Monday, January 14, 2013

#625: 15 Great Overlooked "Pop" Albums

You know what I mean by "Pop," right? I mean a collection of 10 or a dozen or 14 songs with some great tunes you'll still B humming a week later -- & with few obvious pretentions toward Art. Just good, solid entertainment, in other words.
If you've been reading here 4 very long, the titles below will probly come as no suprise. + this time I'm adding a list of summa my fave NON-overlooked pop albums, some obvious stuff I'm just a sucker 4. So you get 2 posts 4 the price of 1. Onward....

* Go-Go's: TALK SHOW (1984) -- Driving & gutsy, with unforgettable songs & an in-your-face production from Martin Rushent. Better & more dramatic than BEAUTY AND THE BEAT, & WAY more consistent than the disappointing VACATION. Best: "You Thought," "Capture the Light," "Forget That Day," "Head Over Heels," "I'm With You," "I'm the Only One." Peaked around #11 nationally....
* Shoes: PRESENT TENSE (1980) -- Gorgeous, breathy, guitar-heavy lovesongs, with tunes that'll bounce you around the room. Great group vocals. Best: "In My Arms Again," "Too Late," "Every Girl," "Now and Then," "Tomorrow Night," "I Don't Wanna Hear It," "Listen."
* Stories: ABOUT US (1973) -- It's programmed sideways & there's a lotta filler, but the best stuff is really superb British pop-rock. Great keybs from Michael Brown, great vocals by Ian Lloyd, & they team up 2 write some unforgettable songs: "Please Please," "Love is in Motion," "Words," "What Comes After," "Circles," "Darling," "Changes Have Begun," "Believe Me," "Top of the City," "Hey France."
* Bangles: ALL OVER THE PLACE (1984) -- 1st side's mostly got the breathy, dreamy, wistful stuff; 2nd side's all Attitude -- & it's almost perfect, Xcept 4 a revolting string-powered piece of fluff at the end. Best: "Dover Beach," "Going Down to Liverpool," "Hero Takes a Fall," "All About You," "Restless," "Silent Treatment."
* Split Enz: WAIATA (1981) -- Lotsa fun, from the driving side-openers 2 the moody instrumentals. The 2nd side is a moody sleeper, but it'll still getcha. "Hard Act to Follow," "History Never Repeats," "Wail," "Clumsy," "Iris," "Albert of India," mosta the rest.
* Hollies: ROMANY (1972) -- OK, a little arty, but great songs, marvelous atmospheric production (Alan Parsons was in the house), & the VOCALS! Only a coupla weak or stupid trax. "Magic Woman Touch," "Won't it be Good?," "Slow Down," "Words Don't Come Easy," "Down River," "Blue in the Morning," "Romany," "Touch."
* Police: REGGATA DE BLANC (1979) -- This probly isn't technically "overlooked," but it sure sold way less than SYNCHRONICITY or GHOST IN THE MACHINE or ZENYATTA MONDATTA. Which is 2 bad, cos not only R these guys bouncy & zingy -- they're FUNNY, the Rodney Dangerfields of New Wave. "Does Everyone Stare?," "On Any Other Day," "Contact," "No Time This Time," "Walking on the Moon," ... oh, & "Message in a Bottle"....
* Nik Kershaw: HUMAN RACING (1985) -- Practically every song's a winner, from the hit "Wouldn't it be Good?" 2 the Chipmunks' cameo on the hilarious "Gone To Pieces." "Drum Talk," "Bogart," title track, & check-out Nik's Stevie Wonder impersonation on "Faces."
* Tracey Ullman: YOU BROKE MY HEART IN 17 PLACES (1983) -- She coulda hadda whole diffrent career. Great innocent pop songs, wonderful production. "Breakaway," "They Don't Know," "I'm Always Touched by Your Presence Dear," "I Close My Eyes and Count to Ten," title song.
* Dire Straits: MAKIN' MOVIES (1980) -- A little arty & cinematic, but Mark Knopfler's songs R really strong. "Expresso Love," "Tunnel of Love," "Romeo and Juliet," "Hand in Hand," "Solid Rock," "Skateaway." It ends with a sad joke.
* Charlie Dore: LISTEN! (1981) -- Excellent, smooth mainstream pop, with a backing band that's basically Toto. Charlie's vocals boost it above the average, especially on the dramatic "Don't Say No," "Wise to the Lines," "Like They Do it in America," "Sister Revenge," "I'm Over Here," "Falling," title song.
* Rollers: ELEVATOR (1979) -- The former Bay City Rollers grow up painfully, on-stage. Some filler, especially on the 2nd side, but the best stuff is charming, intense, dramatic. Shoulda sold millions. "Hello and Welcome Home," "Stoned Houses #2," "I Was Eleven," "Washington's Birthday."
* Headboys: (1ST) (1979) -- VERY twisted New Wave pop, from greats like "The Shape of Things to Come" 2 the bloodcurdling screams on "The Ripper" & the odd & naughty "Experiments." Also great: "Changing With the Times," "My Favorite DJ," "Kicking Over the Cans," & the pretty but drawn-out "Silver Lining." Produced by the same guy who did ELEVATOR, Peter Ker.
* Partridge Family: (1ST) and SOUND MAGAZINE (1970 & '72) -- You knew this was coming, didn't you? If you can fight thru the embarrassment & put these on the player, there's some great group vocals & production, & great instrumental support from The Wrecking Crew. "Singing My Song," "I'm on the Road," "Brand New Me," "Love is All That I Ever Needed," "I'm On My Way Back Home," "I Would Have Loved You Anyway," "Brown Eyes," etc.

Other Great Pop Albums I'm A Sucker 4:
Cyndi Lauper -- SHE'S SO UNUSUAL.
'Til Tuesday -- VOICES CARRY.
Beatles -- ABBEY ROAD. (Too arty?)
Fleetwood Mac -- MIRAGE.
Tears for Fears -- SONGS FROM THE BIG CHAIR (especially "The Working Hour" & "Broken").
Beach Boys -- PET SOUNDS. (Too arty?)
Boston -- (1ST) and THIRD STAGE. (DON'T LOOK BACK is a great HALF an album....)
Bare Naked Ladies -- STUNT.
Jordin Sparks -- (1ST).
Blondie -- EAT TO THE BEAT.
Cars -- (1ST) and HEARTBEAT CITY.
Pretenders -- (1ST).
Steve Winwood -- ARC OF A DIVER. (2nd side's especially cinematic....)
Dan Fogelberg -- PHOENIX. (Title song & "Along the Road.")
Queen -- A NIGHT AT THE OPERA. (Too arty?)
Elton John -- GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD. (Featuring Elton's greatest song ever, "Social Disease"!)
Supertramp -- BREAKFAST IN AMERICA. (Haven't played it much since '79, tho....)

Coming someday soon: The WORST Pop Albums Of All Time....


lex dexter said...

Thanks for reminding me to roll my new used copy of "Elevator." It's good stuff, like ELO sped up by 25% and without the potential pitfall of symphonic wrong turns.

I just printed (and will soon laminate) a version of this list. I will place it in my wallet where other people stock pictures of their kids and kin.

Clem said...

Shoes, Present Tense. You got that right TAD.

Loren Clements

TAD said...

Thanx, guys. Welcome back Lex, & I'm flattered. & welcome LC!