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2023/4 Albums Thing 320 - The Smithereens “Especially For You”

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I first saw The Smithereens on Channel 4’s (at the time) unmissable Friday evening music show The Tube. I’m pretty sure the first song I heard them play was “Behind The Wall Of Sleep” (and thanx to the wonders of YouTube I’ve just discovered it was January 30th 1987 and the first thing I heard was “Blood And Roses”, f*ck you memory!). Bass player Mike Mesaros looked like Dee Dee Ramone. He and the other 2 guys up front (singer Pat DiNizio and guitarist Jim Babjak) all played Rickenbacker guitars (a 4001, a 325 and a 330 respectively) all in black. Drummer Dennis Diken looked like he didn’t belong with the other three. They blew me away. I almost immediately phoned the guitarist in my then band, The Libertines, to make sure that, if he hadn’t seen it he needed to turn the TV on and catch them when they came back on. It was OK he’d seen it, and it blew him away too.

The Smithereens were from New Jersey and were obviously hugely influenced by the British Invasion Beat Groups of the 1960’s. There are points in this record when you have to ask yourself is this a late 80’s recording or a genuine 60’s one. That question has to be asked right from the off as “Strangers When We Meet” messes with your perception of time. It’s a rollicking good 60’s pop tune in the vein of The Beatles  “I Saw Her Standing There”. “Behind The Wall Of Sleep” begins with the line “She had hair like Jeanie Shrimpton back in 1965” letting you know it’s a 60’s influence and not from the time (the girl in the song is later described thus “Well she played a bass guitar and she was playing in a band, And she stood just like Bill Wyman…”). The album also had a lovely ballad, “In A Lonely Place”, sung together with Suzanne Vega.

Mark and I got quite obsessive about The Smithereens for a while culminating in August 1988 with us getting Mark’s then girlfriend to drive us to London to see them at The Astoria on the tour to support their second album “Green Thoughts” (hopefully coming into a collection near me very soon). It was a bloody fantastic gig too. I have one other of their albums on vinyl, 1994’s “A Date With The Smithereens”, but as that is in the form of a box set of 4x7” singles we won’t cover that here. 

The Smithereens made their final album in 2011, well, their final album with Pat Nizio who sadly passed away in 2017. They were great…

The Smithereens on The Tube 30/1/87 - https://youtu.be/uBKFa3yB8ZY?si=KUxoDULw3pImOHTi

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