• Pop
  • The Pop (Automatic) 1977 
  • Go! (Arista) 1979 
  • Hearts and Knives EP (Rhino) 1981 
  • David Swanson
  • Reclamation (MCA) 1990 

Essentially a routine hard-rock/power pop outfit, this LA group acquired hipness through an actively pro-local scene stance as well as attitudes shared with more overtly rebellious colleagues. Their DIY debut LP shows them equally adept at pounding out fierce rockers and lovingly constructing softer, more melodic tracks, with occasionally eccentric production touches, linking both in the anthemic “Down on the Boulevard.” As good as the Raspberries’ Starting Over but more urgent, and less studiedly nostalgic or obviously derivative.

Produced by Earle Mankey, Go! shows how the band moved with the times, modifying British modern pop notions to suit themselves. Not quite as humor-conscious (for better and worse) as XTC, the Pop employs a strangely detached intensity that gives a fillip to each track. There isn’t any one brilliant number (although “Under the Microscope” comes close), yet Go! is entertaining straight through.

Two years later, without the guitar and arranging talents of Tim McGovern (who had joined the pre-stardom Motels) or the support of a major label, the remaining foursome sound somewhat chastened for not having played it safer — and they do. The six-song Hearts and Knives presents a blander version of their former selves: pleasant, lightweight originals and a lame Stones cover that’s limply out of character.

Towards the end of the ’80s, singer/guitarist Roger Prescott surfaced in a band called Train Wreck Ghosts, which he formed with ex-Plimsouls guitarist Eddie Munoz following the latter’s brief stint in the dB’s. He and Munoz then hired on to the Walking Wounded, and appeared on one of that group’s records before continuing their Texas-based band. The Pop’s other frontman, David Swanson, reappeared in 1990 with a dull album of awkwardly sung heartland rock.

[Jim Green / Ira Robbins]

See also: Walking Wounded