United Technique 1972 (Pezband)

Music Sounds

Review

Review (Pure Pop Radio):

An incredible, vivid, quite alive offering of melodic treasures populates this glorious album, without question one of this year’s best releases. Every song is a wonderfully realized pop confection, particularly three that hit the hooky bullseye: “Say the Word,” “She Wants You,” which surreptitiously recalls the famed intro to the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” in the intro, and “Summer Love,” a warm love letter and look back to a seasonal romance (that, perhaps unknowingly, taps the sound of 10cc member Eric Stewart’s guitar playing in the solo). A pure pop masterpiece that will spin in your orbit for years to come.

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Basement Tapes, Vol. 1

Limited-release album of demos, unreleased tracks, covers, and other rarities. Learn more.

Review (Pure Pop Radio):

A month ago today, I reviewed Mimi’s other 2016 release, Music Sounds, which I determined rather early in the listening was a simply wonderful collection of songs. Now, here is another Betinis collection, composed of tracks that he’s been working on over the years that have now been finished and gathered together all shiny and vibrant in one place. The treasures on offer are full of life: the achingly beautiful ballad, “All that Glitters,” picked acoustically with care, topped by tambourine and electric guitar shading, and featuring instruments from Mimi’s extensive collection, which, he says, give the song “an eerie and dark feel”; “Ray of Light,” a melodic sweetness sounding like an Andy Partridge outtake off of XTC’s Nonsuch album, and simply lovely covers (Paul McCartney’s song for Mary Hopkin, “Goodbye,” and the Hudson Brothers’ “So You Are a Star” are glorious). Saying that some heritage artists are only getting better as time passes by can sound like rather an empty assertion, but my, how that phrase does indeed fit snug as a bug here.

Women & Politics (Pezband)

Info

Limited, hand-numbered twelve inch vinyl pressing including digital download. Liner notes featuring photos and interviews with the band on the making of the EP and the latter-day history of Pezband. 1980 was a rough year for Chicago’s Pezband. After three albums and two live EPs, interest from their label vaporized and the group disbanded. Following a year of rest, guitarist Mimi Betinis and drummer Mick Rain were energized and ready to to give the band another shot. Joined by original member John Pazdan, the trio headed to Los Angeles to record at the legendary Record Plant, where high school friend Paul Broucek worked. With Broucek at the helm, Pezband completed Women & Politics, a four-song EP that saw the band sharpening a harder edge without abandoning their power pop roots. Women & Politics was shopped around, but in a post-Knack industry, none of the majors were biting, and the EP was shelved. Frodis Records, in collaboration with Common Market Media, presents the first-ever release of Women & Politics, freshly remastered from the original tapes.

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Dangerous People (Pezband)

Review

Produced by John Pavletic

The Holy Grail for every serious fan of pop music is a “lost album” from one of their favorite bands. These are albums that — for one reason or another — were recorded but never saw the light of day. Lost albums reportedly exist for many well-known bands (The Who, The Beach Boys, Prince, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen) and now fans of the seminal power pop band Pezband can rejoice. While not exactly a lost album in the strict sense, the “new” release from Pezband: DANGEROUS PEOPLE (Air Mail Recordings) is made up of unreleased and demo tracks as well as two live tracks recorded between Pezband’s 1978 release LAUGHING IN THE DARK and their final album COVER TO COVER. But these are not some random collection of leftovers, DANGEROUS PEOPLE is a real album through and through.

Pezband lead singer Mimi Betinis teamed up with original Pezband engineer John Pavletic to lovingly restore and polish these eleven slices of power pop heaven. And Pezband has never sounded better–especially on the first four tracks which sound like fully-produced album cuts — recorded yesterday. The guitars crunch and the harmonies soar on the lead-off track “Back Within the Arms I Love.” Other standout tracks include the rave-up “Anything for Fun” which showcases Betinis and bassist Mike Gorman trading off lead vocals on the verse and Mick Rain’s confident drumming putting the POW in power pop. Gorman also shines on the next track, “She’s All Right” which kicks off like a meaty hybrid of the Cars meets Elvis Costello (with Scott May on synth). The rest of the album demonstrates Pezband in its full stride, rising above typical three chord “boy meets girl” pop by exploring different themes and textures, most notably in tracks like “Death is a Lover,” “Eastern Woman,” and the title track. But perhaps the most intriguing song on the album is the deliciously melodic “I Can Only Say Yes.” Much like John Lennon reversed the chords to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata to come up with “Because,” Betinis and Gorman reversed one of Pezband’s first hit singles “Baby It’s Cold Outside” to craft “I Can Only Say Yes.” And it works spectacularly! The two live tracks (“Black Magic” from LAUGHING IN THE DARK and the rare 45-only release “I’m Leavin'”) are great reminders of how tight a band Pezband was back in the 70s. The good news is that you don’t need a time machine to hear the band play live in 2013. Betinis, Rain, and bassist John Pazdan continue to tour in the Chicago area and (most recently) in Japan, where Pezband still has a fervent following.

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All That Glitters

Reviews

It’s tempting to think of ALL THAT GLITTERS as a long-lost 4th Pezband album… Pezband’s RUBBER SOUL or REVOLVER — thirty years in the making. After all, ALL THAT GLITTERS boasts rich, multi-layered production, inventive songwriting, and the iconic vocals of Pezband’s lead singer Mimi Betinis. But while the poppy “Love Is Just a Thin Veneer,” (the first track of ALL THAT GLITTERS) may harken back to the skinny tie era — with its twangy guitars and soaring background vocals, by the time you hit the chorus (arranged with cello and violin), you quickly realize that it’s not 1979 anymore and this is not a Pezband record. Which is just fine. In fact, better than fine. What emerges over the course of the next 10 tracks is an artfully-crafted collage of song textures and styles that fit together masterfully — not unlike the album’s cover art (also created by Betinis).
Standout tracks include “Come on Down to My House” (co-written with Pezband drummer Mick Rain) with its wicked swampy guitar licks and an energetic rhythm section featuring Chris Massa (Bass) and Carlo Iaccino (Drums), “Blue Sky” with its refreshingly bare vocals and impossibly hooky melody — complimented by ska horns by Chuck Soumar and Dave Stalhberg (The Ides of March), and the haunting “Say the Word” featuring acapella vocals with Carla Hassett.

Back in the Pezband era, Betinis was painted as sort of a windy-city Paul McCartney. And it’s true that his voice shares the same tone as Macca — as well as the ability to switch from crooning ballads to raucous rock (as evidenced by Pezband’s seminal live performance of “Hippy Hippy Shake” from their TWO OLD TWO SOON – LIVE AT DINGWALLS EP). But on ALL THAT GLITTERS we’re treated to another side of Betinis’ voice — somewhere between John Lennon and Ron Nasty. For proof, check out the hidden gem of the album: a lovingly-crafted symphonic cover of “Across the Universe” — one of the few Beatles covers that actually surpasses the original.

ALL THAT GLITTERS is great news for Pezband fans, classic rock fans, or anybody who enjoys hand-made music overflowing with melody and texture. But the best news is that Betinis may be making up for lost time. Rumor has it that there is a second album in the works for release next year. Keep ’em coming!

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Cover to Cover (Pezband)

Produced by John Pavletic

Review (AllMusic)

Why this wasn’t a hit is a mystery, because the band sure has a knack for a great pop melody. “Stella Blue” rocks, and “Didn’t We” proves that this band can write a great ballad to boot. Cover to Cover has to be heard to be believed, and once you hear it, you’ll be glad you did.

Thirty Seconds Over Schaumburg (Pezband)

Produced by John Pavletic

Review (AllMusic)

The music is loud, ferocious, and wonderful. Tommy Gawenda is a little out of control here (too many multi-chorus solos), but after all is said and done, this record proves what a great live band the Pezband was. Extra points for a rippin’ version of Jeff Beck’s “Blue Wind” and its neat segue into the Yardbirds’ “Stroll On.” –John Dougan

Two Old, Two Soon (Pezband)

Review (AllMusic)

A great four-track live EP recorded at the much-missed club Dingwalls in London. Side one features rough and ready versions of “Stop! Wait A Minute” and “Lovesmith”; side two features a manic “Not Fade Away” and a thoroughly great romp through the Swinging Blue Jeans’ “Hippy Hippy Shake.” Power pop with the accent on power. –John Dougan

Laughing in the Dark (Pezband)

Review (AllMusic)

Laughing in the Dark marked something close the peak of Pezband’s career as a recording act… The 2005 CD reissue from Japan not only offers the best sounding edition of this album that you’re ever likely to hear — but augments it with six bonus live tracks off of their live EP Thirty Seconds over Schaumburg. The opening Jeff Beck/Yardbirds homage, of “Blue Wind,” “Stroll On,” and “I’m Not Talking,” slots in perfectly with the contents of the studio originals and is practically worth the price of admission by itself (as though the LP’s side one trilogy of “Love Goes Underground,” “I’m Leavin’,” and “Stop! Wait a Minute” isn’t….)

Pezband (First Album)

Reviews

Review (AllMusic)

Arriving at the height of the power-pop era, Pezband’s debut is full of Beatlesque melodies filtered down through good ol’ American rock & roll. While often mining in the same area as the Raspberries before them, Pezband manages to add a breath of fresh air to these twelve great cuts. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is pure pop paradise, while “Hold On” is a ballad which will recall the best moments of Badfinger. Influences abound, but the end result always comes out Pezband. One of the best pop albums from a time when they were plentiful.

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