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Paul Collins

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An important early figure on the Los Angeles power pop scene, Paul Collins was a key member of two bands that anticipated the "skinny tie band" explosion of the late '70s and early '80s, the Nerves and the Beat. Born in New York City, Collins' father was a civilian who worked with the U.S. military, a job that kept his family on the move, and young Paul spent time in Greece, Vietnam, and Europe before ending up back in Manhattan at the age of 14. After graduating from high school, Collins studied composition at the Juilliard School of Music, but listening to AM radio and seeing shows at the Fillmore East had a greater impact on him, and in the early '70s he moved to California to pursue his musical vision of short, punchy rock songs with copious hooks. In 1974, Collins met like-minded songwriters Peter Case and Jack Lee, and they formed a pioneering power pop band called the Nerves. Playing fast, ear-catching pop songs while wearing matching pink suits, the Nerves had more than a bit of the street energy that would later manifest in Los Angeles' early punk movement, and like the punks, the Nerves made their own opportunities when L.A. clubs didn't know what to make of them. The Nerves booked their own shows, did a nationwide tour of small venues on their own dime, and in 1976 put out a four-song 7" EP on their own label. While Blondie would have an early hit with a Nerves cover, "Hanging on the Telephone," the band broke up in 1978, and not long afterward Collins set out to form a new band. Hooking up with bassist Steve Huff, former Milk 'n' Cookies drummer Mike Ruiz, and guitarist Larry Whitman, Collins formed the Beat, whose tight, wiry hard-rockin' pop tunes picked up where the Nerves left off. Championed by Eddie Money, the Beat landed a management deal with West Coast rock powerhouse Bill Graham and a record contract with Columbia, releasing their first album (simply called The Beat) in 1979. While reviews were positive, for the most part American radio was still closed to "new wave" bands, and when the Knack broke through later the same year, it didn't help that the Knack sounded more than a little bit like the Beat -- leading some to believe Collins was copying a style he had helped to invent. It wasn't until 1982 that Collins was able to release a follow-up, and thanks to the burgeoning popularity of the British ska band the Beat, The Kids Are the Same was credited to Paul Collins' Beat. Despite extensive touring, the album fared poorly with record buyers, and Columbia dropped the band; their next record, 1983's To Beat or Not to Beat, was an EP for the independent Passport label. The disc also featured a new lineup of the band, with only Steve Huff remaining with Collins from the first album, and another indie EP with a new version of the band, Long Time Gone, appeared in 1985. After a final studio album credited to Paul Collins & the Beat, 1989's One Night, Collins struck out on his own and released a pair of fine country-rock albums, 1992's Paul Collins and 1993's From Town to Town. By this time, Collins' work (especially his recordings with the Beat) had earned him a sizable fan following in Spain, and a live album from a Spanish tour came out in 1997 (a Spanish Beat gig was also given the live LP treatment in 1986). In 2000, Collins released a new album in Spain, and a new edition of the Beat toured the country in 2005, with a live album from the jaunt in the works. The full-length album Ribbon of Gold followed in 2008. In 2010, Collins returned with the tongue-in-cheek-titled King of Power Pop!, a return to the sound of the Nerves and the Beat recorded in Detroit with producer Jim Diamond. Collins toured extensively in support of the album, and returned to Detroit to record the like-minded follow-up, 2014's Feel the Noise. ~ Mark Deming
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Stations Featuring
Paul Collins


Albums by
Paul Collins

Top Songs by
Paul Collins

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   Flying High
  3.   This Is America
  4.   Dreaming
  5.   I Go Black
  6.   Silly Love
  7.   All Over Town
  8.   Off the Hook
  9.   I'm on Fire
  10.   Down
  11.   Can't Get You Off My Mind
  12.   You Won't Be Happy
  13.   Smile Boy
  14.   She Doesn't Want to Hang Around with You
  15.   Helen
  16.   You Belong With Me
  17.   The Letter
  18.   Feel the Noise
  19.   Paco & Juan
  20.   More Than Yesterday
  21.   Hey DJ
  22.   Big Pop Song
  23.   Parlez Vous Français?
  24.   Flown Away
  25.   Little Suzy
  26.   Will You Be a Woman
  27.   Many Roads to Follow
  28.   You Tore Me Down
  29.   Only Girl
  30.   I Still Want You
  31.   Ribbon of Gold
  32.   Afton Place
  33.   All Eyes To See
  34.   Bobby
  35.   Baby I Want You
  36.   C'mon Let's Go!
  37.   Walk Away
  38.   Kings of Power Pop
  39.   A Girl Like You
  40.   Walking Out on Love
  41.   Work-A-Day-World
  42.   Don't Know How To Treat a Lady
  43.   F.D.R.
  44.   I Need My Rock N' Roll
  45.   Hurting's on My Side
  46.   Reach Out I'll Be There
  47.   Doin' It for the Ladies
  48.   Baby I'm In Love With You
  49.   Falling in Love with Her
  50.   With a Girl Like You
  51.   Do You Wanna Love Me?
  52.   Working Too Hard
  53.   Rock 'N' Roll Shoes
  54.   Don't Blame Your Troubles on Me
  55.   Without You
  56.   Losing Your Cool

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