Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio

Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio is the archive for the premiere website that covered the melodic pop scene with in-depth reviews of new and reissued recordings, and a wide variety of features. We are now closed for new activity.

New on Pure Pop Radio 08.15.17: Coke Belda Wins Again, Bob of the Pops is Popping Again, and the Bye Bye Blackbirds Soar

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Spins and Reviews | 08.15.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

coke belda 3gs cover for websiteCoke Belda | Coke Belda 3 (Gs) (2017)
So natural is Coke Belda’s ability to breathe new life into the songs of the Bee Gees that it would seem perfectly acceptable to call him “Mr. Natural,” at least temporarily, and in honor of one of the songs on this alluring celebration of the charms of the Brothers Gibb.

The long-awaited followup to 2013’s Coke Belda I and 2015’s Nummer Zwei similarly breathes new life into the art of musical homage. Certainly, paying tribute to favored artists is a tradition in pop music; it is not uncommon to come upon covers of certain songs or collections dedicated to a particular group, such as Zero Hour Records’ new tribute to the Knack, Not the Knack. So Coke Belda’s 12 song paean of Bee Gees joy is not all that unexpected, especially when you consider how enamored he is of the group’s songs.

Which is obvious as Coke serves up peerless versions of classics and buried treasures such as “Run to Me,” “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You” and “Sir Geoffrey Saved the World” with both reverent approach and Belda style. Playing all the instruments and singing all the vocal parts (save for some welcome and soulful passages from Gretchen Wheels’ Lindsay Murray on “Run to Me” and “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You”), Coke delivers a tour de force that should land on more than a few best-of lists later this year.

One of the absolute joys of a terrific album such as the rather cleverly titled Coke Belda 3 (Gs) is discovering the surprises contained within, and seeing the striking cover art by Ignacio Alcázar. Speaking of surprises, 1965’s “Claustrophobia,” arranged and played by Coke as a sweet Merseybeat romp, will have you booking tickets for the Cavern in Liverpool (and a virtual time travel trip back to the 1960s). The album closer, a beautiful take on “Our Love (Don’t Throw It All Away),” a top 10 Billboard chart hit for Andy Gibb in 1978, written by Bee Gee Barry and keyboardist Blue Weaver, is another welcome, perhaps unexpected nugget.

Coke Belda 3 (Gs) is the, yes, natural and welcome third project from the artist whose travels brought him from Spain to take root in Germany and now in the United States. Naturally, this is the next step in Coke’s musical journey, and one you should absolutely follow with glee.

black box Where to Get It: Futureman Records (digital–preorder here), Kool Kat Musik (CDs–preorder here), and Rock Indiana (link to come)

bob of the pops vol. 2Robyn Gibson | Bob of the Pops Vol. 2 (2017)
My love for cool covers of melodic pop songs from across the decades knows no bounds, so it was a fait accompli that a second dip into the treasure trove of Robyn Gibson’s favorite pop nuggets would stir my interest.

And so it has. I raved about Bob of the Pops Vol. 1 back in May; if anything, I feel more strongly about this collection, and that’s really saying something. This time around, “Bob” has essayed some truly spectacular wares with truly spectacular results by such artists as the Tremeloes, the Byrds, Abba, the Soft Boys, the Who, and the Dukes of Stratosphear (aka XTC). He’s also taken flight, in similarly spectacular fashion, with the Monkees’ “Girl that I Knew Somewhere” and Matthew Sweet’s “I’ve Been Waiting.” And a little group from Liverpool’s “There’s a Place.”

Once again, “Bob,” in his various pseudonymous guises, has played all the instruments and sung all the vocal parts. It’s all to, yes, spectacular, highly enjoyable effect, and it’s a free download from Futureman Records’ Bandcamp page, leaving you and yours to simply click the proper links and enjoy. Volume three please, “Bob,” and soonest, if you will.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

the bye bye blackbirds take out the poison coverThe Bye Bye Blackbirds | Take Out the Poison (2017)
Bradley Skaught’s Oakland, California-based outfit have been strong performers of the melodic pop art since arriving on the scene in 2006 with their Honeymoon EP. This full-length effort, their latest release, is their best offering yet, with 11 finely wrought, emotionally charged songs that will surely take root in listener’s hearts.

Highlights are many, and varied. The aggressive pop-rocker “Alfred Starr Hamilton” pops hard with lots of guitars and an enticing melody. “Let Your Hair Fall Down” is an out-and-out pop workout, complete with horns, sounding right out of the J. Geils playbook. The mid-tempo country ballad, “Duet,” features strings and a lovely vocal by Lindsay Paige Garfield, who co-wrote the song with Bradley. And “Poison Love,” a fiercely upbeat country rocker, carries a lineage that goes as far back as 1951, when Johnnie and Jack hit big with the Elmer Laird tune on no less than three Billboard country charts.

Take Out the Poison is no less than one of this year’s finest releases. Take a bow, Bradley Skaught, Aaron Rubin, Lenny Gill, KC Bowman, and so many other fine performers. Pop, and rock, on.

black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp

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Pure Pop Radio’s signature shows, Alan Haber’s Pop Tunes Deejay Show, playing the latest and greatest melodic pop songs from today and across the decades, and Pure Pop Radio: In Conversation, the premiere Internet melodic pop talk show, air weekly on Pop that Goes Crunch Radio.

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