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"Paul Collins is a Rock n’ Roll warrior. He has been playing his brand of honest, infectious power pop, new wave, Rock n’ Roll, whatever you want to call it, for almost 40 years. This man, along with his band, is out there, fighting for your soul. Traveling the world many times over and making new music using their blood sweat and tears. Paul isn’t some fat cat making a couple of festival appearances a year waving at his fans like some kind of pathetic mascot, living off his royalties. This man is out fighting a war, dug deep in the jungles of battle, waging combat against all these posturing rock stars. These are the kinds of people that sour so many against guitar rock and driving them to dull, soulless electronic pop music. In fact, if Rock n’ Roll was at proper war and we were all its soldiers, then Paul Collins would be our commanding general!” -- Audio Ammunition
Paul Collins is a formative figure in powerpop, and indeed in rock’n’roll history. He started out in THE NERVES, whose sole release, a 1976 self-titled four-song EP distributed by independent Bomp! Records, is most famous for “Hanging on the Telephone”, which went unnoticed when it was originally released, but turned into a UK top 5 single when covered by Blondie. After The Nerves’ ended, drummer Collins and bassist Peter Case formed The Breakaways with Pat Stengl. The Breakaways swiftly dissolved as well and Case and Collins (now on rhythm guitar) recruited Steve Huff (bass & backing vocals) and Mike Ruiz (drums) into what would later become THE BEAT. Case, however, quit to go solo before eventually forming The Plimsouls. Collins now took lead vocals on all of the songs, with the addition of Larry Whitman (lead guitar & backing vocals), and The Beat were on their way.
The Los Angeles powerpop scene was beginning to garner national attention and Collins signed the band Columbia/CBS and Bill Graham Management. CBS released their self-titled debut in October 1979. All twelve songs were Collins originals with other band members taking co-writing credit each, all on different songs. Continuing in the style of The Nerves, the album consisted of harmony-laden, driving guitar pop songs, including a re-recorded version of Nerves song “Working Too Hard”. The album was critically acclaimed and is today remembered as a classic of the genre. The group appeared on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand and contributed a song to the soundtrack LP of the massively popular movie Caddyshack. Despite this promotion, diligent touring alongside such popular artists as Ian Gomm and The Jam and a tour of Europe, The Beat found limited commercial success.
(The British ska group of the same name were first to establish themselves as “The Beat” in Europe, however, which forced the American “Beat” to be referred to as “Paul Collins Beat” on that continent. The Collins’ “The Beat” was first to release their album in their home territory, though, forcing the British group to use the name “The English Beat” in the USA. In 2015, the two bands toured together as “Two beats, hearting as one”!)
Their second album for CBS, The Kids Are The Same, was released in 1982, with the group billed as “Paul Collins’ Beat” worldwide but fared less well than their debut. Despite being dropped by CBS the group self-financed the production of three videos, including “On The Highway”, which had been modestly promoted to AOR radio by CBS. This video was put on medium rotation for several months by the then fledgling MTV network much to the chagrin of their former label. The MTV exposure kept the group busy to the point of burnout. With line up changes a New York line-up reclaimed the name “The Beat” and released the five-song 12” mini-album To Beat or Not To Beat in 1983. “Dance, Dance” was made into a music video in 1984 and received exposure on MTV. With better sales on its European release Collins relocated, for several years, to promote the release and tour, recording and releasing more records, and gaining a steady following on the continent.
Today, after performing Americana style alt-country music as the Paul Collins Band he’s revived The Paul Collins Beat and performs to fans across Europe, including several visits to the UK, with a live show that is as energetic and enthralling as you might imagine it was back in LA back in the late 1970s/early 80s.
Paul will be performing at the Dirty Water Club on Saturday 13 May, his only UK date during his European tour. Click the ticket link to get advance, discount, no-fee tickets.