Powerpop CD Review: The Records – Works In Progress
The folks at Kool Kat Musik have a habit of finding the darnedest things and then releasing them for the world to hear. Sometimes they’re live performances, occasionally rare and unreleased recordings. In the past year alone we’ve heard a live performance from powerpop legends The Plimsouls, lost recordings from midwest powerpop greats Ultimate Fakebook, and a new CDR release from one of Minneapolis’s best, Tommy Flake.
Now, thanks to Ray and the folks at Kool Kat, we get the coup de’ grace, a disc of rare pop gems from one of the genre’s greatest, The Records.
The folks at Kool Kat Musik describe the new disc, entitled Works In Progress, better than I probably can, so here’s their blurb per the Kool Kat catalog page:
“This 12-song collection of demos, rare and unreleased recordings from 1982-2012 is the perfect conduit between The Records of yesterday and tomorrow and is a must have for any fan!”
Spanning over 30 years of songwriting, this collection emphasizes what an accomplished songwriter John Wicks (The Records’ chief songwriter) is, not to mention some of his collaborators who’s work is also showcased here. “Here Stars Are My Stars”, co-written with Will Birch from the band’s heyday, is as good as almost any Records song from the Virgin Records days and “The Heroes”, which Wicks wrote with Duncan MacKay of 10CC sounds as if it might have been an arena rock classic had things turned out a little differently (The liner notes include brief anecdotes from Wicks about each track, should be wish further explanation).
That being said, it’s the outtakes from the 90’s and early 00’s that really shine. “Union Jack”, Wicks’ commentary on his motherland is as good a song as there is in the band’s extensive catalog, sounding as if it could have been written by Pete Townsend. Joel Titman’s drum work on this cut is absolutely fantastic. “She’s All I Need”, a more recent composition, is only in demo form here but the melody is irresistible and, well, it’s as catchy as any song you’ve heard in the last few years. No kidding, the song is one big hook.
Other should be classics include “Every Word We Say”, “Liverpool 6512”, and “Cry A Million Tears”. This is one of my favorite releases of the year, even if it isn’t all new material.
John Wicks, the lead singer of The Records, has also been up to some interesting side projects, most notably his songwriting and singing with Debbi Peterson, the accomplished drummer from everybody’s favorite all girl band, The Bangles. But then, that’s a story for another day.
This is a special CDR release priced to move at $12, so order it while you can. You can hear audio clips here.