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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Fave Punk Records - Giving It All - 20/20

giving it all blog version

So, I lied… this is Power Pop at its very best. Back in the day, Power Pop and punk rock cohabited peacefully on the scene and on stages.

20 20 in air

There were no better purveyors of pure pop for LA people (thanks to Nick Lowe for that turn of phrase, by the way, which I have appropriated and customized for this entry) than the Oklahoma transplants Steve Allen and Ron Flynt. These guys were cross-town high school rivals of Dwight Twilley and Phil Seymour, who also made their way out to LA in the 70s.

It is the late Phil Seymour playing the drums on "Giving It All." All the band members sang, adding to the beautiful Beatle-esque harmonies and vocal arrangements of both tracks. Phil is credited on the sleeve only with a "special thanks" – but those who know, know.

I think the reason that pop and punk existed fantastically side-by-side during LA's golden age of punk is because of the DIY/indie camaraderie and shared dislike of corporate rock which was beginning to show its ugly face around the same time.

The 70s were a time when it became clear to businessmen that rock n roll was indeed here to stay and they formed quite a powerful business model after the lessons that both labels AND bands learned from their 1950s and 60s predecessors. I'm still trying to figure out who opened Pandora's Box, and I'm thinking that for better or worse, it was probably the Beatles and their Apple business…

20-20- backstage
Fans and friends of 20/20 and band members Steve Allen and Mike Gallo flank Rodney Bingenheimer at the band's record release show at the Whisky a Go Go

But back to the 70s and LA…

The Bomp label had plenty to do with the actual and the perceived goodwill of LA bands. Sure, people who know me have heard me say that punk rock was just like high school, and it was. And Bomp was one of the teams you simply had to be on. So was Dangerhouse. Both indie labels saw their alumnae graduate to the majors. In fact, 20/20 stepped up to the CBS group of companies, and Dangerhouse's X made it to Elektra.

20/20 started as the trio of Steve Allen, Ron Flynt and Mike Gallo. Later, they added Chris Silagyi on second guitar and keyboards. When they signed their major deal and released the single "Yellow Pills," I was, at the time, taken aback at how modern sounding and contemporary the track was. It wasn't until about 20 years later that I grew to appreciate just how fantastic that track was. 20/20 hindsight, eh? Yes, a bad pun, but I had to go there.

If you were to create a list of must-have singles from the Golden Age of LA Punk, this one is high on the list. If you can't find the single (and you probably cannot), "Giving it All" is available on Rhino Records' DIY compilation series on the Shake It Up, American Power Pop II (1978-80) volume.

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