame Your Troubles On Me,” provided by longtime Collins’ foil
Eric Blakely, does little to conceal the song’s Yardbirds-romping
stomp-and-stammer roots, while the hoarse vocals and muscular soundtrack of
“Off The Hook” only add to the song’s anguished heartache, a
necessary lyrical theme in the power pop kingdom.

 

Collins
solidifies his bona-fides with a pair of wired, inspired covers, beginning with
the Box Tops’ classic “The Letter.” Rather than attempting to mimic
Alex Chilton’s blue-eyed Memphis soul original, Collins instead strips the song
down to the essentials – emotional teardrop vocals, menacing guitar, and
crashing drumbeats. The result evokes the grandeur of the original while adding
an invaluable contemporary rock ‘n’ roll sheen to the affair. A cover of the
Flamin’ Groovies’ “You Tore Me Down” is provided a loving reading
with crooned vocals and a thick, beautiful tapestry of instrumentation. It’s
with “Kings of Power Pop,” a semi-autobiographic history, that
Collins makes his final claim to the title, with self-effacing lyrics, great
vocal harmonies, and gorgeous guitars that will spin your head in circles.

 

Leave it
to the commoners of the blogosphere to endlessly debate Paul Collins’ status in
the power pop firmament; as for this humble rockcrit, given the uniquely high
quality of tuneage on King of Power Pop!,
with nary a duff track among the thirteen, I say give him the crown. He’s
earned it with better than three decades of uncompromising loyalty to the power
pop aesthetic. Paul Collins may never become the rock star he dreamed of, but 13
albums in, he deserves our fealty, dammit! After all, as his royal highness
himself sings, “the kids just want to have fun!”

 

DOWNLOAD: Take a chance, ’cause the Rev sez “it’s
all good!” REV. KEITH A. GORDON

 

 

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