Sometimes I find it difficult to comment on power pop.
I love power pop but the genre is fairly rigid (and possibly formulaic) in structure. So, inevitably, what I love about it I have already said before.
Check out my other comments on this blog.
The high watermark for experimentation is probably Dwight Twilley, but, I suppose, any discussion on experimentation is redundant because the enjoyment of power pop is visceral and depends on beat, dance-ability and singalong-ability.
Is that a word?
You know what I mean.
Does this make it any less of a relevant music than anything else?
The visceral enjoyment of this music doesn’t date and can appeal to generations not familiar with the time and place of the band.
A lot more “thoughtful” music can’t say that.
So, onward and upward.
Payola$ are from Canada.
Hmmm, I hesitate.
Wikipedia: The Payolas (or Payola$) were part of Vancouver's new wave of bands and active in the Canadian music scene for a decade from the late 1970s, recording several albums and singles that were Canadian chart hits. They disbanded in 1988, but reformed again from 2003 to 2008, issuing a new EP in 2007…..Vocalist Hyde, a British emigrant, met guitarist Rock (originally from Winnipeg) during high school in Langford, B.C. Shortly after they joined with drummer Ian Tiles and bass player Marty Higgs to form a pop-punk band. As the band got started, Bob Rock simultaneously started his career as a recording engineer at Little Mountain Sound Studios in Vancouver, B.C., allowing the Payola$ the time to record their first single, "China Boys" (1979). This single was sold at their gigs and in local music stores…. This quintet recorded 1981's In a Place Like This (produced by Rock), which was a critical success, but a commercial flop. It included a remake of “Jukebox” — and yet another remake of “China Boys” — as well as more proletarian laments like the title track and “Whiskey Boy”.
The Payola$ brand of power pop leans to the new wave, or maybe their new wave leans to power pop?
Either way there are the punchy elements of early guitar punk in their sound, but done in a slick, rather than chaotic shambolic, way. The slickness comes from the fact, no doubt, that the band was a little “older” than their compatriots. They had even (albeit under a different name) travelled to England in 1973 to test their music on a big stage.
The music is energetic and thoughtful and there is quite a bit of politics in the music but little of it is preachy.
What the band does best is mix the English (Elvis Costello, The Yachts, The English Beat) and American (Iron City Houserockers, The Knack, The Silencers etc) musical elements – which is something Canadian bands do well.
Perhaps it’s because of their geographical position and migration patterns?
I prefer (not surprisingly, to you regular readers) the American elements. The English ska elements don’t float my boat though at least the Payola$ are thinking outside the power pop box.
Having said that, after this album, they did end up sounding a little like the Hooters. That may be a good or a bad thing depending on your taste.
There isn’t one spectacular song but there are a lot of good songs played really, really well.
Tracks (best in italics)
- In A Place Like This – This is very English circa 1980 though with meatier production. Politics mix with sharp power pop. Catchy.
- I'm Sorry – some ska, blue beat white ska creeping in… a good song but I'm sorry (sic) I’m not into the sound.
- Jukebox – another punch and catchy song
- Whiskey Boy – some reggae flavours moving in and perhaps a little Dexy's Midnight Runners
- Good Job – less power pop punch and more general thump …which you would expect from a pub band
- You Can't Walk Away – not bad, but not edgy enough.
- Too Shy To Dance – that’s more like it
- Hot Tonight – there is always one person who is "hot" at night on any given power pop album …..the heat is followed by dancing and, err, l-ov-e
- Female Hands – a ballad with some risible lyrics:
My life's no open book, in which the world can look
I keep my secrets well, some things I'll never tell
I have no wooden heart, it's just
been torn apart
My life turns upside down,
sometimes the walls come down
I keep dreaming bout, female hands
Running through my hair
I keep dreaming bout, female hands
- Comfortable – groan – more English sounds – this time Ian Dury is creeping into the sound.
- China Boys – a good finish
The Payola$ totally nail a few tracks but overall the album is patchy. The “patchy” being sounds I don’t like rather than bad songs per se. It would slip through normally but I'm being difficult at the moment…. I’m unsure as to whether to keep or not. That means I will.
Nothing, no where
In A Place Like This
- wikipedia: guitarist Robert Jens Rock, (born 19 April 1954 in Winnipeg, Manitoba), is a Canadian musician, sound engineer, and record producer best known for producing bands such as Simple Plan, Aerosmith, The Cult, Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, 311, Metallica (a lot of Metallica), Our Lady Peace, Bryan Adams, and most recently The Offspring.
- The singer, Paul Hyde, is still active in music.