BUTTONS: From Champaign To Chicago
The party line on power pop forefathers Big Star is that they were woefully under-appreciated during the 1970s. And sure, it’s true, in the 70s, no one was paying attention. But if I read about them being “underrated” one more time, gosh darnit, I don’t know what I’ll do. They’re totally rated! Box sets, reissues, tribute albums, documentaries, reunion tours, effusive ink spilled all over the place. Big Star have become Big Stars. If we’re going to talk about truly under-appreciated power pop, let’s all listen to the Numero Group’s new Buttons series. The first one, From Champaign To Chicago, takes a look at a host of Lincoln State bands that were active in the mid 70s to mid 80s. The label could’ve subtitled this one “In The Wake Of Cheap Trick,” I suppose. Taking the same rigorous curatorial approach as with their beloved soul/funk reissues, Numero uncovers a deep vein of catchy hooks, crunchy guitars, creamy harmonies and crush-y lyrics about girls, all from acts I’ve pretty much never heard of. The Prettyboys! The Vertebrats! The Names! The Jerks! [I have heard of The Shoes, whose awesome “In My Arms Again" is featured here.] Almost all of these tracks will beg the question: why wasn’t this a huge hit? Fortunately, the liners fill in the gaps with fascinating photos and histories for each band. Even if it was ignored the first time around, this pop remains powerful.
Check out samples here