While Bob Segarini has often been called "the Canadian Nick Lowe," in many respects he seems more like the Great White North's answer to Don Dixon. Like Dixon, he has a soul man's voice but also possesses a wicked sense of humor, and though he likes tough, hooky rockin' pop tunes served straight up, the former Wackers man goes for a more elaborate production approach than Lowe, and the eclecticism of his first solo album, Gotta Have Pop! recalls Lowe's superb debut, Pure Pop for Now People (not to mention Dixon's Most of the Girls Like to Dance but Only Some of the Boys Do). Gotta Have Pop! boasts ten great songs ranging from the purposefully smarmy "Don't Believe a Word I Say" and the punky "Dressed in the Dark" to the melodramatic "Hide Away" and the twisted high school lament "Steady Eddie," and at every turn Segarini hits a bullseye as a songwriter and vocalist wherever he aims. Segarini can sound honest and sincere on "I Don't Want to Lose You" and transform himself into the ultimate sleazeball a few moments later on "Don't Believe a Word I Say" with equal skill, and while he gets a polished, widescreen sound out of his band on these sessions, the album is admirably free of clutter, with a limited number of instruments going a long, long way. And perhaps the only Beatles fan to sing about the Fab Four's breakup with the same care and intelligence as Segarini manages on "Love Story" was one Ringo Starr, on his B-side "Early 1970." It's hard to imagine anyone who likes rock & roll not finding something to love on Gotta Have Pop! It's a tribute to the dear old days when hooks ruled the airwaves and evokes a number of lost eras without sinking into nostalgia, sounding as vital as anything recorded last week. This guy is a cult hero because he's smart, funny and talented, but in a better world, his cult wouldn't be the only ones paying attention.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming