Album review: VARIOUS – Girls Go Power Pop!

VARIOUS – Girls Go Power Pop!

Big Beat/Ace [Release date 28.08.20]

Ace (via their Big Beat imprint) follow 2019’s impressive “Come On Let’s Go” power pop collection with a new 25 tracker. This time, compiler Dave Burke varies the theme by focussing on female-fronted acts. As he acknowledges in his immersive liner notes, the tracks are mostly drawn from the 80s and 90s as the barriers for the female acts didn’t begin to tumble until after the arrival of The Runaways and the DIY attitude of punk rock.

It’s apt then that The Runaways kick matters off with the fiery Kim Fowley/Joan Jett co-write ‘Cherry Bomb’ – “I’m the fox you’ve been waitin’ for” indeed! Also dating from the 70s is the infectious ‘Knock Knock Knock’ by MnMs.

The CD offers a good blend of more well-known artists alongside some genuine obscurities. Falling into the former category are Go-Go’s with their peerless ‘We Got The Beat’ (in its more sparkling ‘album version’ form), Bangles with the pre-major label harmony-drenched cut ‘The Real World’ from 1983, and ‘Night In My Veins’ – a fine track from The Pretenders’ 1994 album “Last Of The Independents”.

The Brits get a look in too, with two 1980s bands usually tagged as “indie” fitting in seamlessly here; the fine harmonies of both The Darling Buds ‘Hit The Ground’ and The Primitives ‘Way Behind Me’ easily qualifying them for inclusion. Long forgotten UK group The Photos are also here with 1980’s ‘Do You Have Fun?’.

Another Go-Go’s link comes in the form of ‘Vacation’ by The Textones – the late 70s band which included Kathy Valentine and Carla Olson. Valentine would later join the Go-Go’s, who themselves would record a version of this track.

Elsewhere, there’s a faithful cover of Nick Lowe’s classic ‘Cruel To Be Kind’ by Letters To Cleo. ‘Goodbye To You’ is a catchy as hell, synth-driven track by the Patty Smyth-fronted Scandal, which dates from 1982. Jeff Lynne is also here, as producer (in his usual inimitable style, including that drum sound) on Julianna Raye’s ‘Peach Window’.

These releases usually throw up a few artists that warrant further investigation. The pick of those here are The Tuesdays, an all-female Norwegian band whose awesome Go-Go’s meets The Rembrandts tune ‘Too Late To Be Good’ is taken from their self-titled 1998 album. The brilliantly goofy Beach Boys-esque ‘Earthquake Song’ by Little Girls is another standout, while Holly & The Italians’ ‘I Wanna Go Home’ is proof that ‘Tell That Girl To Shut Up’ wasn’t their only memorable song.

With further gems from the likes of Nikki & The Corvettes, The Rebel Pebbles, Universal Honey, Josie Cotton, Juliana Hatfield, The Muffs and The Pandoras, and a fabulous 24 page booklet featuring original sleeve images, photos and extensive notes, this is a must buy for any power pop fan. ****

Review by Jim Henderson


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