Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Nerves - Hanging On The Telephone

A1. Hanging On The Telephone

A2. When You Find Out

B1. Give Me Some Time

B2. Working Too Hard

THE NERVES (Los Angeles, CA)
Hanging On The Telephone EP
Nerves Record Co (N4501), 1976

The Nerves existed for just a couple years and only released a single EP, but today they are regarded as one of the most renowned and influential power pop bands in the world. The magnificent trio consisted of Jack Lee on guitar, Peter Case on bass and Paul Collins on drums. They formed in San Francisco, but soon made Los Angeles their home. All members contributed songs and vocal duties. Collectively, they made some of the most memorable and catchy songs the genre has heard.

The band financed and released their spectacular four-song EP, which featured the Jack Lee-penned "Hanging On The Telephone" that was later made famous by Blondie on their Parallel Lines album and covered by countless others. Paul Collins acted as manager and booked an entire tour in which they covered almost 25k miles of road across America in a mid-60s station wagon in the summer of 1977. They quickly sold 2,000 copies of their record before Bomp repressed another batch to help finance their tour. The way to differentiate the two pressings is that the first one has a black back cover and states "The Nerves Record Co" with a Hollywood address (shown above). The Bomp issue has a white back cover and no mention of the Nerves Record Co.

Unfortunately, through all their efforts and endless gigging, the band couldn't catch a break. Piling tensions forced the band to split in 1978 at which time Paul Collins and Peter Case continued playing together for a little while longer in a band called The Breakaways. After auditioning countless guitar players, Case and Collins eventually jumped on the six strings themselves, recruiting Mike Ruiz and Steven Huff in their place on bass and drums. The Breakaways produced many recordings in their short existence, including several songs that were standards in The Nerves' live set. None of them were released at the time, however the stellar "Walking Out On Love" and "One Way Ticket" were later featured on Bomp's "Roots Of Power Pop" CD compilation.

Peter eventually decided to branch out, forming The Plimsouls. The remaining guys morphed into The Beat (later changed to Paul Collins Beat due to confusion with the English Beat). They both took some of their Nerves and Breakaways-penned songs into their new projects and continued writing great power pop tunes, each having a moderate degree of success for a while. The Plimsouls were featured a couple times in the movie Valley Girl performing their song "Million Miles Away," while a Beat song made its way onto the Caddyshack soundtrack, though the scene it was featured in was cut from the movie.

Peter Case still tours on occasion. Paul Collins is very active, having put out several albums over the past few years and playing many shows across the US and all through Europe with different line-ups. Jack Lee's output after The Nerves was limited. He wrote songs for Blondie, Suzy Quatro and others. He released an album of reworked Nerves songs and some new material called Jack Lee's Greatest Hits, Vol 1. A second volume never materialized, though he did release a Self Titled album a few years later.

Bomp's subsidiary, Alive, has recently issued collections of Nerves and Breakaways material which are readily available. They will also be releasing a brand new Paul Collins record in August called "The King Of Power Pop."

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Protex - Don't Ring Me Up

A1. Don't Ring Me Up

B1. Just Want (Your Attention)

B2. Listening In

PROTEX (Belfast, Northern Ireland)
Don't Ring Me Up b/w Just Want (Your Attention)/Listening In
Rough Trade (RT/GOT-1), 1978

Aidan Murtagh and Owen McFadden started playing together in the Incredibly Boring Band in 1977, primarily doing covers. After witnessing Clash's debut performance in Belfast, they formed Protex Blue (titled after the Clash's song) along with David McMaster and Paul Maxwell in the Spring of 1978. They started doing original, energetic pop material, although they did incorporate some covers into their set. They eventually dropped the "Blue" in their name to differentiate themselves from their favorite band.

Their first EP was released on Terri Hooley's tremendous Good Vibrations label in November of that year and quickly reissued on Rough Trade to keep up with demand (pictured above). Following the success of the single, as well as their session on Great Britain's Radio One Show, Protex was approached by several English record companies before signing with Polydor.

While the band was still in school, they were flown out to London to record their "I Can't Cope" single in early '79, but they had to get back to Belfast to complete their A-Levels (Advanced Levels). By that summer, the band decided to take up residency in London and focus more on their music.

The band released their third single, "I Can Only Dream," before going in the studio with legendary musician/manager/producer Chas Chandler. Unforunately no one was pleased with the end result and the record was shelved.

The band released one more single, "A Place In Your Heart," before heading off on a US tour. John T. Davis thankfully made a 15 minute film of the band at a show they played in New York at Hurrah's on St Patrick's Day (most of which could be seen on Youtube). Unfortunately, it wasn't long after when the band called it quits.

Every song the band did was outstanding. One of the youngest and greatest power pop bands there ever was. Their songs were featured on compilations such as Made In Britain, Bloodstains, Powerpearls and others. Also, two different bootleg LPs exist collecting variations of their recorded material. Sing Sing Records is supposed to be releasing an "official" LP of unheard Protex music this month.