Sunday, February 14, 2010

...they weren't highly regarded, but they had that Big Hit...
- the late '70's, you could hear that riff everywhere. Yep, you guessed it; "My Sharona" by The Knack. Before proceeding, I should mention that I've long championed the cause of respectability-oriented music; I love the classic bands like 'Yes', 'Kansas', 'Deep Purple' and 'Pink Floyd', to name a few. They were incredibly musical. But there's always been a place in my heart for trashy bands that could rock...'Bachman-Turner Overdrive', 'Foghat', 'Kiss' and 'Aerosmith' aren't the most cerebral bands, but in their day they were sure a lot of fun to listen to. (And still are.) The Knack definitely were UNcerebral, and I'm sure a lot of self-respecting record collectors wouldn't admit liking them, let alone actually Buying the group's music, but chances are, at least some of them had a copy of "Get The Knack" hidden away in a closet somewhere, because it rocks All The Way Through. I've heard Big, Dumb and Stupid rock and roll referred to as "butt-rock", and yeah, The Knack would probably fit into that category. I mean, don't tell everyone that I like this music; I've got a reputation to uphold...
The Knack sang about Teenage Lust and emotional angst; indeed a line from "My Sharona" (that big Knack hit) reads, "I always get it up for the touch of the younger kind"; not exactly grammy-award-winning material, and when I first heard "My Sharona" and heard that line, the conservative, rigidly inflexible side of me thot, "That line is Pure CRAP." But the rock and roller in me absolutely loved the way the song sounded; it rocks hard, and contains some absolutely great guitar-work in the edited single version, plus a longer guitar solo on the unedited album version. Love 'em or hate 'em, The Knack could rock out, and the kids loved 'em. Heck, I was 24 when that song came out, and I thought it was GREAT. A true #1 hit all the way. Critic Robert Christgau has said that #1 singles are laws unto themselves; and "My Sharona" rocks so hard, even at the very start of the song, that it just couldn't be ignored.
The Knack were probably their Own Worst Enemies, though. And maybe some of it was the fault of management or, perhaps, the Record Company. Pictured here is that first big Knack album, and it's immediately apparent that the cover resembles that other album we all know and love, "Meet The Beatles". The Knack recorded for Capitol Records, as did The Beatles, whose albums were released on Capitol. "Get The Knack" was issued on Capitol's black-and-rainbow label, a design that was retired in 1970, but brought back for The Knack nine years later.
Also pictured here is the back cover of 'Get The Knack' which looks suspiciously like the Beatles on the set of the film "A Hard Day's Night". Were The Knack daring to compare themselves to The Beatles? This was another reason the Critics detested The Knack. In Spite of all this (or because of it), the record sold in the Millions. Not bad for an album that took only a couple of weeks to make. This record sounds GREAT all the way through. The drum sound here is sweeping and emphatic, the guitars ring out clear as a bell, and there's an Energy on this album that further propels each song. Okay, so the lyrics aren't really all that great, but this album is a Genuine Guilty Pleasure, and I confess...a millisecond after hearing "My Sharona" on the radio, I was Instantly Hooked.
Ah, but the good times for The Knack were not destined to endure. The group was advised by its management Not to give interviews, which further alienated the Press. "Just who do these guys think they are?" a lot of people on the music scene wondered. Two more albums followed "Get The Knack", but the band was never again as popular. But that first's definitely major-league music from a minor-league band. Flash-forward to today; Doug Fieger (FY-ger), the group's leader and main songwriter (second from left on the album cover), passed away today after a 6-year battle with Cancer. But there was a time when his group was first and foremost in the minds of Music Listeners. Famous and Notorious. I'll bet the Rolling Stones were just a little bit jealous...
The disco era ground to a halt in the late '70s and everyone got sick and tired of it; The Knack came along at just the right time. Nothing like having good timing. And a killer riff: Dadda-DUM-Da-Dadda-Dadda-DUM-da...


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