22 Songs, 1 Hour 10 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Chicago’s Material Issue, led by singer-guitarist Jim Ellison, performed joyful ‘60s-inspired pop music that was never about an “Overthrow” but a continuation of a fine pop music tradition. Ellison, sadly, committed suicide before the ‘90s were out. But his classic debut album, with bassist Ted Ansani and drummer Mike Zelenko, is a classic that is finally back in print. The sheer simplicity of the joy behind the sound of “Diane,” the simple rock ‘n’ roll lesson of “Renee Remains The Same” and the forward motion of “Li’l Christine,” where the group sounds like an urgent Marshall Crenshaw,  are the pillars of this sublime album. There are plenty of pop confections worth hearing. “This Far Before,” “Very First Lie,” “Out Right Now” and “Valerie Loves Me” are hit singles that never were. Likely had they been originally released in 1966 and not 1991 they would’ve found a home on AM radio. The band may have been, arguably, out of time, but the songs were really timeless. The 20th Anniversary Edition includes eight bonus cuts. Covers of Thin Lizzy’s “Cowboy,” Sweet’s “Blockbuster” and Paul Simon’s “The Boxer” are great fun.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Chicago’s Material Issue, led by singer-guitarist Jim Ellison, performed joyful ‘60s-inspired pop music that was never about an “Overthrow” but a continuation of a fine pop music tradition. Ellison, sadly, committed suicide before the ‘90s were out. But his classic debut album, with bassist Ted Ansani and drummer Mike Zelenko, is a classic that is finally back in print. The sheer simplicity of the joy behind the sound of “Diane,” the simple rock ‘n’ roll lesson of “Renee Remains The Same” and the forward motion of “Li’l Christine,” where the group sounds like an urgent Marshall Crenshaw,  are the pillars of this sublime album. There are plenty of pop confections worth hearing. “This Far Before,” “Very First Lie,” “Out Right Now” and “Valerie Loves Me” are hit singles that never were. Likely had they been originally released in 1966 and not 1991 they would’ve found a home on AM radio. The band may have been, arguably, out of time, but the songs were really timeless. The 20th Anniversary Edition includes eight bonus cuts. Covers of Thin Lizzy’s “Cowboy,” Sweet’s “Blockbuster” and Paul Simon’s “The Boxer” are great fun.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.9 out of 5
10 Ratings
10 Ratings
hyperbolium ,

Expanded reissue of a power-pop classic

In celebration of International Pop Overthrow’s twentieth anniversary, and in memory of the group’s late leader Jim Ellison, Hip-O select has issued this greatly expanded version of Material Issue’s first full length release. By the time the record dropped in 1991, Material Issue had been together nearly six years, had issued an EP and a few singles, and had toured extensively throughout their native Midwest. The album itself was recorded in Zion, Illinois, the home of another great power-pop band, Shoes, and produced by Shoes’ Jeff Murphy. IPO fit well in a year that was dotted with key power-pop albums from Matthew Sweet (Girlfriend), Teenage Fanclub (Bandwagonesque), Velvet Crush (In the Presence of Greatness), Adam Schmitt (World So Bright) and Richard X. Heyman (Hey Man!).

The album sold nationwide, launching a video for “Diane” on MTV’s 120 Minutes and pushing “Valerie Loves Me” into the top ten of Billboard’s modern rock chart. The group completed two more albums and toured heavily, but never recaptured either the bittersweet poignancy of IPO, or its commercial success. Ellison committed suicide in 1996 amid rumors of romantic and artistic disillusion, but he left behind an album that captures the very core of power pop: melodies whose hooks resound with the craft of the Brill Building and lyrics whose heart-on-sleeve emotion drew a map of joy, heartbreak, anticipation, angst, satisfaction and disappointment.

The anniversary edition of IPO adds eight bonus tracks, six drawn from the pre-LP promo-only Eleven Supersonic Hit Explosions, one (the thundering “Sixteen Tambourines”) taken from a College Music Journal sampler album, and the previously unreleased “The Girl with the Saddest Eyes” to close out the set. Among the bonuses are three covers: an emotional rendering of Thin Lizzy’s “Cowboy,” a glitzy version of Sweet’s “Blockbuster,” and a brash live take on Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer.” IPO is an essential element of a complete power-pop collection, and this expanded reissue is a great upgrade for fans that haven’t previously picked up the bonus tracks. [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Roisafan ,

Roseann R

So glad I rediscovered this album!

Migallo0718 ,

Power Pop at its Finest

This album is a classic, and it is just such a shame that Jim Ellison was so hell bent on being a rockstar, as being okay with being a rocker as Everyman would have kept the music coming. Of course, "Valerie Loves Me" is the song that comes to mind when thinking of this album, but "Out right now" has always been my favorite.

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