Sunday, February 28, 2016


I noticed, while rereading an older post, that I would do a post and Ipod playlist for power pop or, as they were known in L.A. in the 80s, "skinny tie bands."

This is one of those "Is it a genre or not" forms of rock & roll. The term "power pop" was first coined by The Who's Pete Townsend, who used it to describe the music of The Who and Small Faces. Other bands of that era (The Monkees, The Raiders, The Searchers, The Kinks) could be considered as influences on the Power Pop sound, however the major influence on the sound and look of Power Pop was The Beatles.

Shortly after the 70s began, a group of bands began springing up that hearkened back to that British Invasion sound. One of the first was the British band Badfinger, who were on the Apple label and even recorded a song written by Paul McCartney (He produced it, as well).

Another group that set the pattern for the Power Pop bands to come was the American group The Raspberries, lead by Eric Carmen. Later on, the San Francisco based band The Flaming Groovies switched from a rockabilly sound to a Power Pop sound.

The phrase Power Pop was next used by a music critic in 1978 to categorize this growing trend. The boom years for these bands were from 1978 to around 1986. The most successful of these groups was The Knack, who were from L.A. Club owners in L.A. dubbed the Power Pop bands, with their Beatle-like suits and ties, the "Skinny Tie bands." The glam/heavy metal bands, known for their mounds of sprayed, long hair, were dubbed "Hair bands."  That is where those terms came from.

Of course, the early Power Pop bands didn't dress like The Beatles did in 1964. They looked like other bands of the early 70s. It was The Knack, who started the fashion trend to dress like The Beatles. They also took a ton of flak over it.

While the last year of this trend is 1986, the music continued to be popular at college frat parties for years to come. More recently the sound has hit the charts again by bands such as Fountains of Wayne, Semisonic and The Rembrants.

This is not a countdown. I'm not ranking these songs, it is just for your listening pleasure. It is the order they came up on my Ipod.

"My Sharona" - The Knack
"Shake Some Action" - The Flaming Groovies
"Cruel To Be Kind" - Nick Lowe
"What I Like About You" - The Romantics
"Scream" - Artful Dodger
"A Million Miles Away" - The Plimsouls
"The Hero Takes The Fall " - The Bangles
"You Don't Want Me Anymore" - Steel Breeze
"Yellow Pills" - 20/20
"Someday Someway" - Marshall Crenshaw
"Alex Chilton" - The Replacements
"This Beat Goes On / Switching to Glide" - The Kings
"I Wanna Be Wit You" - The Raspberries
"Every Word Means No" - Let's Active
"Walking On Sunshine" - Katina & the Waves
"There She Goes" - The La's
"Wake Up Boo" - The Boo Radleys
"Love Is For Lovers" - The dBs
"I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" - The Rubinoos
"Blood & Roses" - The Smithereens
"Hazy Shade of Winter" - The Bangles
"I'll Be There For You (Theme from Friends)" - The Rembrandts
"And We Danced" - The Hooters
"Superman" - R.E.M
"That Thing You Do" - The Wonders
"Girl of My Dreams" - Bram Tchaikovsky
"867-5309 / Jenny" - Tommy Tutone
"September Girls" - Big Star
"I Want You To Want Me" (live) - Cheap Trick
"Down On the Boulevard" - The Pop
"Hold On To Something" - Great Buildings
"All Come True" - World Party
"The Good Life" - Fire Town
"No Matter What" - Badfinger
"Talking In Your Sleep" - The Romantics
"Just a Smile" - Pilot
"Baby Its Cold Outside" - Pezband
"I Want To Help You Ann" - The Lyres
"Starry Eyes" - The Records
"Precious To Me" - Phil Seymour
"She Don't Know Why I'm Here" - The Last
"Lay Your Love On Me" - Racey
"Behind the Wall of Sleep" - The Smithereens
"Mary Anne" - Marshal Crenshaw
"Where Have You Been All My Life" - Fotomaker
"Tell That Girl To Shut Up" - Holly & The Italians
"Radio Free Europe" - R.E.M
"Driver's Seat" - Sniff N the Tears

"Tell It To Carrie" - The Romantics
"Magic" - Pilot
"Go All The Way" - The Raspberries
"Your Love" - The Outfield
"Stacey's Mom" - Fountains of Wayne
"Tonight" - The Raspberries
"I'm On Fire" - Dwight Twilley Band
"Ship Of Fools" - World Party
"Baby Blue" - Badfinger
"Too Late" - Shoes
"Good Girls Don't" - The Knack
"Rock & Roll Girl" - The Beat
"This Is Airebeat" - The Squares
"Day By Day" - The Hooters
"Time Won't Let Me" - The Smithereens
"In the Street" - Big Star
"Dreaming Is Easy" - Steel Breeze
"She Goes Out With Everybody" - The Spongetones
"I Will Dare" - The Replacements
"Lisa Anne" - Bill Lloyd
"Nothing From Today" - The Vipers
"Get Over You" - The Undertones
"Places That Are Gone" - Tommy Keane
"Whatever Happened To Fun" - Candy
"Chemistry" - Semisonic
"Girls" - Dwight Twilley Band
"Buried Alive" - The Lyres
"Come On, Come On" - Cheap Trick
"Fall On Me" - R.E.M
"Boy On a Roof" - The Outnumbered
"Honor Among Thieves" - Artful Dodger
"In a Different Light" - The Bangles
"L5" - Fools Face

The last one is a Springfield, MO. band, that had a statewide following in the 80s.

Friday, February 5, 2016


One of the earmarks of 70s rock was the guitar intro. Some have called it a trend, but in reality, they were perfected in the 70s. Lets face it, the first one in rock & roll was Chuck Berry's open to "Johnny B. Good," followed by Buddy Holly's noodling at the beginning of "That Will Be the Day" and we should mention Dave Appell's riff at the beginning of  John Zacherely"s"Dinner With Drac."

The 60s brought the British Invasion, garage bands and psychedelic rock, all of which paved the way for heavy metal and prog rock of the 70s. I could do a whole post on 60s guitar intros too. Everything from "Day Tripper," "Satisfaction," "You Really Got Me," "I Can See For Miles," "Eight Miles High," "Pleasant Valley Sunday," "Sunshine of Your Love," "Who's Gonna Mow Your Grass" I said enough for another post.

The 80s & 90s had some great ones too, by Guns N Roses, R.E.M, Van Halen, Loverboy, Nirvana, just to name a few. That also could be another post.

In researching this subject, I realize that not every song began with a rocking guitar intro. Some of the biggest hard rock songs of the 70s began with a slow acoustic guitar build up before the hard rocking guitars began. The obvious example is Led Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven." Also in this group would be Boston's "More Than a Feeling," Kiss's "Black Diamond," Heart's "Crazy On You" and Chilliwack's "Fly By Night."

Also some of the great guitar riffs are preceded by keyboard parts. I ruled those songs out, because I wanted to list those that kick off the song in a big way or at least start song of within a short time. 

I'm going to rank these. I usually don't do that but with this list it would be impossible not to do so. I'm sure some will want to argue, I guess I will accept it.

1.  "Layla" - Derek & the Dominoes: If I hadn't listed this as the number one guitar riff of the 70s, there would have been an outcry all over the Internet. This is one of the songs, if not the song, that set the standard for 70s guitar intros.

2.  "All Right Now" - Free: Like "Layla," it is one of the Class of 1970. This one is simple, but punches you right between the eyes.  Steve Miller wrote "Rock N Me" as a tribute to Free guitarist Paul Kossoff.

3.  "China Grove" - Doobie Brothers: This one was the guitar intro for mainstream pop-rock. This 1973 hit was the great guitar intro for AM radio. Granted, the top two were big AM radio hits too, but this one cemented the idea that a big hit needed a big guitar into, no matter what style of music you did.

4.  "Smoke On the Water" - Deep Purple: Anyone who doesn't try to play this the first time they pick up a guitar, has no business even holding a guitar. The great thing about it is that even if you are lousy and never held a guitar, people can tell that you are attempting to play this song. Like "China Grove" this was 1973.

5.  "Whole Lotta Love" - Led Zeppelin: I had to put Led Zep in the Top 5. Another one from 1970.

6.  "Life In the Fast Lane" - The Eagles: If you were cruising the main drag of your town on a Friday night, there wasn't a better song to have on the radio than this one. Hard to believe there are some people who don't like this song. In a good country, they would be executed for not liking that song.

7.  "Sweet Jane" - Lou Reed: This is an anomaly. Many people consider it one of the greatest guitar intros of the 70s, but it wasn't until the fourth version of the song that it people probably noticed it. The Velvet Underground's 1970 version actually opens with a psychedelic flourish before Lou Reed starts singing. The original version, not released until 1974 on the Live 1969 LP,  was a slow ballad, but still using that familiar riff. The version on the 1972 Live at Max's Kansas City LP actually has a longer intro with the riff. However, the version that more than likely made this one of the great 70s guitar intros was the version from the 1973 Lou Reed live LP Rock & Roll Animal. Guitarist Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner gave this a metal crunch that hits you like a sledge hammer to the head.

8.  "Iron Man" - Black Sabbath: Speaking of metal crunch that hits you like a sledge hammer to the head. Ozzy Osbourne said it best, when you hear this you actually imagine "a big metal bloke walking about." Beavis & Butthead would probably agree.

9.   "Jet Airliner" - Steve Miller Band: This is one of those that sounded better on AM radio than FM. I also think the single edit is better because it goes from the intro into the lyrics, whereas the LP cut goes into a rather redundant guitar bridge before the lyrics. Either way, it is a 70s classic.

10.  "Takin Care of Business" - Bachman-Turner Overdrive: This one builds up on a scale into a upbeat, fun,  heavy metal, boogie woogie jam.

11.  "Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress)" - The Hollies:  This one can send chills up my spine when I hear it. Not sure why. The fact that the light and innocent Hollies gave us this may have something to do with it. It's as sexy as...well, a long cool woman in a black dress.

12. "Treat Her Like a Lady" - Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose: Usually, soul & funk doesn't get mentioned in the pantheon of great guitar songs of the 70s, but they had some great guitar riffs and intros too. This is one of them. Much like "Takin Care of Business" builds up the scale into a great driving riff. It's so cool, it was used to introduce Ron Burgundy in Anchorman.

13. "Don't Fear The Reaper" - Blue Oyster Cult: Forget the cowbell, the guitar is what makes this song a classic. It is like a Byrds guitar riff on steroids. Not sure if it was on a 12 string guitar or it just sounded like one, but it certainly has a beauty to it that the others guitar intros don't.

14.  "Aqualung" - Jethro Tull: What better way to introduce a song about a homeless, drunken, pedophile with a runny nose than with a sinister guitar riff like this. One of the brilliant moves, on the part of the band, to make this guitar intro so memorable was to not just play it twice, but to isolate it with pauses between each of the two times it is played before the third time when the drums and Ian Anderson's vocal starts. They do almost the same thing at the end of the song, to further get it stuck in your head.

15. "Funk 49#" - The James Gang: The previous years "Funk 48#" was good, but "Funk 49#" was better. It has went on to become a favorite. One of Joe Walsh's early masterpiece guitar riffs.

16. "Stay With Me" - The Faces: During the early 70s, Ron Wood created some great guitar intros for The Faces, but this is the one that has stood the test of time. A bluesy riff that the kicks into high gear, then slows into a rollicking bluesy stroll. No wonder the Rolling Stones ask him to join.

17. "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" - The Rolling Stones: Speaking of the Rolling Stones, you have to include them on a list of great guitar intros, however, they didn't seem to create elaborate, signature guitar intros in the 70s. They had already set the standard in the 60s with "Satisfaction," "Jumping Jack Flash," and the "The Last Time." They gave us one of the great guitar intros of the 80s with "Start Me Up." This one is not just a great guitar intro but a great guitar finish. Keith Richards starts it off with nasty blues riff in an odd key that turns into a jam when joined by Charlie Watts drums. It ends with a psychedelic smooth jazz jam with guitarist Mick Taylor and saxophonist Bobbie Keys.

18. "Do Yo Feel Like We Do" - Peter Frampton: This intro is perfect for a song about waking up confused. It has a slow, groggy, fuzztone scale, that is then matched note for note by a electric piano. I know it is considered blasphemous to some people, but I prefer the original version from the Framptom's Camel LP to the version on Framptom Comes Alive, because the sound is crisper, it is shorter and he doesn't do that annoying talk box thing in it.

19. "Beautiful Girls" - Van Halen: Eddie Van Halen packed a wild party filled with bikini clad girls into this guitar intro.

20. "Panic In Detroit" - David Bowie: There are several of great guitar intros from Mick Ronson on David Bowie's hits. This one is not only is it underrated, but it is so tight and and so forceful, it punctuates Bowie's William Burroughs inspired, dystopian lyrics.

21. "Reelin In the Years" - Steely Dan: They were more of a keyboard band, but this guitar intro is a classic.

22. "Woodstock" - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: Stephen Stills guitar intro made this one the most successful version of this rock anthem.

23. "Do Ya" - The Move/Electric Light Orchestra: This is kind of a tie, but then again The Move morphed into ELO.

24. "Jane" - Jefferson Starship: This one was one of two great guitar intros to close out the 70s. Craig Chaquico starts off with a light, spacey sound before turning out a chainsaw like riff that builds up to a sudden stop in the middle of the song, followed by one of the great guitar solos of the 70s.

25. "Driver's Seat" - Sniff N The Tears: This is the other great guitar intro that closed out the 70s. It begins with a rather intense sounding acoustic guitar part that is then joined by a fuzz guitar riff. Together it works into a great underrated open for a British New Wave one-hit wonder.

Honorable Mentions: "20th Century Boy" -T. Rex, "Stone Cold Fever" - Humble Pie, "Thunderbuck Ram" - Mott The Hoople, "Calling Dr. Love" - Kiss, "Man on the Silver Mountain" - Rainbow, "That Smell" - Lynard Skynard, "The Seeker" - The Who, "That Lady" - The Isley Brothers and "Don't Look Back" - Boston.

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