Ken Sharp

1301 Highland Avenue

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If you've followed Ken Sharp's career as a journalist, you realize not only is he the premier power pop chronicler, but that he has immaculate taste in pop. So, it should come as little surprise that, as a musician, songwriter, and record-maker, he follows the path that his favorite subjects -- from, of course, the Beatles to the Raspberries, the Knack, and Cheap Trick -- have laid down on his first album, 1301 Highland Avenue. That may not be a shocker, but what's a pleasant surprise is that Sharp has learned a great deal from his subjects, turning in a light, effervescent album filled with jingly, jangly, appealing hooks. These are hooks that are evident as much in the singalong choruses as in the ringing guitars, and there's a sense of joy in the composing and record-making that carries through the record, whether it's in the Motown bounce of "Underground" or the surging acoustics and heart-tugging melody of "Beating Heart." If you've listened to a lot of pop or loved the same records that Sharp did, there's not much new here, but it's all done well, with a lot of conviction, which means 1301 Highland Avenue shines brightly among the pop underground records of the '90s -- which is only appropriate for one of the genre's father figures.

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