Various Artists

Pop Under the Surface, Vol. 1

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Sweden's Pop Under the Surface compilations weren't the first '90s-era various-artist pop group/artist collections: Big Deal's Yellow Pills series, Bam Balam Records' Explosion: USA Power Pop series, and To M'Lou Music's Unsound, Vol. 1: Pop! series each preceded this series by at least a few years. The Pop Under the Surface comps were, however, one of the better collections of three-minute pop songs, each having their own identity but brought together by their love of ringing Rickenbacker guitars and swooning harmonies. In 1997, Stefan Johansson (of Sweden's Yesterday Girl Records) and Greg Colburn began compiling the series, highlighting 25 groups from around the world -- but mostly from the United States -- who were truly "under the surface," having experienced fervent word-of-mouth praise but flagging or fair-to-middling sales or little or no radio support at the time. Volume one's standout tracks include Martin Luther Lennon's "Kill Kill Kill," the Grip Weeds' "Tomorrow," Jack & the Beanstalks' "I Don't Know" (from Perth, Australia), the Sun Sawed in 1/2's "Devil Fish," Bill Retoff's "Bouquet of Dandelions," the Beatifics' "Happy to Be Sad," Jim Basnight's "Summertime Again," Martin Dibbs' "Same Old Story," the Shambles' "Child's Play," the Beat Angels' "The Most Beautiful Loser in Town," and the Richards' "Five Personalities." There are also tracks by L.A.'s Jigsaw Seen (their original version of "Persephone Again" appears here) and three Atlanta, GA-area bands: the Hippycrickets, LMNOP, and the Lizardmen. Many of these tracks where then (and some remain) unavailable elsewhere. Pop Under the Surface, Vol. 1 comes with a 28-page booklet with information on all the artists, their discographies, and contact addresses.

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