Power pop’s enduring power

Cheap Trick usually is mentioned first when the phrase “Midwestern power pop” is thrown around. And rightly so.

Tonight, though, we have a somewhat more obscure, but no less tasty sampling of Midwestern power pop for you.

The Elvis Brothers — Rob, Graham and Brad — came out of Champaign, Ill., in 1981. They made a name for themselves in the early ’80s on the Midwest college and club circuit, playing early Elvis covers and their own songs.

With Rob on lead guitar and vocals, Graham on bass and vocals and Brad on the stand-up drum kit, the lads put on legendarily good-natured and energetic shows. Those shows deftly mixed original, Beatlesque pop and early Elvis-era rockabilly.

Graham Elvis offers some entertaining stories from their touring days in the notes about “Analog 88,” his 2006 solo release.

One remarkable show — an opening set for the Clash at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago during the Combat Rock tour — drew the attention of Cheap Trick manager Ken Adamany. So, of course, the Elvis Brothers started touring in support of Cheap Trick. Adamany also helped get them a record deal with CBS’ Portrait label.

In 1983, they debuted with “Movin’ Up.” Side 1, which we have for you tonight, is as bright, as energetic, as charming, as good as power pop got in the early ’80s. It received good reviews, radio airplay and some MTV exposure.

The Elvis Brothers did those two albums on Portrait — the other was “Adventure Time” in 1985 — and then an indie release, “Now Dig This,” in 1992. That was it.

I have only the debut album, but it’s a good memory from that time. I played it often. Give it a spin, and maybe you’ll dig it, too.

elvisbrosmovinuplp.jpg

“(I Know You) Shake It,” “It’s So Hard,” “Hidden in a Heartbeat,” “Hey Tina,” “Red Dress” and “Fire in the City,” the Elvis Brothers, from “Movin’ Up,” 1983. It runs 18:26.

“Movin’ Up” is out of print. Both of the Portrait albums were released on one CD in 1995, but that also is out of print. Six of the 12 cuts on “Movin’ Up” are available on “The Graham Elvis Brothers,” a 2007 release.

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2 Comments on “Power pop’s enduring power”

  1. Willie Says:

    I saw these guys open for INXS at the Dane County Coliseum in Madison in the mid-80s. Their staying power was limited, but their sound was okay.

  2. Lisa Says:

    WOW! I was delighted to find this. I cannot count the number of times I saw the Elvis Brothers in Columbia, Mo. at the Blue Note. One memorable night included dancing on the stage. — in a red dress. As I listen to this album side, I am transported back to gleeful nights dancing myself into a sweaty, exhausted heap with my best friends. I’m going to have to go back and dig out my vinyl now. I have to hear “Akiko Shinoda,” “Burning Desire,” and others. Thank you so much for reminding me!


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