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

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