For fans of power-pop, Paul Collins is one of the luminaries. Collins began his career playing drums with L.A. power-pop band The Nerves, arguably best remembered for the Jack Lee-penned tune “Hanging On The Telephone,” eventually made famous by Blondie. After a brief stint in The Breakaways with his Nerves bandmate Peter Case, Collins formed The Beat, sometimes referred to as The Paul Collins Beat due to sharing a name with the second-wave English ska band.
Known primarily for its short, hooky songs about girls, the band revamped their sound in 1987 on a record titled One Night, where Collins and the gang traded their Rickenbackers for acoustic guitars with a sound based in roots rock. The album was originally released only in Europe, but thanks to Frodis Records is making its way to America for the first time on both vinyl and CD.
To celebrate the release, The A.V. Club was granted an exclusive stream of the tune “She Says,” which finds the singer-songwriter emulating a bit of classic Buddy Holly-style rockabilly and features all the slap-back echo and harmonies that anyone could ever ask for.
“For artists like myself, every record has its own little world,” Collins tells The A.V. Club about the shift to a twangier style on One Night. “We were touring a lot and living in San Francisco, which probably rubbed off on us a bit.” While having more of a focus on more acoustic instruments—“I love that we used bongos!” says an excitable Collins—One Night Only doesn’t forgo the band’s more rocking side. “Why” is a garage-rock barnburner, and “If I Had You Back” recalls alt-country favorites Jason & The Scorchers and late-era X.
“Roots rock is in our blood,” explains Collins as to why power-pop musicians often eventually make records with one foot in country music. (His former cohort Peter Case has been putting out blues- and Americana-tinged records since 1989.) “I’m sure most of us listened to early country, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, and of course blues artists like Muddy Watters and B.B. King,” he adds.
And while Collins will always be best known for his power-pop tunes like “Walking Out On Love” (which he played with Green Day at the closing night of American Idiot), he can’t explain why the subgenre seems to remain a cult phenomenon. “That is the bane of my life! It does keep me up late at night. Hopefully someday it will click. Until then, I hope we can all keep rocking,” he says.
One Night will be available directly from Frodis Records on November 4, and will be distributed to your local record store by Light in the Attic.