Rock Rewind Column – The Smithereens

Written by on April 15, 2010 in April 15, 2010, Music Reviews - Comments Off on Rock Rewind Column – The Smithereens

The SmithereensIf you were listening to rock in the early 80’s you are sure to remember the unique New Jersey import known as The Smithereens. Initially they became known for writing and playing what many critics thought was a return to catchy 1960s-influenced power pop. The spotlight grew stronger when The Smithereens’ hit “Blood and Roses was included on the soundtrack for, and as the theme song of the 1986 movie, Dangerously Close, and the video got heavy rotation on MTV. “Blood and Roses” was also featured on the 1980’s TV show Miami Vice during the episode ‘The Savage’ which further exposed the band to a wider audience.

The group, like many, who suddenly get laser tagged by the press spent quite a bit of effort defending their sound. Major publications accused them of sounding too much like The Byrds and the Beatles while also accusing them that vis a vis their Marshall Amplifier heavy live sound was metal. Seems like the band just couldn’t get a break.

Case in point- it has been known they influenced other musicians most notably Kurt Cobain when he was writing “Nevermind” and in an ironic twist of fate, many feel that the advent of grunge actually hurt any further rise from the Smithereens.

As we rewind and look back at “Especially For You”, let’s see how The Smithereens stand up today.

The Smithereens: “Especially For You”

At first listen, “Especially For You” is decidedly different… added to the working class, East Coast, working roots sound is something a bit more esoteric. Granted, there is a bit of a retro feel to songs like “Blood and Roses” and “Behind the Wall of Sleep” but despite lead singer Pat DiNizio’s influences in the world of Holly, The Who, the Clash and Nick Lowe, The Smithereens produce a sound that is all their own.

It’s the perfect combination of some of the best aspects of early Brit pop combined with that edgy garage band sound that is decidedly working class blues and angst. At best DiNizio’s style could be compared to a hungrier and more lovelorn Elvis Costello but what The Smithereens manage to evoke in “Especially For You” is a power pack 12 song disc that explores all the nitty gritty aspects of unrequited love, obsession and pain…the three cornerstones of rock and roll.

The Smithereens’ sound is a unique display of compressed ambience… low to the ground, void of any unnecessary or obligatory jangly guitar leads, and spot on delivery with a no apologies Jersey Shore, alternative rock atmosphere.

4 Stars