“Another potent reminder of just how unbelievably f***ing good the Beatles were, and how dumb our commercialized culture continues to be — that a song this good (another one of George’s nuggets) could still somehow be under-exposed. Not that I’m really complaining.” (Philip Random)
In which the Buzzcocks unleash a short, sharp fever of pure and beautiful pop with punk in its soul. Or is it the other way around? One thing is clear. They were one of (if not the first) bands to have it both ways, and we’ll forever love them for that. Just because you’re mad as hell doesn’t mean you can’t be pretty, too.
Trio had a big deal international pop hit in 1981 with Da Da Da, and that whole first album is good, simple (some would say simplistic, others dadaesque) fun. Ja Ja Ja was the punk number.
Catchy pop gem from the Waterboys‘ self-titled first album about a girl with a boy’s name (in fact, a tribute to Patti Smith). What’s not to like? And why again didn’t we get to hear this on commercial radio?
“But were The Cure even Goth? Or so I heard it argued back in the day. How can you be something that hasn’t even been named yet? What they were, was good, sometimes great, which is true of Caterpillar, a wigged out pop experiment if there ever was one. Nothing does what you expect it to, but it always works, keeps the foot tapping, the head nodding, the earworm slithering.” (Philip Random)
Note the question mark in the title. This is XTC telling it like it was in early 1978 – everybody confused about the new wild sound that was tumbling out of the punk eruptions and eviscerations of the previous year. But what was it? New Wave, claimed the marketing types, but that didn’t mean anything. That was just a way of selling stuff that wasn’t disco or metal or prog or just boring old rock. What it was, was pop, bullshit free, for the moment and all time.
“As I heard it put once, The Posies were the Seattle band of the early 90s that didn’t get mentioned much during all the grunge hype because they didn’t play to type, being more about big rich melodies and smart pop finesse than roaring chest rock. My friend Mike says they sound like the early 1970s Hollies taking on Led Zeppelin here. I’ll take his word for it. Epic and not unsweet.” (Philip Random)
XTC were never quite punk; they were too pop savvy for that. Though they were there from the beginning, tearing up fragile facades with the best of them. So maybe just call them a damned good band who, by 1982’s double-vinyl English Settlement, were taking off in a pile of different directions uniquely their own, with Ball and Chain reminding us that they still had the pop.
Yes, that Terry Jacks, and from the same album as that song. Because there was a time, call it 1972, when the most divisively sentimental artifact of pop poison the world knew could cohabit with an oddly heartfelt little ditty about urban alienation, the mindless paving over of paradise, the sheer sadness inherent in being alive and alone in a world that was clearly going to hell, sentimental or otherwise.