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]