It’s hard to say exactly where it started, but The Beatles and The Byrds often get the most credit for starting the enduring subgenre that’s come to be known as jangle pop. Of course, The Searchers and even The Everly Brothers were laying the foundations before them.
Admittedly, there’s a lot of crossover on this comprehensive anthology I’ve compiled (with the help of a few friends and veteran rock writers): folk rock, power-pop, New Wave, post-punk, psychedelia and lo-fi are just a few of the genres that intersect with jangle pop. But there’s one undeniable thing really defines the sound; one thing that all these bands share, even the most disparate ones on the list—the presence of a chiming, ringing, treble-tone guitar, especially (though not limited to) a Rickenbacker 12-string.
The term itself comes both from The Byrds’ cover of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” (“in the jingle-jangle morning”) and also from the shrill (jangly) sound of the guitars.
Though jangle pop has had some classic periods over the years (the mid ’60s and early ’80s in particular), as you can see from this list, it’s pretty much been weaving its way through the music universe since it surfaced, whether front-and-center in the mainstream, or tucked off in the furthest, most-obscure reaches of the indie-rock universe. And judging from the recent entries, it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
(p.s. If any of reissue labels out there can successfully assemble this as a box set, I’ll give you my firstborn child—and I’ll write the liner notes for free.)
1. The Everly Brothers – Dream (All I Have to Do) (1958)
2. The Searchers – Needles and Pins (1964)
3. The Beatles – What You’re Doing (1964)
4. The Who – The Kids Are Alright (1965)
5. The Nightcrawlers – The Little Black Egg (1965)
6. The Byrds – Mr. Tambourine Man (1965)
7. Simon & Garfunkel – I Am a Rock (1966)
8. The Velvet Underground – There She Goes Again (1967)
9. The Raspberries – I Wanna Be With You (1972)
10. Big Star – September Gurls (1974)
11. Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Don’t Cry No Tears (1975)
12. The Nerves (featuring a young, pre-Plimsouls Peter Case) – When You Find Out (1976)
13. Tom Petty – American Girl (1976)
14. The Ramones – Questioningly (1978)
15. The Records – Starry Eyes (1978)
16. Luxury – Green Hearts (1979)
17. Shoes – Too Late (1979)
18. Pylon – Stop It (1980)
19. The Tourists (feat. Annie Lennox & Dave Stewart, pre-Eurythmics) – So Good to Be Back Home Again (1980)
20. Squeeze – Pulling Mussels (from the Shell) (1980)
21. The DB’s (feat. Chris Stamey & Peter Holsapple) – Black and White (1981)
22. R.E.M. – Sitting Still (1983)
23. Let’s Active (feat. Mitch Easter) – Every Word Means No (1983)
24. The Smiths – This Charming Man (1983)
25. The Plimsouls (feat. Peter Case) – A Million Miles Away (1983)