ALBUM: COVER TO COVER
1979 (oRIGINAL RELEASE)
Reviewed by nadja dee
The Pezband are an Oak Park, Illinois band who started back in the 70s. In fact, this re-release is from 1979 but it still sounds very current, most likely thanks to Producer John Pavletic. It’s Pezband’s third album and in most band’s cases, many band's 3rd album either finds them hitting a groove or it shows the band going in a slightly different direction.
I found out that it's bass player Mike Gorman reminds me of Colin Hay, the lead singer of the Australian band Men At Work. Compare the talk singing style of African Night to Men At Work’s “Overkill.” This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just an observation. Maybe Colin and Mike are distant relatives at least in vocal stylings.
Anyway, when a band debuts, they have the benefit of freshness, being a hot new band that nobody’s heard before. If that debut album is a smash hit, then it usually means their 2nd album, their sophomore release, is bound to pale in comparison to their first. One can site many band’s who fall into this trap. It’s actually called the curse of the “Sophomore Slump.” Pearl Jam’s Vs. will never compare to Ten for example. There’s a few artists who have managed to avoid the curse. I can think of Tears for Fears, Oasis and Radiohead as a few of the lucky artists who have been immune to the slump. But it’s usually around the 3rd album that you find the band hitting their groove, or trying new things.
A few folks have criticised Cover to Cover as the band's inspiration being on the decline, but I have to disagree. Sure, it’s hard to surpass a great song like Baby, It’s Cold Outside, but in my opinion Stella Blue or Meika keeps up with the best songs off Pezband (ST) or Laughing In The Dark. I know that at the time Cover to Cover was released, it was during the final peak of the days of Disco. 1979 was the year that Michael Jackson debuted with Off The Wall, Donna Summer released Bad Girls and Prince released the self titled Prince album. But you also had the developing movement going against the smooth, glittery disco sounds like the release of The Clash’s London Calling, Johnny Rotten had departed from the Sex Pistols and put out Public Image Ltd’s 2nd album Metal Box and Joy Division released Unknown Pleasures. Along the Power Pop front you had Nick Lowe’s Labour of Lust, Tom Petty’s also releasing a 3rd album with Damn The Torpedoes, The Cars Candy-O, Utopia’s Adventures In Utopia and don’t forget this was the same year that saw The Knack’s Get The Knack album, containing the most popular Power Pop song of all time, "My Sharona", which hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks.
So, Power Pop was strong this year and only seeming to get stronger, which leads me to ask the question, “Why weren’t Pezband on the top of the charts too with Cover To Cover?”
If anything the catchy, soulful “Didn’t We” (Also included on this re-release in an acoustic version) should have caught the attention of folks who liked Joe Jackson, Blondie, Elton John or America, all bands who released new albums in 1979?
But, here’s your chance to own this long out of print album. As someone who didn’t catch onto Pezband until long after they broke up (But later reformed) I could only find used CDs of Pezband (ST) or Laughing In The Dark for close to $100 each, or the highly collectible Japanese releases for even more. Albums I simply couldn’t afford while I was a starving college student living on ramen noodles.
And since I’m disclosing fully, I have to add that I first thought that Pezband was actually the band, Pez People from the movie The Big Picture (1989) starring Kevin Bacon and Jennifer Jason Leigh. I loved the Pez People’s song, “Don't Fire Until You see the White of Their Eyes,” which I thought was a great but weird pop song by a real band. Since then, I found out it’s a song that could’ve been on Spinal Tap since the song was written and performed by Michael McKean and Christopher Guest. But when I first heard of Pezband I thought you mean that giant Pez band from The Big Picture?
Today, I realize that Pezband were even better than Pez People, but sadly they didn’t get anywhere near their due in mainstream society popularity. I didn’t listen to the original 1979 release, but the remixed release sounds fresh and modern. It’s either the timeless, decade jumping power of Power Pop that this style of music doesn’t sound dated because it’s already retro sounding or good music is just good music.
The re-release of Cover to Cover contains all 11 tracks of the original release plus as I mentioned, extras such as the great acoustic piano song “Didn’t We?” Wouldn’t it be great if high school kids requested this song for their last slow dance?
And if you don’t like the music of Pezband especially on Cover To Cover, all I need to do is repeat the closing words at the end of Full Power, “Hey, wanna fight?” (Just kidding)
Mimi Betinis: Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Tommy Gauvenda: Guitar
Mike Gorman: Guitar, Bass, Vocals
Mick Rain: Drums, Percussion, Vocals
John Pavletic: Engineer, Producer
BUY IT HERE!
DISCLAIMER: HOP ON POWER POP doesn't give stars, a grade or any sort of quantifiable rating. What HOP ON POWER POP does is let you know what HOPP thought of the music by the band at this particular time. If an album isn't to our liking or fitting into the Power Pop genre enough, we simply won't review it.