Tuesday, February 16, 2010

THE KNACK - Long Island, NY 1981 (R.I.P. Doug Fieger)

It's a shame that the late Doug Fieger and his band The Knack are today remembered, if at all, more for the rock-snob backlash that greeted their instant success than for their music. They've been permanently tagged as one-hit-wonders thanks to the staggering success of their debut single, the legendary you-know-who:

(See? You don't even need to see her name.)

Now, I haven't listened to a note of any of their albums after the debut, Get the Knack, and I'm making no grand claims of eternal genius here. But one listen to that fantastic debut LP tells you this was no one-hit-wonder act. Ignore the infamous Beatle-baiting cover photos and marvel at how it's packed with snappy, witty, tightly played, catchy-as-hell tunes. (I count "Oh Tara" as a particular favorite. I mean, how was that not a #1 single?) The thing just kills from beginning to end, sounding as fresh today as it did to my virgin ears in the summer of '79.

So they didn't become the next Cheap Trick. So sue 'em! Get the Knack remains a flat-out great album; the fact that it portended no further greatness doesn't diminish its own inherent greatness one bit. Maybe poor Mr. Fieger took some comfort in witnessing similarly steep quality/popularity dropoffs suffered in later years by The Strokes, the Hives, the Arctic Monkeys and a thousand other anointed power-pop "saviors."

Anyway, this zippy WLIR-FM soundboard show -- by far the best-quality Knack bootleg -- captures them promoting their third album, by which time the rock press and most listeners had long written them off as has-beens. Listen and judge for yourself. But remember: one listen to rock radio in 2010 should remind you that writing a great power-pop song, not to mention a whole album's worth, is no piece of cake.

Venue unknown - Long Island, NY - December 10, 1981 (FMB)


Jonman said...

Why do you perpetuate the myth of One-Hit Wonderdom? Good Girls Don't was also huge, Baby Talks Dirty from the second album was also a hit(not as well remembered though) and then almost a decade later Rocket Of Love was alaso all over the radio when it initially came out. Don't perpetuate the myth that was due to the public's bad memory. You should look into But The Little Girls Understand, it really is a good album. Their cover of The Kinks Hardway is totally awesome.

Heli0tr0pe said...

Thanks for the comment -- far from perpetuating anything, I was actually trying to undercut The Knack's reputation (and unfair dismissal) as one-hit wonders. It just kind of amazes me that they didn't have at least 5 hit singles off "Get the Knack," given how loaded it is with killer tunes...

At any rate, based on your recommendation, I will check out that second LP!


Anonymous said...

Wow, the preceding is a thoughtful, polite exchange of ideas done without any foul name calling etc. Is this the next evolution of the internet...Is is becoming "self aware"? Are we doomed?


I'll check the 2nd lp too.

Heli0tr0pe said...

Hah! Nice one. Hey, I appreciate anyone who stops by here, hangs out awhile, and takes the time to comment. It's all good!

Now, if you wanna see the only nasty and negative run I've ever gotten, read on...:



Anonymous said...

For some reason, my iTunes crashed twice while trying to add this show. Dang it! I really was looking forward to this one!

Keep up the fantastic work. GAC rocks!

Heli0tr0pe said...

Hmm, that's too bad. Never heard that one before -- maybe it has to do with the MP3 track names...? Only thing I can think to do is just rename all the tracks yourself, then try loading them again...

good ruck!