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Titan: It's All Pop!
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  • Lots of serious music fans have gotten the bright idea of starting a record company so they can spread the word about their favorite bands, but unlike most of them, Mark Prellberg and Tom Sorrells actually put their money where their mouths were, and in 1978 they launched Titan Records in their hometown of Kansas City, MO. From a business standpoint, Titan Records proved to be a noble folly; Prellberg and Sorrells knew next to nothing about promotion, distribution, or marketing, and being based in a town that's never been regarded as a major media center did nothing to help their learning curve. And though power pop is a music that attracts a passionate and endlessly loyal fan base, it doesn't often move a whole lot of units, and since straightforward, energetic pop/rock was Titan's stock in trade, Prellberg and Sorrells' lack of know-how became even more of an issue. But let no one say that the guys behind Titan didn't know a great song when they heard it; the label's output sounded like chart-topping hits from an alternate universe where the Raspberries were bigger than the Beatles, Emitt Rhodes ruled the airwaves, and the Scruffs and Dwight Twilley were the hottest new acts on the scene. Titan released just six singles and a compilation LP before Prellberg and Sorrells threw in the towel in 1981, but the label's output has earned mythic status among fans of first generation power pop, and Numero Group has paid loving homage to the label's brief but fascinating history with Titan: It's All Pop!, a two-disc collection that features everything the label ever released in its original incarnation along with over 20 bonus tracks from Titan projects that either went unreleased or surfaced on other labels. If you're looking for a wealth of stylistic diversity, that's not Titan's strong suit, but if you're a fan of bright, uptempo melodies loaded with hooks, buttressed with crunchy guitar figures, and snappy drumming with a layer of vocal harmonies laid over the top, nearly everything here will sound like manna from heaven (with only Bobby Sky disappointing with the silly "Radio City" and "The Water," though "Rock 'n' Roll Song" is OK). The Boys (no relation to the U.K. punk rockers) throw a dash of glam swagger into the formula on "She's Dancing Again," the Secrets reveal a knack for cryptic lyrical sophistication on "Uniform," Gary Charlson balances polish and enthusiasm with commendable skill on "Shark," and Millionaire at Midnight reach out to the arena masses without embarrassing themselves on "Coit Tower." Outside of those shaky Bobby Sky cuts there isn't an obvious dud to be found here, and while some of the tracks are hampered by low budget production, the studio savvy evident on the sizable majority of these selections is impressive so early in the indie label game. Titan: It's All Pop! delivers two hours and twenty minutes of top-notch power pop in the classic style, and it's a grand testimonial not just to the musicians and songwriters featured here but to Mark Prellberg and Tom Sorrells, whose magnificent obsession and ear for deserving talent helped give this music life on wax. ~ Mark Deming
Professional Reviews
Record Collector (magazine) (p.99) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Some of the many highpoints here include Boys' 'Please Change Your Mind,' a deliciously desperate plea drenched in harmonies and fizzy guitars from 1978..."
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