What? You Haven’t Heard of Paul Collins and Peter Case?
What? You’ve never heard of Paul Collins and Peter Case? Well, we’re not experts either. For the rare occurrences when we don’t know everything there is to know about essential artists, we’re asking local bands to bestow their knowledge and create a primer on bands worth obsessing over. Through the magic of Spotify, we put together a quick, guided playlist through the band’s discography. Welcome to the Reviler Rough Guide. In this edition, Jon Tester of Voytek and Huge Rat Attacks expounds on the genius of the Nerves’ former frontmen Paul Collins and Peter Case.
Self-proclaimed “King of Power Pop” Paul Collins and unofficially-proclaimed “King of the Hook” Peter Case were two-thirds of The Nerves, (aka the best band of all time to never release a full length album). When other power-pop heroes of the ’70s stopped writing catchy, upbeat tunes and started writing sad ballads (*cough* Eric Carmen *cough*), these guys picked up the slack and released one of the most influential EPs of the decade. How influential, you ask? You know how there has been a huge punk and power-pop resurgence happening around the world for the past 10 years or so? Well, none of those bands would exist without the four songs from that EP. After the break up of the Nerves, Paul and Peter went their separate ways and continued writing songs that get stuck in people’s heads for the past 35 years.
1. The Nerves “Hangin on the Telephone” from The Nerves (1976) – Alright, so neither Paul Collins nor Peter Case wrote this song, but Jack Lee isn’t coming on this tour. They will play this song, though. “Oh, I know this! It’s my favorite Blondie song.”
2. The Nerves “When You Find Out” from The Nerves (1976) – The best song Peter Case has ever written. It’s mind-boggling that this wasn’t a hit.
3. The Nerves “Walking Out On Love”‘ from One Way Ticket (2009) – Paul Collins did this song better on his self-titled album, but this is a Nerves playlist. Dozens of bands have covered this song. Check out the Exploding Hearts version.
4. The Nerves “Many Roads to Follow” from One Way Ticket (2009) – Re-recorded for Paul Collins’ 2010 “King of Power Pop Album.” The Nerves version is more charming and lo-fi.
5. The Breakaways “Everyday Things” from Walking Out On Love: The Lost Sessions (2009) – I don’t even know if the Breakaways were a real band or if it was just The Nerves. Paul Collins recently found a demo tape he and Peter Case recorded after the Nerves split up and released it as The Breakaways. This is the only version of this song I’ve heard, so I assume it’s a forgotten gem.
6. The Plimsouls – “Million Miles Away” from Everywhere at Once (1983) – You know that scene in Valley Girl where Nick Cage goes to a party in the valley full of high-class teens and he takes super popular valley girl, Julie, to a dank Hollywood bar to see what “real life is all about, man?” Well this is, like, totally the band and song that is playing at the bar.
7. The Plimsouls “Everywhere at Once” from Everywhere at Once (1983) – I couldn’t just put one Plimsouls song on this list, so here’s my second favorite song of theirs.
8. The Beat “Rock and Roll Girl” from The Beat (1979) – This is the opening track to the Paul Collins Beat’s brilliant debut album. This song uses 3 chords in one of the most interesting ways imaginable. Seriously. It’s just G, C and D.
9. The Beat “I Don’t Fit In” from The Beat (1979) – Not my favorite song. But if you’re aware of this song, it will make the “I Don’t Fit In” shirts seem a little less Hot Topic-y when you’re at the merch booth.
10. The Beat “You Won’t Be Happy” from The Beat (1979) – Someone pissed Paul Collins off at some point. Here’s another song with a middle finger vibe.
11. The Beat “That’s What Life Is All About” from The Kids Are the Same (1981) – This is the opening track to a VERY overlooked album. I’m a gigantic fanboy and even I overlooked this album for a few years. So just stop it and listen to this album. It’s great.
12. The Beat “The Kids Are the Same” from The Kids Are the Same (1981) – The title track from The Beat’s second album. A nice head-bopping singalong. This song would be great for one of those montages in a movie where someone is trying on a bunch of clothes and their friend is all, “Boo, thumbs down. I don’t like it.” But then, the person puts a leather jacket on and their friend gives them a big smile and thumbs up and then they go to a party and it’s awesome.
13. The Beat “Doin’ It for the Ladies” from King Of Power Pop! (2010) – “Hey Paul. Why are you in a band?”
14. The Beat “Hurting’s On My Side” from King Of Power Pop! (2010) – A sad, yet upbeat, song that shows Paul Collins using his aging voice to perfection.
Paul Collins and Peter Case play songs of the Nerves, Plimsouls, The Beat and more TONIGHT at Amsterdam Bar and Hall in St. Paul. Doors are at 8 pm.
Writer / photographer / Reviler co-founder