My All-Time Top 25 Power Pop Albums


Feb 4 2008, 17:07

Here is my Top 25 List of All-Time Favorite Power Pop Albums. I worked on this list for submittal to a poll on the (soon to be defunct) Audities mailing list, a poll which was inspired by the newish book by John Borack "Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Power Pop Guide".
It changed quite a bit from my first draft, from basically a list of my current faves, to a list more far-reaching in scope, as seen from the view of my many years as a power pop fan. This shift has homogenized the list quite a bit, to mostly feature mostly the well-known power pop Gods.
Despite my previous point, there are no Beatles albums to be found on the list, simply because I consider them bigger than power pop.
Three more albums that I loved, The Orgone Box' self titled debut, The Grip Weeds "House of Vibes" and Chris Bell's "I Am the Cosmos", didn't make the cut with me (though they made Borack's list) because I personally don't consider them power pop. Also, I loved The Posies and The Hummingbirds in their heyday, but always felt like neither recorded "that classic album (The Hummingbirds' album had the tunes, but was marred by poor production)".

1.The Someloves-Something Or Other (This is the holy grail for me. I should list the "Don't Talk About Us..." reissue instead, since it includes many bonus tracks, but this is the one that I've listened to while staring at the cd cover for hours on end.)

2.Any Trouble-Where Are All the Nice Girls? (If a Martian visited Earth and wanted to hear an example of prototypical power pop, this is the cd I would play for him.)

3.Sam Phillips-The Indescribable Wow (This one is aided greatly by a timeless T-Bone Burnett production job. I'd love to find out how they got the perfect chiming guitar sound in the intro to "I Don't Know How To Say Goodbye To You".)

4.Big Star-Radio City (Though this album is over 30 years old, it is more musically sophisticated most power pop albums recorded today.)

5.The Three O'Clock-16 Tambourines (This one was dropped down a few notches because I don't consider it true power pop. But I love this album so much, I had to include it.)

6.Dancing Hoods-12 Jealous Roses (I'm so glad that John Borack included this lp in his book. I consider the Eric Williams tracks on this album among the finest ever pop songs. I wish he kept recording music after he left this group.)

7.Marshall Crenshaw-Field Day (This is the album where Marshall lost most of his commercial and critical momentum. Ironically it is also his best collection of songs.)

8.Tommy Keene-The Real Underground (A compilation, yes, but since it isn't a Best of..., I felt okay with listing it. Those first 2 eps are still my favorites from Tommy's remarkably consistent body of work.)

9.Marshall Crenshaw-Marshall Crenshaw (This was the first power pop album I bought. You never forget your first!)

10.The Windbreakers-Disciples of Agriculture (I chose this over other Windbreakers comps because of the track "Rerun". The Windbreakers were definitely underrated, even in power pop circles. 2 great songwriters are always better than one!)

11.The Cavedogs-Joyrides For Shut-Ins (This is the band omitted from "Shake Some Action" that had me shaking my head. Despite their short run, The Cavedogs were the best pure power pop band of the 90's.)

12.The dB’s-Like This (Many would choose their first album above this, and I was a big fan before I purchased "Like This", but this is the one I sang along to while driving-that clinches it for me.)

13.The Smithereens-Especially For You (I can't believe I never listen to this one anymore. This is a classic, great melodies and diverse arrangements.)

14.The Plimsouls-Everywhere At Once (I consider this more a true rock record than power pop, so it dropped down a bit. Peter Case is my all time favorite rock singer.)

15.The dB’s-Stands For Decibels (This is The dB's classic first album. They, as with Big Star, were leagues ahead of even today's bands in terms of experimentation of arrangements while remaining a tight ensemble.)

16.Jellyfish-Bellybutton (What could've been. If only they allowed Jason Falkner to contribute his songs-maybe they wouldn't have flamed out so quickly.)

17.Big Star-#1 Record (This is their only album with Chris Bell, a hero of mine. A brilliant interpretation of British Invasion music by these Southern ringers.)

18.Sloan-Between The Bridges (This band doubles my 2 songwriters are better than one theory by having 4 talented musical voices.)

19.Myracle Brah-Life On Planet Eartsnop (From the first chords of "Whisper Softly", you know this will be a classic. Derivative, but thrillingly so.)

20.Matthew Sweet-Girlfriend (Matthew Sweet's magnum opus. He has released many top notch albums since, but has not surpassed this gem.)

21.Marshall Crenshaw-Downtown (Marshall's classic power pop re-imagined with a more diverse musical scope.)

22.Sloan-Navy Blues (Power pop with an emphasis on power. I know of no other band who can so easily take an influence and turn it into something completely their own.)

23.Game Theory-The Big Shot Chronicles (This I consider more a psych pop record, but I have to include Scott Miller in any best of list I write. In years to come, Scott Miller will be revered as a genius songwriter.)

24.The Wind-Wind-Jammer: Where`s It At With The Wind Plus ("Where It's At..." was a fantastic album, but it included enough filler that I probably wouldn't list it if the "Guest of the Staphs ep" wasn't added. I love that ep and played it to death.)

25a.The Bangles-The Bangles EP (I wish somebody would reissue their earliest recordings. I like "All Over the Place", but love the more retro vibe of this ep.)

25b.Marshall Crenshaw-The 9 Volt Years (I have to include this compilation with classic Crenshaw early tracks "(You're My) Favorite Waste of Time" and "Something's Gonna Happen".)

25c. Sloan-One Chord To Another-Had to tack this one on.

I am sure I missed something, but gotta cut it off somewhere.


  • larrybob

    I heart power pop too... some other suggestions of favorites are The Records (check out the glimmering Starry Eyes) and of course The Raspberries.

    Feb 4 2008, 21:57
  • cruz992

    Definitely love Starry Eyes... Funnily enough, I've never given The Raspberries a fair shot beyond I Wanna Be With You and Go All The Way. I have their 2 volume best of...will revisit it for sure!

    Feb 5 2008, 16:57
  • nooshie

    I've bookmarked this journal entry, and plan on using it as a personal to-do list. There goes all my spare time and money!

    Feb 17 2008, 5:20
  • cruz992

    Thanks...I really wanted to put another Sloan album on there (One Chord To Another) those guys, as do you...

    Feb 17 2008, 5:46
  • bunnielebowski

    lots of bands for me to check out and lots of bands that I love. you should check out The Silver Seas (formerly The Bees u.s.), great power pop album they put out last year called High Society.

    Mar 18 2008, 18:50
  • cruz992

    Hey yeah, I love those guys! I did an earlier journal on them:

    Mar 19 2008, 12:40
  • edark86

    I only just noticed this list of yours T.J., and I have to say that it's very very solid. If anything I'm startled by how many of these I don't own, particularly Windbreakers and Dancing Hoods - these two bands seem to have been on my wants list since forever! I oughta get some Marshall Crenshaw on CD too, I've got three LP's, including the first one, which has been played endlessly, but as they're in Melbourne and I've since relocated to Perth I haven't been able to hear him in what seems like a coon's age... but anyway, it's all great -Myracle Brah (listening to Eartsnop now and whilst I love Treblemaker slightly more, this is still an incredible album), Keene, Someloves (file under 'life changing pop'!)... at least Tayter County by Cavedogs made it into the list of '100 more great pop songs' in John Borack's book, Any Trouble didn't rate a single fucking mention - total B.S. I think, as I really value that first album too. Oh well!!!

    Mar 21 2009, 13:50
  • PappaWheelie

    Very appreciated. I'm sure you'll see my charts reflect much of this that I hadn't already known.

    Giu 29 2010, 13:46
  • jessesamuel

    The book you mention isn't on Amazon. Where can I get it?

    Mar 13 2011, 0:41
  • cruz992

    It's out of print, and the company that published it went out of business recently. If it's any consolation, here's a link to a series of comp downloads based on the book/list:

    Mar 13 2011, 3:44
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