While he’s hardly a household name this side of the Atlantic, veteran singer/ songwriter PAUL COLLINS is more than worthy of our respect.
His CV has some very impressive entries. For starters he occupied the drum stool in the legendary Nerves, the band whose ‘Hanging on The Telephone’ was later immortalised by Blondie. The Nerves also featured Peter Case who continues to sustain cult acclaim to this day, while Collins would later do a Dave Grohl, making an easy transition to front of stage with The Beat – often referred to as The Paul Collins Beat in Europe to avoid confusion with UK Ska legends The Beat.
The latest in a long line of quality releases, the self-explanatory ‘King of Power Pop’ finds Collins temporarily re-locating to Detroit rock city and hooking up with Jim Diamond at the Michigan capital’s renowned Ghetto Recorders. It’s a location which exudes lasting Rock’n’Roll cool, so it’s no great surprise to find Collins and co have used it to knock up a cracking Power Pop album full of songs so catchy and durable you immediately feel you’ve been living with them for a thousand years.
If you’re still reading, then you’ll have realised that this album won’t re-shape the Rock wheel or puts its’ back into shoving the sonic envelope into boundaries unknown. However, it does its’ tough’n’tuneful thing beautifully and if cool, brevity-first Power Pop, chugging guitars and infectious choruses are still your bag (they’re certainly mine) then you’ll be happy to invest 31 minutes of your time in these 13 finely-appointed songs.
The classic, Ramones-kissed bubblegum of opener ‘C’mon Let’s Go’ immediately sets the tone, while the hook-stuffed likes of ‘Doin’ It For The Ladies’ and ‘Off The Hook’ and the skinny tie Noo Wave antics of ‘Losing Your Cool’ show that Collins’ melodic instincts remain as sharp as ever. Elsewhere, slow-burning tunes like the Peter Case co-write ‘Many Roads to Follow’ and the chiming ‘The Hurting’s On My Side’ represent the melancholic downside of the romantic coin, while the glorious ache of the closing ‘You Tore Me Down’ dreams on and on.
It’s not quite all girls, girls, girls, however. The effervescent ‘This is America’ is an edgy, sarcastic glimpse of the modern day American dream (“live life in a dream/ we’ll have everything...and don’t forget the Burger King”), while the autobiographical title track puts The Nerves legend into rather brutal perspective courtesy of lines like “we couldn’t tune our guitars/ nobody said we’d get very far.”
I’ve little doubt that Paul Collins has chosen the title ‘The King of Power Pop’ with his tongue very firmly inserted in his cheek. However, his enviable way with timeless tunes ensures this benign monarch will always have his staunch followers. I’m proud to count myself among them.
Paul Collins online
Alive! Naturalsound Records online