Yellow Pills: Prefill follows up the other Numero Group compilations which spotlighted a lost genre of music, but where the Eccentric Soul series spotlighted obscure independent soul labels, Yellow Pills takes a look at some overlooked power pop mostly recorded between 1979 and 1982 (with a couple of groups from the 90s thrown in). Assembled with the help of Jordan Oakes, who was the originator of the Yellow Pills zine and compilations in the 90s, Prefill takes a step further into the nether regions of the power pop world for a 2 cd set chock full with 33 obscurities.
Yellow Pills: Prefill features tunes from the following bands: Luxury, Tweeds, Colors, Speedies, Shoes, Sponsors, Bats, Randy Winburn, Toms, Kids, Treble Boys, Tommy Rock, Finns, Tactics, Trend, LMNOP, Jack Stack A Track and Brat.
I do wonder if it was necessary to stretch this collection out over two discs and not over a series of one disc compilations like the Eccentric Soul series. Either that, or skim some of the lesser tunes out and whittle it down to one chock full disc. Putting two cds together inflates the price (and indeed, this 2 cd set was way more than it shold've been since the label is based out of Chicago) and makes it harder for people to dish out for music they most probably haven't heard before. I also was wonder why it couldn't be squeezed on a single disc, especially considering each disc is almost like mixtape lengths, with the first disc clocking in at 45 minutes and the second disc at 49 minutes.
Disc one is the stronger of the two discs (and more power pop of the two). The band Luxury from Iowa offers up two fine power pop nuggets culled from the same single - Green Hearts b/w One in a Million. Green Hearts is an upbeat and infectious number, while One in a Million is a mellower gummy confection which actually reminds me of One Time In A Million by 1960s/1970s bubblegum group The Hardy Boys (a group featuring Ellie Greenwich and Mike Rashkow). I wonder if they ever heard that tune from circa 1970.
The Tweeds and The Bats were both from Boston - the Tweeds I Need That Record is the b-side to Perfect Fit (not included here). I Need That Record sounds like The Undertones and mentions such local Boston record stores as Nuggets. The Tweeds' She's The Girl (Who Said No) is a slower paced tune, which still has it's moments for a great and under-rated band. The Bats are not the New Zealand band - they're a little cheesier than The Tweeds, but still nice. Not My Girl Anymore is a Cars-like anthem while Mr. Peculiar is a bouncy Beatlesque tune not unlike some House Martins moments. Bats member Tom Brion is now a producer and apparently their album is super rare and highly sought after.
The Colors actually have three songs here - two on disc one (All I Want and Rave It Up) and one on disc two (Growing Up American). They have a Revillos sound.
The Speedies have a more raw power pop sound. You Need Pop and 1-2-3 are both unreleased tracks which might explain that, but they're both great tracks so it's a shame these never saw the light of day.
The Shoes were the only band I recognized, and here we are treated to their unreleased tune called Like I Told You not found on their albums Black Vinyl Shoes or Present Tense. It's got a nice chunky riff mixed with chiming guitars and a catchy melody.
The Kids featured here are not the punk rock Kids from Belgium. These Kids are from San Antonio, Texas and they've got two infectious tunes called Hey Little Girl and There Goes My Heart Again (the second one on disc two).
The Sponsors' In And Out Of Love has a playful lyric and a steady rhythm which is quite catchy - though I wasn't as crazy about their Love I Can't Wait (found on disc two).
If you like Beach Boys / Curt Boettcher type of harmonies then you definitely need to check out the sweetness that is Randy Winburn's Somebody Else's Girl. Definitely the best song that Curt Boettcher never wrote.
Randy Winburn also has a track on disc two - his Sunshine USA is another sweet and twee confection worth checking out which was the a-side to Somebody Else's Girl. Apparently, these two tracks may never even have been issued. The Randy Winburn tracks along with the Tommy Rock track Dream Rocker (found on disc two) were all produced by Kim Fowley who was definitely showing his love for California harmony vocals with these two artists.
Tommy Rock was actually Kim Fowley's chauffeur and was given the name Tommy Rock by Kim Fowley after working in The Dreamers. His Dream Rocker sounds like a Nick Lowe track.
You will surely notice yourself deep into the cheesier side of power pop by the time you get to disc two. The Toms were really Tommy Marolda and his song (I Wanna Be A) Teen Again is from his Tomfoolery LP. It's a nostalgic tune that definitely has equal parts cheese and goodness. If you listen closely, it sounds like Tommy wants to be a teen again more so he can love the teen girls than for any longing for his own youth.
The Trends were from Missouri and their two tunes She's Hi Fi and (I Feel Like A) Dictionary are both solid with robotic rhythms and catchy harmony melodies that help these tracks stand out on disc two.
Jack "Stack-A-Track" Grochmal is better known as a recording engineer but here we get to hear his tune Good Time Music which sounds like it should've been included on a Beach Boys album.
LMNOP is really Steven Fievet who has been making cassette recordings for 20 years (and more recently cds) - Forever Through The Sun is just now being released on cd for the first time - it's a power pop nugget which was the a-side to a single b/w Three Colon Oh Oh (not included here).
The Brat demo Long Time Away was later recorded by the band Artful Dodger (a band I've always been curious about) - it's a country tinged track that was re-recorded for the Artful Dodger album.
I wasn't too crazy about the two songs by The Treble Boys called Julie-Anne and One Kiss - but it's interesting to note that their drummer also played on John Lennon's Double Fantasy album and in Roxy Music.
I suppose the 90s bands included here show that power pop is a continuous genre not just held to one time period, but I wasn't too crazy about the 90s bands here (like Finn from St Louis). I suppose people who like Superchunk might like them.