My mailbox was a twitter this past weekend when I finally received my copy of the new book from Not Lame, titled Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Powerpop Guide (no immediate relation to the Seattle band of the same name, but no doubt inspired by the same Flamin’ Groovies tune). Aside from being a nice primer on powerpop for the newbie, the book is a nostalgic look back for long-time fans. Of particular interest to me, of course, were the Seattle-related entries, of which there were many.
After a few introductions and ruminations, the book provides a semi-quick history of the (ongoing, I might say) development of the genre. The majority of the last half of the book is dedicated to the “200 greatest powerpop albums” (spoiler alert: They declare number one to be The Raspberries’ Starting Over).
Not surprisingly, The Posies merit multiple mentions in the book, both on their own merit and through their relationship with the reformed/reconfigured edition of Big Star (their Dear 23 record comes in at number 85 on the list). Rightfully so. But, I was pleased to find a number of other entries of note.
The first Seattle band to appear in the countdown is the venerable The Heats, (aka The Heaters) and their album Smoke, which comes in at number 41. These titans of Seattle powerpop ruled the land back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. You can still find Steve Pearson performing with British Racing Green, today.
The Model Rocketsâ€™ Tell The Kids The Cops Are Here lands at number 104. Of course, the songwriting talents of John Ramberg are still in full effect via The Tripwires, and you can catch Boyd Remillard and Scott Sutherland in The Doll Test (in truth, you can catch Scott in a lot of bands, including The Riffbrokers, Llama, Paul Lynde Fanclub and probably some others).
The often overlooked Jim Basnight and the Moberlys‘ Seattle-New York-Los Angeles earns a slot at number 140. Jim is still very active with his current band and can be seen at a variety of venues around the region.
The book closes with a number of top ten lists from a variety of musicians and writers. I won’t break those down in any detail here. But, it’s worth noting that other Seattle bands like The Fastbacks, Young Fresh Fellows, and The Green Pajamas get mentions.
Even yours truly makes an appearance in the online resources section of the book (yay me…) with the Seattle Power Pop Blog.
As evidenced by all the entries, Seattle’s powerpop scene has always been strong and got solid coverage in this well-considered document. The powerpop community here is rocking particularly hard right now. So, go enjoy some of this stuff today so that you don’t have to read about it with regret in the 2025 follow up edition of this book!
Gary Miller runs the Seattle Power Pop Blog, which focuses on all things powerpop in the Pacific Northwest. SPB features album reviews, recommended shows, videos, mp3s and more.