Early ’70s Power Pop

Power pop is a strange genre of music. It can’t evolve, lest it becomes a strange sub-genre like prog-rock or emo-opioid. Each new generation of power pop uses the exact same ingredients, give or take a keyboard; catchy ditties and equally catchy counter-melodies, complimented by busloads of Beatlesque harmonies. The only difference is the production values of its time. Yet the quest for the most contagious melody remains consistent, as if trying to perfect the formula.


1970: “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” by Edison Lighthouse


This was the first number one hit of the ‘70s in the UK. In America, the number one song was “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” by B.J. Thomas. There’s a reason why the vocalist of Edison Lighthouse sounds so familiar; it’s Tony Burrows. He was the lead singer for these one-hit wonders, “My Baby Loves Lovin’”, “Gimme Dat Ding”, “Beach Baby”, and “United We Stand”.

1971: “Sweet City Woman” by Stampeders


Back in the day, when 45’s were the mp3’s or video on YouTube™ of today, this buoyant number brightened my outlook like whatever today’s equivalence is to the Quaalude®. It gave me the hope of a better tomorrow, somewhere that wasn’t here. Yet, there I was, sitting in my friend’s bedroom, with a stack of singles to go through, just after rehearing “Sweet City Woman” eight more times. [FACT CHECK: I said the exact same thing for the song “Hitchin’ A Ride” by Vanity Fare.]

1972: “Baby Blue” by Badfinger


1972 was a very good year for power pop. March brought “Baby Blue”, produced by Todd Rundgren before he imposed too much Todd Rundgren on bands, where they sound like Son of Todd Rundgren. Transcendent harmonies framed by a chromatic guitar/bass run. Perhaps the best McCartney song he never wrote.

1972: “Little Willy” by Sweet


Yes. You are very funny, forgive me if I don’t laugh. That’s right, this song is about my penis. In a nutshell, released in May, inane lyrics, infectious riffs, and a key change at two minutes and thirty seconds point. The only thing that could make this song more joyous would be another key change right before the fade out.

1972: “Go All The Way” by Raspberries


In July, this song was my first encounter of the power popera. A collection of three or more melodic motifs mashed into three-minute glory, i.e. “Band On The Run” by Paul McCartney And Wings. [1973] [FACT CHECK: It is five minutes and thirteen seconds long.] This song forgives Eric Carmen’s later power sap hits, “Hungry Eyes” and “Make Me Lose Control”.

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