Let’s get one thing out of the way: the songs included on this compilation are not power pop. What we have on display on Power For Passion are obscure or never before released pop punk gems. It’s all part of the Bacchus Archives effort at making early punk rock rarities and previously unreleased material available. There are fifteen tracks by twelve artists, several of them from Connecticut and Massachusetts. A compilation like this has no scene to document or specific historic moment to chronicle so it stands or falls on the strength of the songs included.
A good portion of obscure or unreleased music probably deserves that status based on either poor recording quality or bad songwriting, but the Power For Passion offerings suffer from neither one. Its chock full of jittery melodic punk predominately of British style guaranteed to bring a smile to even the most jaded of punk rawkers. There’s an excitement to the tracks most of them made on the quick and financed on the money, hopes, and aspirations of rock and roll dreamers who may have fell short of making the big time but who still made their mark.
The Reducers: “Small Talk”
Stratford Survivors: “Now I Know”
The Nips: “Take Me Down”
Matcheads: “Pearl Harbor”
The Reactors: “The Dispossessed”
The Reducers: “Black Plastic Shoes”
The Headaches: “Teenage Sex”
The Silencers: “Boyfriends/Girlfriends”
The Ejectors: “Fade With The Summer”
The Foreign Objects: “You Go Home”
Butch Minds The Baby: “Natural Cause”
TV Neats: “Who’s Courting Who”
The Foreign Objects: “Plan 9”
The Headaches: “Power For Passion”
Dennis Most: “Life Can Be A Cruel Gig”
My favorites are The Reducers “Small Talk”, a very British sounding song by a band whose London connection was hailing from New London, Connecticut. A very active bass line underpins a standard kiss off lyric. The stammering beat of the Daniel Rey produced Stratford Survivors reminds me of The Alarm. “Take Me Down”, by what I assume is Shane MacGowan’s old band The Nips has one of the standout cuts rocking out much like the Undertones did on their debut album. The Reactors “The Dispossessed” is a classic punk complaint list featuring this great line, “if we hear you bitch about the sound we get we’ll turn everything up on ten.” The Reducers play some manic rockabilly thumping punk on “Black Plastic Shoes” showing some variety in their style. The Headaches from Chicago are dead ringers for Generation X. The vocals are uncanny; it’s as if they kidnapped Billy Idol. The Foreign Objects score twice on the fun scale with the Troggs meets Devo thud rock of “You Go Home” and the carnival organ propelled apocalyptic tale of “Plan 9.” The best lyric of the CD belongs to The Silencers from “Boyfriends/Girlfriends” as the Poly Styrene inflected vocalist lists a bunch of reasons against romance including “I don’t need no cheap shots below the belt, I haven’t got room for no one else”; cheap narcissism will always take you far.
Power For Passion may not deliver the “power pop” goods the CD cover promised, but it certainly comes across with sizzling punk snappers. The punk rock completist will be pleased and the young kids get a nice history lesson. I think I’ll go join The Foreign Objects and “hide in my room and play records” while I wait for “the Earth to pop like a huge zit.”
This review was cooked up at Soulfish Stew …mmm delicious.