The very idea of underground pop should be ludicrous, an oxymoron like jumbo shrimp. "Pop" is supposed to be an abbreviation of "popular." and how could popular music be an underground movement?
But that's being overly coy. Underground pop does indeed exist, and it will stay underground for as long as the actual pop charts remain occupied by turgid corporate noises that have about as much in common with true pop as a snake oil salesman has with Dr. Jonas Salk. In this terminology, pop refers to an elusive blend of hooks, harmonies, romance and eternal innocence, with a bedrock of self-assured determination.
The sound is based on the early Beatles and other British Invasion-era acts, and on subsequent power pop prototypes like the Raspberries, the Flamin" Groovies. Badfinger. Big Star and the Plimsouls. It is pop music somehow forced underground by the public's (and certain rock critics') incomprehensible indifference or even hostility, consigned to the dustbin of nostalgia by smug simpletons who believe themselves above the appeal of the heart and soul. It is a pop music that will nonetheless survive the neglect and the disrespect, sustained by the faith of the faithful.
In the pop crusade, no one is more faithful than Jordan Oakes, whose Yellow Pills is the pop fanzine, and who compiled this CD as a summation of what he's crusading for. Subtitled "The Best Of American Pop!," Yellow Pills delivers exactly that: a who's-who of American pop, with 21 mostly new or previ-ously-unreleased tracks by a slew of pop icons and obscurities. A set with tracks by Dwight Twilley, Shoes, 20/20. Enuff Z'Nuff. the Spongetones. the Rubinoos. Tommy Keene. Wally Bryson (ex-Raspberries) and even the Cowsills ought to get any pure pop fan salivating: news that each track is emphatically not a throw-away, and can stand proudly alongside each artist's best work, should send that fan straight into orbit.
Dwight Twillev kicks things off with "Remedies."' a rockin' delight that's the best thing he's done since the 70s. and that is not faint praise. Shoes' "I Miss You" is likewise their purest-sounding work in many years, and the Cowsills establish a newfound mature pop credibility with "Is It Any Wonder." The reunited 20/20 (after whose 1979 "Yellow Pills" single Oakes named his fanzine) contributed the CD's best track. "Song Of The Universe." a self-confident blast of pop power whose "It's all right to feel this good again!" line could serve as a slogan for the whole collection.