Powerpop CD Review: Starry Eyed – The Records Tribute
I’ve never been much of a fan of tribute records but, when I learned that Australia’s Zero Records would be releasing a tribute to the “British Big Star”, I had to know more. And when I read the bands that would be involved in the project, well, This would be no ordinary tribute disc.
While many of these tunes are songwriting masterpieces, I can’t say the same for every performance. Yet, almost each and every one has its own unique behind the scenes story.
It was interesting to see some of the tracks participating bands choose to cover. Some were quite obscure such as “Your Own Soundtrack”, an outtake from Music on Both Sides if memory serves, covered more than ably by The Popdudes. You know the Popdudes although you may not know it (say that again?). John Borack, he of Shake Some Action – The ultimate Powerpop Guide fame, and Robbie Rist, child actor and part time member of the Brady Bunch cast, make up the key components of the band.
Eric Blakely took part in a European tour with John Wicks of the Records and Paul Collins of The Beat under the moniker “Kings of Powerpop” a few years ago and Eric and the Bottle Kids do a very credible job with Guitars in the Sky, also from Crashes. And while I can’t say that The Undecided by Default remind me of the Records, it is nonetheless great to hear someone perform If I Write Your Number In My Book, a great song Mr. Wicks and Mr. Birch penned all those years ago for Rachel Sweet.
The late, great Steven Deal performs “So Sorry”, another outtake from this same time period. This may very well be the last existing recording Steven Deal recorded before his untimely passing. So Sorry, indeed.
The two best cuts on this tribute come The Split Squad who recorded a cover one of the Records’ early hits, “Teenarama”, and Lannie Flowers who gives us a jangle-fest with his version of “Up All Night”. The Split Squad consists of powerpop / rock luminaries Keith Streng (Fleshtones), Clem Burke (Blondie),and Eddie Munoz (The Plimsouls). They landed it perfectly on one take. The honors, however, go to Lannie Flowers who made the song his own
while not deviating too far from the original.
I had the honor to speak ever so briefly with these guys at the IPO show that Flowers refers to in the disc’s liner notes and I must tell you, outside of the Records (who played a later set at that same show), Lannie’s band was the clear winner of the evening. To hear him and his band perform a Wicks classic and give it a treatment every bit deserving of such a wonderfully written song is a sheer pleasure to behold.
The bottom line? Lots of songs, many stories, not all great but worth your time and money for the surprises.
Actually, “Your Own Soundtrack” was a non-LP B side to the single “Imitation Jewelry.”
I stand corrected. Hard to believe I made this error as Chris Gent did lead vocals on it, meaning that it could only have been post Crashes. My Bad. Thanks for the correction.