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Sunday, 24 August 2008

Power pop perfection

Much of the very best popular music is lost to history. The people behind re-issue label Numero Group know this better than most. Their series of revisionist compilations goes some way to addressing this, digging up some incredible, and incredibly obscure gems along the way.

Who knew about the extraordinary calypso soul artefacts produced by a Belizean diaspora blown to the United States by the devastating Hurricane Hattie? Next to no-one did before 2005’s Belize City Boil Up let them in on the secret. And who had heard any of the rubbery carib-funk that came out of (or rather, stayed inside of) the Bahamas in the 70s? The answer I suspect is the same, notwithstanding the fact that two of the tracks on the Grand Bahama Goombay compilation are culled from an album issued by the Bahamian ministry of tourism.

The relentless quality of the tracks compiled by the Numero Group makes pretty much any of their compilations a decent bet. My most recent punt was on the Yellow Pills: Prefill CD. It documents a period in music I never knew even occurred – the second bloom of power pop, post punk. One track in particular is a stone cold, bone-fide, 24 carat gold, nailed-on, guaranteed lock of the week lost pop classic. The Sun by the Toms thumps along for three minutes - I didn’t actually check out how long it is but such a perfect pop song must have three minutes just as a circle must have 360 degrees – during which time you get jangling guitars, chiming bells, some wildly unnecessary use of what sounds like a ring modulator and a chorus catchier than a Velcro factory. The Toms turns out to be the one-man band of Tommy Marolda, a still working writer who, according to his own website, most recently contributed four songs to the geriatric boxing sequel Rocky Balboa. Which seems no less unlikely than his own piece of power pop perfection remaining more or less unheard until now.

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