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This was ripped by and originally uploaded to digivinyltal.blogspot.com. I highly recommend that blog, dude makes great rips of power pop vinyl! -Ian!

For reasons that remain mysterious, power-pop remains a cult movement in spite of its overt accessibility. Any number of “lost classics” from the genre sound like they should be just plain classics, and the fact that they’ re not frustrates the musicians who made them as well as the lesser souls who simply want to be able to find them at their local record store. And tough as it is to find the great power-poppers of the ‘70s like Dwight Twilley and Shoes, it can become downright quixotic when the search turns to ‘80s heroes. Luckily, the Let’s Active catalogue has finally come back into print on CD, but the Plimsouls’ first record, the last two dB’s albums, and anything Game Theory ever did seem stuck forever in the gilded cage of eBay with scores of others teetering on the edge of oblivion.

Those watching the wires for the reissues of artifacts of power-pop’s glorious early ‘80s revival may have to keep waiting for any of the aforementioned platters to return to the world, but at least one more obscure disc has come back from the void. Action Now, a California quartet who did their best to bring melody and energy back to rock, have now had their sole LP, All Your Dreams, released with a plethora of live tracks as All Your Dreams.And More: 1981-1984. The group was, in most respects, like any other power-pop band of the time—obsessed with record collecting and dedicated to stringing together as many three-minute, three-chord nuggets as they had in them. To the degree that Action Now was separated from the pack, they were distinct thanks to the drive of one Paula Pierce, a former accordion whiz who started a band back in her early teens that morphed through countless lineups and names to wind up as Action Now. Along the way, Pierce had a remarkable habit of getting impregnated by passing cult rock heroes like Rat Scabies, but thanks to a few abortions and the eventual deployment of birth control, she was able to keep her rock dreams from being derailed.

After Action Now bit the dust, Pierce went on to form a somewhat more successful group in the Pandoras and also went on to die young, so this release is tinged with the historical interest of a prelude as well as a memorial to a talent passed before its time. As such, it’s a lot more life-affirming than anything Pierce did with the Pandoras and has some moments of real joy in it, not the least of which is Pierce’s lone lead vocal on the live track, “Anyone But You”. Taken as an ultra-rare document of a beloved time in music history, it’s a great peek into what it meant to be striving in an exciting scene. Pierce, along with Jim Schuster, Mike Lawrence, and Scott Hillman may sound rudimentary, but they were tight and smart, playing with plenty of passion and dexterity. They were underdogs in an underdog movement, a position almost anyone who’s ever played in a band can relate to.

The dual temptations of something like All Your Dreams.And More is to overrate it based on Pierce’s death and its obscurity. What greater joy is there for the rock critic than to unearth some piece of lost pop bliss that not even fellow snobs know about? None that I know of, but I still feel an honest appraisal would note that Action Now rarely exceed mere pleasantness. They are solid and have a good grasp of the fundamentals of power-pop, but not much on the album sticks in your head. They aren’t experimental enough to distinguish themselves, nor do they have the supernatural gift for melody or harmony that makes bands like Fountains of Wayne or the Raspberries succeed in spite of their familiar format. That won’t stop the usual suspects from revering Action Now above such blasé legends as Big Star, but the rest of the world should be able to spot Pierce’s group as a likeable bunch of also-rans who wrote tunes better than most and then disappeared like all the rest.

-Brian James, popmatters.com

DOWNLOAD:
Action Now-ALL YOUR DREAMS… AND MORE (1984)

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