This is another record that has been hanging around for about twenty-five years and I think I haven't listened to it in about that time. I recall thinking it was good enough to keep but then subsequently it had a fall from grace and went into my record purgatory section.
Way back then I knew very little about this band and in those pre-internet days I could find out very little, Now, however, some detail has been revealed – see who said the internet was just shopping and porn?
Wikipedia's entry on the band says: "The Cretones were a United States, Los Angeles-based new wave rock and power pop group in the early 1980s. Led by singer/guitarist and former Eddie Boy Band member Mark Goldenberg (who also wrote the bulk of The Cretones' material), the group had a strong sense of melody and a lyrical wit that placed them a cut above most of their new wave peers. Other members were Peter Bernstein (bass, vocals), Steve Beers (percussion) and Steve Leonard (keyboards, vocals).
Both their albums were released on Richard Perry's Planet Records label. They had one single that charted on the Billboard Magazine Hot 100: Real Love, in the spring of 1980, which was from their first album, Thin Red Line. The song Empty Heart, from their second album Snap Snap, was their only other song to receive significant airplay on album rock stations, but it did not chart as a single".
The Cretones were part of the onslaught of new wave and power pop (who were identified with the new wave) bands that emerged in the late 1970s and 1980s. The power pop scene had been small but resilient throughout the 70s. It faced commercial apathy as soft rock, country rock, glam rock, prog rock, disco and singer songwriter ruled the airwaves.
With the chart breakthroughs of The Romantics, The Knack, Shoes, Cheap Trick and Tommy Tutone in the US the market for power pop became viable. Along with any number rock bands who had been plying their power pop trade came a wave of 20 or 30-somethings who got hair cuts, shaved off their beards, put on some colourful clothing and learnt to write two minute power pop rock songs.
Check out my other power pop comments for more detail on the genre.
Power Pop was largely the "older" young mans version of punk …it's not really punk with one foot in the 60s and early 70s rock n roll but it has enough disdain for the commercial mainstream of the late 70s and early 80s that it could ride on the coat tails of the new wave and be badged accordingly.
I know there are exceptions to the rule but the more power pop I listen to the more that this seems to be the pattern.
Is there anything wrong with that?
No. But, whilst their music is stylistically similar to that of their younger brothers it doesn't have the same urgency or immediacy.
They don't sound as "new".
And by "new" I don't mean something that is unheard of but I do mean something unexpected and, possibly , out of step with the times, something uncommercial as new sounds always are when they start out.
What these bands do have is playing ability and some broad sounds that encompass more influences from the past.
The Cretones seem to it into this category of a new wave-ish power pop band made up of musicians who have been around the block a couple of times. Writer-singer Mark dates back to the early 70s (he was singer and guitarist in Chicago's "Eddie Boy Band" in the mid 70s … "The Eddie Boy Band" were mainstream, with 'soulful' vocals, funk-lite rhythm guitar and a smidgin of boogie rock).
A lot of these bands – especially those from the West Coast tend to be overproduced, more than a little slick and quite soft at heart. It's as if the labels were hedging their bets and making the sound palatable to those who were into the ever popular soft rock. .
The Cretones fit this though they are a little under-produced.
The songs should have a little more punch.
Mind you they were on Richard Perry's "Planet" records – hardly the forefront of new wave.
But, underneath it all are some undeniably good tunes and a sound that transports you back to, well 1981.
This is their second album and I haven't heard their first which is generally considered to be superior. Three songs of that album were covered by Linda Ronstadt on her platinum-selling 1980 album, "Mad Love" on which Goldenberg also played. Err, so much for new wave.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Empty Heart – a big rocker
- Hanging On To No One – power pop without the punch and some Fischer Price keyboards. It's a pity the song is quite catchy.
- Swinging Divorcee – pumping piano that are actually keyboards. Against this is a bit of a dull beat song with sax and guitar solos thrown in.
- Lonely Street – a early late 50s, early 60s styled beat song
- I Can't Get Over You – a mid tempo power pop song
- One Kiss – so so
- Love is Turning – pleasant but not distinctive
- Girls! Girls! Girls! – the tinkly Casio keyboards work here. Very catchy, though I prefer the Elvis song of the same name.
- Snap! Snap! – an instrumental. Ha, I like that the title track is an instrumental.
- Mood Vertigo – a mish mash of a power pop song with a appealing jittery performance.
Patchy …. I may tape a couple of songs and flog it off. Well at least, either way, it will get out of purgatory.
Nothing no where
Girls! Girls! Girls!
- Goldenberg went on to solo work and to perform (and or record with as a session musician) with Jackson Browne, Peter Frampton, Chris Isaak, Ringo Starr, Roy Orbison, Lyle Lovett, Elton John, Glenn Frey, Feargal Sharkey, Travis Tritt, Randy Newman, Neil Diamond, Jesse Colin Young, Brian Wilson, Randy Newman, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings.
- He also went on to write songs for other artists. Among the hits he wrote or co-wrote are "Automatic" by the Pointer Sisters, "Along Comes a Woman" by Chicago, "Soul Kiss" by Olivia Newton-John, "Novocaine For the Soul" by Eels as well as songs for Karla Bonoff, Cher, Judy Collins, Jane Wiedlin, Kim Carnes and others. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/mark-goldenberg-mn0000827477/credits
- He is currently in Hugh Lauries touring band.
- Cretones members Steve Beers and Peter Bernstein went into film and TV scores, together an individually including "21 Jump Street".