POWER POP 360 – the follow up to “Shake Some Action”

Posted on 20 October 2011


FLASH!!  ATTENTION Power Pop fans who actually still READ books!  (I’m joking, I’m joking!)

The follow-up to “Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Guide To Power Pop” is in the works – and YOU are going to be there along the way & help get it done!

Back in November 2007, “SSA”(as we’ll call it for short from now on – make note, please) arrived on the power pop scene.  It was a definitive, comprehensive look at pretty much being a power pop geek featuring lots of lists, short articles and a Top 200 all-time best power pop albums uber-list.

It sold briskly, wonderfully – and it was gone a year later to become a rarity.

Limited copies are available again (HERE) but its rare status will remain unchanged because those copies number a mere 225 or so.

So, that brings us to the proper follow-up of “SSA”.  John Borack and I have been talking about it, on and off, for 3 years.  We’ve had a lot of ideas splattered across phone conservations and emails and finally arrived a concept earlier in 2011.

Normally, with “Works In Progress”, I’ll throwing book ideas out to the community here and get your opinions on which ones to pursue.  With the follow up to “SSA”, though, we had already come to this vision before WIP was fleshed out.

Regardless, John and I are going to keep you informed with all the details the book blossoms and is created.  In fact, we’re going to bring you into the process quite intimately.  I’ll be recording some of calls as we work on on various details of the book and posting them here for you to….well, listen to.

Voyeuristic?  Well, only if we did not agree upon sharing it.

We’ll also be sharing rough drafts, cover art ideas(which we’ll all vote) on and solicit your ideas on many different areas along the way.

YOU – yes, you O Mighty Pop Pioneer – are going to have your virtual DNA implanted on this project.

Sooo, what is going to be ‘the angle’, the idea of this project?

Yes, it’s a bit general but it’s a first step and we want to bring you along at each forward movement and we begin today! We want to call it “Power Pop 360”.  What do you think?


Here It Is – a first salvo:

“”Power Pop 360” is an exciting and informative new book compiled and edited by longtime music journalist John M. Borack that will celebrate many of the classic songs of the much-beloved and enduring power pop genre.  With tunes chosen by Borack and entries written by a cadre of some of the finest pop journalists around,  “Power Pop 360″ will take an up close and personal look at both classics and obscurities, with fresh insights from many of the artists who created timeless slices of pop goodness.”

What are your thoughts?  Any other ideas you’d LOVE to see?  We’ll listen – but we may ignore, too.  But this is your chance to help conceive another, different project, as well.  So I want to hear your ideas below so post away.

Does this angle sound like something that would be interesting for passionate power pop fans to explore and dig deeper into – or not?

If you have something better, share it!

18 Responses to “POWER POP 360 – the follow up to “Shake Some Action””

  1. Andrew Curry says:

    I think it would be fascinating to have a section devoted to artists’ and fan’s reactions to those albums that were left off of the original list in Shake Some Action. What records were unjustly ignored? Which albums were way too high or low on the list? And would John Borack himself concede that some albums were misplaced or wrongly omitted? That would be terrific, at least as a portion of the book.

    • dudeman says:

      Excellent idea, Andrew! I’m printing it out right now….and ponder righteously. When we start work on the SSA related books, we’ll do a webinar with john and myself and we’ll discuss the points of contention and let folks vent! i have to warn you, though – john can really bite back, hard! 😀

    • Steve Newton says:

      It would be fascinating to find out if any of the artists got any kind of commercial / critical boost from inclusion in the book.

      How many of them with long since deleted back catalog have made something happen in the digital domain here in the future? How much of the impetus was due to a resurgence of interest after the book featured them?

      How do they compare releasing stuff back in the day where you had minimal exposure that reached only a few people. Compared to now where you can go global online but are basically a small noise in a big storm of crap?

    • John Borack says:

      Well, with any list there are going to be certain “Fan favorites” that are left out; that’s just the nature of the game. I honestly don’t feel I “unjustly ignored” or “wrongly omitted” any discs, but I know some folks would beg to differ.

      I will say, however, that if I were to re-do the top 200 list today, it would probably look somewhat different, with albums moving up, down or off the list entirely. But heck, I felt that way 2 days after I compiled the original list! 🙂

      • Andrew Curry says:

        Oh, of course, John. I was never suggesting that your choices were “wrong” or “unjust.” Only that there were likely fans and musicians out there who thought, “Wait…where is X album? Is Borack nuts?!” And that’s what I’d love to hear about. Good natured debate.

        Some of the power pop websites compiled a list they called “Shake Some Action Revisited” a few years back, as a direct response to your list. They didn’t adhere to a strict “one album per artist” rule, but even taking that into consideration, there was lots and lots of overlap with your original list. It was mostly a matter of positioning. That list, for example, put Get The Knack, Spilt Milk, Grand Prix, and Kontiki in the Top Ten.

        As a power pop nerd and a list nerd, the whole thing is like nectar to me. More, more, more!

  2. John Borack says:

    Nah, I’m a pussycat….

  3. Neil Sidebotham says:

    I love SSA but I would like this new book to be pure power pop (whatever that is).

    Just because I listen to power pop does not mean that I don’t listen to other music but what on earth were things like the Stylistics doing in SSA? Wasting space that belonged to a deserving power pop band? I love soul as much as the next person but SSA was about power pop.

    • dudeman says:

      Neil, you are talking to a first-class music pantheist. I own over 10,000 CDs(which is entirely embarrassing) and, trust me, they ain’t even close to being power pop. Just a few hours ago, I bought the latest issue of PROG, Classic Rock and AOR(a UK magazine dedicated to AOR) but one of core passions is Stax/Volt, early 70s funk, Philly and NYC soul from the early 70s and ’69-’78 obscure hard rock – and don’t get me going on sappy singer-writer from the 70s. Here’s a confession – I’ll loose all credibility w/ many on the first day of PGH, Neil. I own every single Christopher Cross album – talk about skeletons! ;-P ( I know, I know – it’s indefensible…)

      Anyway, let me see I get yr comment, correct – Read yr first line again, above. Is it missing a ‘not’? That first SSA was ALL about power pop only – unless I missed something and was drinking tequila in the mornings back then. Clarify a bit there, if you would…..b/c I can’t see how SSA was not pure power pop, for the life of me. Examples, please.

      Now, I’ll leak this here and see how notices – but maybe you’ll dig this news, Neil – Not Lame Media(which is my publishing company) will be releasing a book on the history of Jazz Rock. I’ll be sharing that with folks here in a few weeks w/ sneak peaks…..you into that that late 60’s/70s jazz rock thang?

      • Neil Sidebotham says:


        A random selection of some of the things in SSA that I don’t consider power pop

        Sparks Kimono My House (great but no PP)
        Psychocandy – Jesus and Mary Chain – Great but about as PP as the Velvets!
        Green River – CCR – brilliant rock/rock’n’roll/rockabilly but not PP
        “You are everything” The Stylistics
        Maggie May – Rod Stewart
        Ok Computer – Radiohead – 21st Century Prog rock
        Two out of Three Ain’t Bad – Meatloaf – pseudo Springsteenian rock for the masses- fun but not PP.

        To me these random selections while great music are arguably pop or rock but not power pop. Examples of pure power pop as benchmarks could be the Easybeats’ Aussie albums or the Who circa 1967 such as the Who Sell Out.

        More controversially I don’t consider most classic Cheap Trick to be power pop. I love early Cheap Trick but tend to think of it as light metal due to it sounding more rock than pop. Having the same producer as Aerosmith probably colours my view. On the other hand, I consider their Rockford album to be power pop.


  4. Bruce Rainwater says:

    One thing I really wish the first book had was an artist index.

  5. John Borack says:

    What the Neilster is referring to is the fact that some of the power pop artists/journalists who provided their “Top 10’s” for the SSA book often listed non-power pop songs or albums as some of their faves. (Some dude by the name of Bash listed the Stylistics, btw.)

    Me, I thought it provided a good frame of reference to see where the roots of some of these folks’ musical obsessions may have originated. No one else has ever mentioned it as an issue/problem.

    (And, by the by, I happen to love the Stylistics, too; “Stone in LOve With You” is one of the greatest songs ever.)

    • Neil Sidebotham says:

      The thing that I loved about SSA was finding out about power pop bands that I had never heard of or discovering great albums.

      Any book that extols the virtues of Big Star, the Raspberries, the Rubinoos, Dwight Twilley, Shoes, the dB’s etc is always going to be a winner with me.

      A suggestion for the next book would be to consider some more Aussie power pop bands. My all time favourite is Young Modern and their “Play Faster” album which was recently re-released with lots of bonus tracks.

  6. Bill Holmes says:

    Hope I get to (cough) wax poetic about a song or two; it was an honor to be a part of the first book.

    • dudeman says:

      Monitor and share in the discussion that will evolve here, Bill – but, yes, we’ll be reaching out for the input from enlightened, informed writers like you!

  7. hope morrison says:

    Consider publishing an e-book version – in fact, republishing Shake Some Action as an e-book would be great too. I rarely buy hard copy books anymore since I got a Kindle.

    • dudeman says:

      Hope: This could be long – advance apologies to everyone. Feel free to ignore and skip to the very end. ;-P

      E-book options will be pondered – the problem is, the books have to support various households to pay the proverbial bills.
      Here’s the rub, though: after Not Lame being felled with tens of thousands of dollars of losses(all absorbed by living, breathing people – uh, like me), and its demise only partly only because of the digital ‘free’ thang, the e-book option is a struggle to embrace inside a very, VERY small little niche like ‘power pop’.


      The reality has been for last six years or so, that when a CD came out, say for example on my old label, Not Lame – it would be up on the file-sharing sites…in a week. Maybe two. Every time. It is what it is – and has been since 2005 or so. Everyone knew that reality – and most went to some P2P source to grab the music and go. This included the thousands of CDs on the retail side of the Not Lame site for all the other indie bands and small labels, too.

      It went like this: a CD would show up as ‘new’ on NotLame.com — and then most folks simply went right to their favorite, ‘inside’ sites a few weeks or so later and knew, with high probability, that they would be there. No sale for the band, no sale for the label(or band, if self-released), no sale for the online or offline retailer. It was shared experience, though, by everyone in all aspects of the music business. CD sales are 60% less than they were were 10 years ago – and the losses for for smaller, niche retailers, physical or online – even larger(70%). (ouch!)

      So it goes in wonderful arena of ‘the free market’ and dis-rupting new technologies. Gotta love it, gotta embrace it, gotta figure out where to go next. I”m a free-market guy – so no whining from me, so you’re clear. I find it more exciting than troubling despite my own blood on the tracks. They were my choices and we all live with the choices we make, of course.

      Here’s where it bring us in context of indie power pop: in my experience(which is significant, 17 years full-time w/ power pop, 25 in the music biz), it resulted in dis-heartened, dis-interested, un-motivated bands/artists to create more because they could not pay for their investment of their efforts – or get the sense that anyone was listening or caring. This is IMPORTANT! There was no gauge for artists to get a sense that their efforts were being enjoyed.

      In the old model, you got that affirmation from….sales. In the new model? Still to be determined but the competition for everyone’s time, money and entertainment choices are exponentially higher than even 5 years ago, let alone 10 years ago. You can give the music away all day long, but how do you do you get the attention of the potential listener is the much bigger issue now.

      Many of the artists/bands went away, gave up. Many wondered ‘what was the point’. Many forged on, clinging to the old models – and becoming bitter(not good for the art). Many didn’t care and loved the chance for anyone to listen to their music, free or otherwise. They adapted and kind of gave up on making any kind of money, however slight,small or non-existent.

      Niche, indie, top-shelf power pop bands went from struggling to sell even 1,000 copies of their CDs a few years ago….to 100-200 in a few years. It was bloodletting.

      For web sites and distributors, the over-head, the infrastructure and costs associated with business operations were not covered by the decrease in sales(and digital sales did not make up the difference) – and, most importantly, there were no resources to invest into changing, evolving their businesses into something more vital, value-driven for their specialty areas.

      The lay of the land for the digi-distribution for music content providers is not yet clear in terms of value being exchanged by all participants – the ‘sellers’, the ‘buyers’, the ‘market’.

      Ooops, this is going into a lame, verbose diatribe but it was not meant to be. Ugh. It’s they type of open, frank, transparent discussion that I want WORKS IN PROGRESS projects to have, so you know. (but in a lot less words!)

      Sidebar: Interesting story connected to this(well, to me, anyway) — When I announced the end of Not Lame(my old label and online record store) back in November, 2011, I received almost a 1,000 emails – most expressing shock, disappointment, thanks, you name it. It was really cool w/ the well-wishers and olf friends getting back in touch.

      But depressing, too. Why? More than half those emails that expressed this kind of expression: ‘Bruce, what am I gonna do now without the Not Lame site!??! I’ve depended on it for all these years!’ There were so many like this from names I did not recognize that there was something going on: These names did not exist in my database – at all. More than half of the emails I received. They had never bought a single item from NL in 17 years. Not one. No bones thrown to Brucie. ;-P (it’s a dead model anyway…would not have changed the outcome…..) That’s profound when one chooses to think about it..and it does taint my bias for e-book options, to be very transparent and honest.


      Let me answer more direct now(finally, I know, I know…): With SSA or for any very small niche book, there’s not enough sales that will allow the huge amount of hours that go into a creation of a book to translate to the pricing level that is expected w/ e-books($10). Too small of a fan base.

      If the Power Pop Nation grows a bit and folks actually buy, rather than trade and download and go — then maybe it could work. With Not Lame Media(the company that publishes the books – in and out the music area), I *will be* experimenting with doing e-book only releases on a small scale – and get the feel of how they could fly. I’m open to it – but with reservation. At least, initially – I don’t see SSA being one of those because there are two families they have to support and the risks are too great and deeply personal.

      Plus, Pop Geek Heaven(which is free) will be completely supported by the sales at the PGH Store. If there’s enough selling of stuff there in the future, it will remain free, too(ie: via sales of projects such as the SSA and Power Pop Prime books and future PGH CD releases). If it doesn’t, I’ll have to pull the plug on it. But I will have realized a dream in its creation and would know I tried to create high value not only for power pop fans, but for the artists to better connect direct with the fans of the music and give them a better chance of getting the music heard. (that IS the core dream here, btw…)

      It’s a fascinating time to be alive – LOVE it. All of it. Would not trade it – but the path to revenues to make things happen, is still wrought with massive uncertainty, huge financial(and personal) risks and profoundly unproven models of profit viability.

      Hope, in the future, I will answer all blog posts from you in two paragraphs or less! ;-P

  8. Craig Mullins says:

    It might be interesting to have a power pop on the charts section that highlights power pop songs that became actual Billboard hits. That might take some research (and I’m not sure, but it also might mean licensing from Billboard which could kill the idea). For example, noting that The Eurogliders hit #65 in 1984 with “Heaven (Must Be There)” might interest fans of that Aussie power pop band. Or that Rockpile hit #51 in 1981 with “Teacher, Teacher”, their only hit billed to the band…