Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Power-Pop Potluck

A tip of the cap to Manufactured Recordings. Last week, the label reissued a whole mess o' power pop that had not been in the vinyl bins for more than 30 years. Let's start with Manikins. The double long player 'From Broadway to Blazes' gathers just about everything you would ever need out of this Perth, Australia, band from 1971 to 1981. Hard and rough around the edges, their music reminds me of Eddie and the Hot Rods, Undertones, the Only Ones and a slew of other bands coming out of the UK in the late '70s. Even if you never heard Manikins before, this collection somehow manages to take you back.

Now on to more traditional power pop. Smart Remarks wore their influences on their sleeves, but what influences they were! You'll spot the sounds of Paul Collins' Beat, The Records and, especially, Dirty Looks. Remember them? How a trio from Staten Island ended up on Stiff Records must be an interesting tale, but that's a story for another day. This trio from Bordentown, New Jersey, had an all too brief recording career, just one memorable single and the five-track EP 'Seriously Speaking,' but it's all here on 'Foreign Fields: 1982-1984.' If you're scratching your head and wondering where you might have heard Smart Remarks before, perhaps you saw them open for the Replacements, Ramones, Joan Jett or Haircut 100 back in the day.

Let's stay in the Garden State for the best and probably best known of the bunch. The Modulators' 1984 album 'Tomorrow's Coming' is a must for any power-pop fan, and this reissue has a bevy of bonus tracks, including demos and the singles that preceded the LP. I'm not going to bother with influences because bands of this ilk should have been trying to emulate the sound of the Modulators, not the other way around. This is just sublime. Now for some trivia. Did you know Rob Roth, the owner of Vintage Vinyl in Fords, New Jersey, one of the best record stores in the world, was once a member of the Modulators? His label was original issuer of the early singles and this album too. It's only February, but come December I bet 'Tomorrow's Coming' will be vying for my reissue of the year.


George said...

Mannikins - very very good. I didn't think the Smart Remarks could top it, but I was wrong there. I also liked The Modulators. Three good tracks here Brian, thanks.

Brian said...

No argument there, George. Before this week, I only knew the Modulators. All three of these will be in the collection very soon.