Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I Wanna Beeeee A Teen Again...


I've received criticism for my inclusion of several power pop-records on my 2005 re-issues list, and perhaps to some extent rightfully so. I expected nothing less anyway. Power pop is a strange genre. Mostly sentimental and nostalgic (radio-days, 7" singles, that summer etc.), conservative in both style (Beach Boys-harmonies; Beatles-esque song structures) and lyrical content (girls), sometimes verging on the misogynistic, but sometimes also entirely good-hearted. My friends pretty much divide into two schools when it comes down to power pop; a few of them swallow it down, hook and all (pun intended), the others remain more skeptical, and some of this skepticism seem to me to be a reaction to the whole-hearted praise of my other friends, which is understandable. In Norway, there has for a long time been a tendency to herald the obscure and equate that with quality, note the popularity of the Nuggets-series. I by no means subscribe to that notion myself. That said, there is no rule that says obscurity in terms of recognition equals mediocricy (or worse) in quality. The means and mechanisms of distribution in popular culture is too complex to make a clear-cut distinction in that respect. So as for Yellow Pills, it is filled with mostly unknown (to me) artists, some of them bad perhaps, but I find a good few of the songs highly entertaining and likeable. Hoboken Saturday Night may be a better record (I'll admit to not having listened to it for some time), and I have no doubt that Yellow Pills will race down the list in due time as there are not enough good songs on it to retain that top position. But for now, I just plain enjoy it.

Speaking of compilations, Blue Note have released a The Very Best-series with among others Thelonious Monk, Lee Morgan, Bud Powell, and Horace Silver. Most of them have eight to ten-plus tracks. Thelonious Monk's Blue Note legacy has already been sealed through his Genius of Modern Music Vol. 1 and 2, so that is a hard act to follow. The Monk-record looks good on paper, but I miss some compositions, and duck points for only ther only being 13 tracks. Bud Powell's a bit better, the only notable exclusions being "Wail" and "Audrey". "The Scene Changes" is from the album of the same name, which is worth buying by itself. Lee Morgan and Horace Silver differ from Monk and Powell in that they mostly started recording albums, whereas Monk and Powell began in the pre-album era and started out recording "sides" (early version of what we call "singles"). Therefore, sides-compilations have a different function than albums, especially since there was a trend at Blue Note to record albums as a collective whole. That said, both Lee Morgan's "The Sidewinder" and Horace Silver's "Song for My Father" are so well known and work excellently on their own. For some strange reason Morgan's compilation omits "The Sidewinder", though.

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