Pure Pop for Hyped 2 Death People
I've raved about Hyped2Death's UK post-punk/DIY singles series Messthetics. Now, it's time to rave about H2D's 7-CD American powerpop singles series, Teenline. (Thanks for loaning me this set, Ty!)
Described by H2D as "the greatest American powerpop compilations ever, anywhere!", it follows the same A-through-Z (from the Abstracts to the Z-Rocks) approach of the Messthetics series to compile singles by (mostly) unknown American pop bands whose work has been lost between the grooves - until now. Sure, some of the names may sound familiar - like The Speedies (thanks to that HP commercial featuring their "Let Me Take Your Foto"), Cleveland's Dead Boy Stiv Bators, Detroit's Romantics, Boston's Real Kids, Tulsa's 20/20 and NYC's post-Robert Gordon Tuff Darts - but the rest are fairly unknown on the national level (at least to me!).
Milwaukee's Finest: The Shivvers
The series takes its name from the 1980 self-produced single "Teen Line" by Milwaukee's The Shivvers, which according to H2D sells for $300+ (!) on eBay. The original coveted picture sleeve is shown below:
Milwaukee's finest were led by singer-songwriter-keyboardist Jill Kossoris, who made the '60s-rooted band sound like a "female Raspberries." The other Shivvers included bassist Scott Krueger, guitarists Mike Pyle and Jim Eannelli (later replaced by Breck Burns) and drummer Jim Richardson. Here's what the blog Lost Bands of the New Wave Era, had to say about "Teen Line":
"Teen Line" is a slice of great powerpop with female lead vocals reminiscent of Bomp artists the Little Girls or Nikki & The Corvettes. The single was released on the Fliptop independent label in 1980. The Raspberries were a big influence on the Shivvers. Eric Carmen loved the band and wanted to produce them but the collaboration never happened. The Shivvers opened up for The Shoes, The Romantics, and Iggy Pop among others. They broke up in 1982."
THE SHIVVERS - "Teen Line"
H2D also offers a Shivers enhanced CD called Lost Hits from Milwaukee's First Family of Powerpop, 1979-82 - the "enhanced" part is five bonus videos of this great band. For more on The Shivvers, see H2D's great review of the Till the Word Gets Out CD and Killed By Death Records review.
There are way too many outstanding bands here than I have time to write about, so below is a listing of the seven CDs, #101-#108 (note: there is no #104), with notes from the Hyped2death website. Suffice it to say, you need all of them!
I will add one observation from what I've listened to so far: if one band can be said to have influenced the sound heard on this series, I would say it's The Ramones. Yes, the Ramones were "punk," but Joey was always a powerpop (and bubblegum) fan, and while the guitars in this series are twangy and melodic instead of the Ramones trademark buzzsaw sound, the subject matter - girls and teenage kicks - is similar to that covered by Dee Dee and Joey, and quite a few singers recall Joey's vocal style.
Teenline #101 (R & S powerpop & pop-rock: '76-86)
Amazing pop. Featuring our title track, from the Shivvers, the Reruns' classic "Since You Gotta Cheat" AND a hot remastered track from their rare second 45, Screen Test (ex-Flashcubes), Sgt. Arms (Bill Lloyd), Real Kids, Rockers, Regular Guys, Riff Doctors, Sex Clark 5, Rattlecats, Responsible Teenagers, Service, Romantics, Saucers, Scott & Marc, Shoes and Radio Alarm Clocks. 26 tracks.
Teenline #102 (S powerpop & pop-rock: '79-85)
The magnificent Speedies, Strand, Spongetones, Skunks, Sidewalks, Sighs, Secrets, Squares, Squirrels from Hell, Side Effex, and the Shy and new tracks from the Shambles, Smart Remarks and Shane Champagne. 23 songs.
Teenline #103 ("T": '76-85)
Tearaways, Toys, Trouble Boys, Tweeds, 2 Minutes 50, Tools, Tiny Voices, Taxi Boys, Third Floor Strangers, Justin Trouble, Trademarks, 20/20, Torpedos, Tuff Darts and Marc Thor. New material from the Transformers and the Trend [from Kennett, Mo]. 23 tracks.
My Personal Pick: I've been playing Teenline #103 a lot because it resurrects 20/20's hard-to-find single "Giving It All" (originally released on Greg Shaw's Bomp Records label, b/w "Under the Freeway"), which was the Tulsa powerpop group's most overt Beatle-esque statement and featured fellow Okie Phil Seymour (Dwight Twilley Band) on drums. At one point it was on Rhino Records DIY compilation Shake It Up, American Power Pop II (1978-80), but has long since been out-of-print. Thank you H2D!
Teenline #104 n'exist pas
There is no Teenline #104...Though it might end up being a supplemental volume of mid-80s jangle-pop...
Teenline #105 (American powerpop & pop-rock: U-to-Z)
X Davis, Windbreakers, Gary Valentine, Upstarts, Yankees, Wayfarers, The Wind, Wild Giraffes, Wishniaks, Jimmy Vigtone, Wednesday Week, Zamp & the Suspects, Van Dykes, Zodio Doze, The Young Idea, Z-Rocks, U.S. ModsÖ 21 tracks.
Teenline #106 (American powerpop & pop-rock: A & B)
Arlis, Artists, Boyfriends, Stiv Bators, Boys Life, Action, Abstracts, Bandables, Astrobeats, Berrys, Ambulance, Craig Bevan, Agents, Beex, Bas Clas, Blue Shoes, Beat Rodeo, Boy Trouble, Blitz, B-MinorsÖ 22 tracks.
Teenline #107 (North American powerpop & pop-rock: B & C)
Cheese, Boys, Boyz, Cheepskates, Comateens, Colors, Crash Kills Five, The Cold, David Branyan, David Burdick, Clicks, Breathers, Buzzarians, J.D. Buhl & the Believers, Cheeters, Gary Charlson, Conditionz, Breakers, CucumbersÖ 23 tracks.
Local Yokels Note: The Breakers, a Maryland band who played the Marble Bar regularly, appear on Teenline #107 performing "College Students" (Gone Bop SRL-1675, 1982). They enjoyed some success on the local pop scene from 1979-1982 when their lone EP came out - half of it produced by local hero John Palumbo of Crack the Sky. They started making sleeves for it by hand but quickly ran out of patience. Drummer/lyricist Mark Klotzbach is now playing with Still Life.
Teenline #108 (American powerpop, A, B & C '78-83)
27 stellar, All-American powerpop and poprock tracks from 1973 through the '80s. This time it's all A, B & C bands mostly from 12" records (real or imagined). THE COLORS, BROKEN HEARTS, BURDONS, THE ANSWER, STIV BATORS, THE BOYS, BREATHERS, COMMANDOS, CRACKERS, ASTROSURF, CORSAIRS, CRAIG BEVAN & the TOURISTS, & BOHEMIA. Plus never-before released material from ARLIS (a/k/a Peach & Lee), THE CHEEPSKATES, CLICKS, DAVID BRANYAN, ALTER EGO and COWBOY & SPINGIRL.
To play sample TEENLINE MP3s, click below:
Regular Guys - "Too Dumb"
Riff Doctors - "You Turn Me On"
Shivvers - "Teen Line"
Speedies - "Let Me Take Your Foto"
The Strand - "One More Ring"
The Sidewalks - "Natalie"
For more info on these bands, see H2D's liner notes:
Teenline ABC bands
Teen R-Z bands
For more on powerpop, see:
Yummy Strummy Gummy