The Knack: Get the Knack

Jason Thompson

The Knack

Get the Knack

Label: Capitol
US Release Date: 2007-02-27

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.


The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.