Knuke the Knack? No way! Boy, if it isn’t odd how these guys managed to make so many people sick back in 1979. Along with the big “Disco Sucks” massive album destruction, the next most memorable thing had to have been all those people sporting “Knuke the Knack” T-shirts. So I’d just like to say “thank you” to Doug Fieger right now for making people think his lovely band was no good. On the contrary, Get the Knack is one terrific gem of an album that would make any pure pop fan happy.
Sure, the songs were obnoxious and gloriously sexist in a teenage kind of way. Yes! Doug sports a big “I know you wanna kick my ass” grin on the cover of the album. Just look at him there! And yes, it was true that these guys were being hailed as the next Beatles in the press, whatever that meant. I suppose radio had been without pop rocks for a while, so that’s always an easy tag to apply to any group of four guys who write their own tunes and break out with some big hits. Of course, the press also said the same thing about Duran Duran, which was even more mind boggling.
But this stuff was great then and it’s still great now. Actually, my intro to the Knack as a kid was through Alvin and the Chipmunks’ Chipmunk Punk LP. Yeah, the Knack was the farthest thing from punk, but hey, it sure was cool to see Alvin with spiked hair and a giant clothes pin through his shirt looking mean up against a dirty brick wall with the album title spray painted across it. That LP featured “Good Girls Don’t”, “My Sharona”, and “Frustrated”, three tunes I grew to love really fast.
And what about that “Good Girls Don’t”, anyway? When released as a single, the offensive line “An in-between age madness that you know you can’t erase / Till she’s sittin’ on your face” (after which Doug does one of those nudge-nudge wink-wink rock and roll screams the first time around, and then interjects “It hurts!” when the line appears again later) was changed to “Till she’s sittin’ in your place”. Surprisingly, the version on Chipmunk Punk contains the original line. But then, it was hard to tell just what was being said on those records, unless you had a turntable that also played 16 RPM records. Fortunately, I did.
So there’s a hot little number for ya right there. Sleazy good time sex, and Get The Knack was filled to the brim with lots more. Both the classic “My Sharona” (which was fantastic back when they played it at the club I used to frequent in the ‘90s—there was nothing like letting it all go during that amazing guitar solo) and “Frustrated” were as kinky as it got on Top 40 radio back then. And if that wasn’t enough, then perhaps the hyper kink of “(She’s So) Selfish” and the sweet smarm of “That’s What the Little Girls Do” ups the ante by a few more smirks.
Elsewhere, “Let Me Out” sounds like a great song Cheap Trick never recorded, perhaps something that would have fit on an album like Heaven Tonight. “Oh Tara” is a great catchy love song with all the right hooks, and “Maybe Tonight” is so close to being like a Nick Lowe track that it’s almost eerie. Doug’s stupendous vocals carry the tune to a great level, filling it with real emotion and cutting back the smart aleck venom just a little.
“Heartbeat” sports some absolutely fantastic percussion parts and rock solid beats, and “Your Number Or Your Name” pushes the Knack right into the little girls’ faces. Dig it while it’s hot. “Lucinda” is another sweet pop tune like “Oh Tara”, and “Siamese Twins (The Monkey And Me)” is more good natured ribbing. Right? Or were these people who were so vehemently against the Knack taking the lyrics way too seriously? As if in acknowledgement to the listeners who detested their ways, the Knack titled their second album ...But the Little Girls Understand.
As time has rolled on, Get the Knack has proved itself to be a more than worthy album of the late ‘70s. It bounced along nicely with the latest Blondie grooves, Joe Jackson, and Elvis Costello…not to mention the Clash even. Yes, it was a time when the radio was actually daring and all sorts of groups got airplay. And we hated these guys? Not me, man. I even had a mini Get the Knack LP jacket that had a record-shaped piece of gum on the inside. Now how’s that for class? If you dig good pop rock/new wave/bratty snot nosed rock and roll, Get the Knack is just what you need. If not, then go knuke something else as Doug Fieger’s grooves still manage to impress the kids who understand.
// Notes from the Road
"With vibrant performances by artists including St. Vincent and TV on the Radio, the first half of the bi-annual Boston Calling Festival brought additional excitement to Memorial Day weekend.READ the article