Paul Collins’ Beat – To Beat or Not to Beat (1983); Long Time Gone (1985): Reissue

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For those who have only a fleeting interest in pop culture, the music industry of the late 1970s is often remembered as the moment when the mainstream rock biz became bloated and self-serving, paving the way for the ascendency of punk rock and disco.

Others know it wasn’t that simple.

For instance, though punk exploded onto the scene in a maelstrom of primitive musicianship, DiY production values and trash fashion sense, it was soon after co-opted and rebranded as new wave. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing: it allowed many musicians the freedom to pursue their own individual artistic visions without having to conform to a marketable mainstream standard.

One of the results of this was the establishment of a genre eventually labelled as power pop. It was in essence really a form of rock music, characterized by short, energetic, guitar-based arrangements of simple chord progressions that supported catchy and melodic vocals and vocal harmonies.

One of the great power pop bands that came along in the late ’70s/early ’80s was Paul Collins’ Beat (sometimes known as Paul Collins and the Beat, or simply the Beat). They got a major label signing to CBS Records and released two classic albums, but neither achieved real commercial success – possibly due to confusion with the popular new wave/ska band The (English) Beat, or maybe getting caught in the “Nuke the Knack” backlash against power-pop megastars the Knack. Eventually, Paul Collins’ Beat moved to smaller label, releasing the EPs To Beat or Not to Beat in 1983 and Long Time Gone in 1985.

Recently, these two EPs have been reissued as a single album in all the usual formats. There are a number of standout tracks, one of the being “All Over the World,” which ought to go on that imaginary list of greatest power pop songs of all time.

Other great moments from Paul Collins’ Beat are found in the edgy “Give Me the Drugs” and the pseudo ballad “Standing in the Rain,” but really, the whole release is on par with their previous two full length LPs, 1979’s The Beat and 1981’s The Kids Are the Same, both of which are still probably available on some format or other as well.

The reissue of Long Time Gone/To Beat or Not to Beat completes the trifecta of releases from the classic era of Paul Collins’ Beat. Crank it up, and bop ‘til you drop.

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