Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Knack - Get the Knack

Today (June 11th) marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of Get the Knack, the 1979 debut album from the Knack. The album spent forty weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, including five weeks at the number 1 spot. It also went to number 65 in the UK, number 1 in Australia, and number 1 (for six weeks) in Canada.

The roster of the band included Doug Fieger (guitar and lead vocals), Berton Averre (guitar), Bruce Gary (drums) and Prescott Niles (bass).

Side one opens with "Let Me Out", the B-side to the first single. The song about teenaged rebellion has a break-neck rhythm which instantly reminds me of Cheap Trick.

Backed by a solid beat, "Your Number or Your Name" captures that feeling of fascination where you just have to know something about that stranger who has caught your eye.

"Oh Tara" is the first of a number of odes to named girls on this record. It tells of a guy who has feelings for a girl who apparently just sees him as a friend.

The teasing "(She's So) Selfish" is next. The guitar riff has a Bo Diddley vibe going on, while the lyrics get down and dirty towards the end.

The gentle "Maybe Tonight" utilizes a skipping-effect that reminds me of "A Day in the Life" by the Beatles.

"Good Girls Don't", the second single, went to number 66 in the UK, number 20 in New Zealand, number 11 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 in Canada. I have always loved the energy of this song, and lyrically it struck a chord in my then-fourteen year old hormonal psyche back when I would hear it on the radio.

Side two starts with "My Sharona". As the first single, it went to number 14 in Ireland, number 13 in Austria and the Netherlands, number 12 in Belgium and Germany, number 7 in Switzerland, number 6 in the UK, number 3 in New Zealand, and number 1 in Australia (for five weeks), Canada (for three weeks), Italy, and on the US Billboard Hot 100 (for six weeks). The lyrics were inspired by Fieger's one-time girlfriend Sharona Alperin. The song has a fantastic beat to it; I remember dancing around my bedroom as a teenager to the forty-five. Even four years later, when I was in college, it was still popular at parties. Today, I will drum on the steering wheel if it comes on the radio while I am driving.

"Heartbeat" is a cool cover of a 1958 hit recorded by Buddy Holly.

Next up is "Siamese Twins (The Monkey and Me)".

"Lucinda" has a slinky, sultry rhythm to it.

"That's What the Little Girls Do" also has a throw-back sound to it, even compared to what else was on the charts in 1979.

"Frustrated", the B-side to the second single, was also inspired by Fieger's pre-dating fascination with Alperin.

I am pretty certain my older brother had a copy of Get the Knack on vinyl back in 1979; if so, I know I heard this album completely back in the day. But, it has easily been over thirty years since I heard most of these songs (outside of the hit singles which I, of course, have on my iPod).

I really liked this debut a lot. The Knack had a great sense of what made solid pop-rock songs, from the instrumental hooks to the vocal harmonies. No wonder it held the record for the fastest selling debut album (it had sold a million copies in its first two weeks in 1979). Needless to say, by the time you all read this I will have got the Knack!


Mark said...

Fantastic power pop that may have been the first mainstream New Wave hit. They had me from the get-go. Here's my take on the album:

The Knack - Get The Knack (1979)

HERC said...

My my my i yi woo

Mistakingly notorious as "the song that killed disco", "My Sharona" was a blast of pure energy which shook up the charts something fierce. I bought the album in College Station, Texas that Summer. Secretly, "Good Girls Don't" was my favorite song on the album (as a 13 year old boy) so it was cool when it was released as the second single though the radio version changed the lyrics.

I wouldn't be surprised if "My Sharona" shows up as one of my 100 Songs Of Summer.