on December 10, 2004
I've never seen a group more committed to putting consistently good power pop out there- or an even more commited 'select few', who constantly try to squash them. It's refreshing to see the support in the reviews by 'the people', and I personally want to take aim at the 'historian wannabe's'.
First- not opinion but 'fact'. The Knack attack was never corporate induced. The songs on Get the Knack were rejected by virtually every major label when Fieger and Averre circulated demos. What the band did then is the stuff of legends. They went to the streets- did a blitz of the LA clubs, played 'their songs', drew crowds that were huge and surprise guest jam sessions on stage by notables like Springsteen, Tom Petty, Eddie Money and Stephen Stills. To boot, one of their family members put up their own house so that Get The Knack could be recorded (at a mere $18,000). The same record companies came back crawling and the first lp with Sharona and Good Girls Don't exploded.
The backlash was really based on 3 things.
First, they loved the Beatles. The rock press and Beatles fandom, I personally think, massively misjudged their presentation and immediate success as ' we'll recreate and be them '. I love the Beatles. I don't think the Beatles and what they have left, has ever or will ever be threatened. I think, being fans of others work teaches, if you're listening. The Beatles studied Presley, the Everleys, Holly, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. If the 'historical wannabe's' had been around in their day, we would never have gotten Sgt Pepper, the White lp, Let it Be or Abbey Road from them. They would have been shot down and shovelled into a grave the way the Knack (and several notable others have been). I'm personally offened by it as both a lover of music and artistry, and as someone who has good ears and is sick to death of 'over analysis and distorting the facts'.
The second reason for the backlash was poor advice from their management about not speaking to the press. They were number one worldwide and they didn't talk, and the press will kill for this. Fieger, at the time, said something massively profound to me and it still rings true. He personally called the Rolling Stone to say, " we really just want the music to speak for itself right now. We're new- what the hell do we or should we have to say. We will as we acquire more life experience but, for now, the thing I loved when I was a fan was the music. Let it speak. "
The final point was even more telling. The debut lp was made for $18,000. This was a time in history where groups and solos were spending anywhere from $250,000 to a million + ( Fleetwood Mac's Tusk comes to mind on that one). When the major labels watched this record sky rocket into the 5 million sales mark, they started to put pressure on other artists about fiscal responsibility. The Knack had nothing to do with that. Still... they payed the price.
Round Trip, for me, was an introduction to the real growth of this band. The first two lps were power pop punch (and great rocking work, to boot. Both of them, by the way. The second one is massively overlooked and almost as much a pleaser as the first.)Round trip was expanding their songwriting, their lyrical content and their musicianship. Listen to the growth with 'Africa, Sweet Dreams, Radiating Love and Little Cal's Big Mistake'. Gary's drumming, Averre's lead work and the Chicago and Tower of Power horn sections helping out. The band was expanding and showing some great style but (the backlashers, as I've always called them, dug heels and some of them unfortuantely had magazines and television stations to vent their nonsense' They had their forum and they drooled their contempt. They shaped an opinion that was spiteful rather than constructive. In the end, they really just spoke of how little they really seem to know. Unfortunately... this band has suffered some consequences over it.
I'm personally tired of it- hence this review.
The Knack have followed, over the past several years, with Serious Fun, Zoom and Normal As The Next Guy. These cds have remained solid with some suprisingly good work (I personally think the backlash crap tripped them after Round Trip and we'll never know what they could have done). Still... this is work that is good and should be heard.
Last point- for those who try to intellectualize a 3 to 5 minute song... 'get a life'.
Music is meant to be felt. You feel it or you don't. You have your right to your opinion... but you don't have a right to warp the facts and truths of an artist. They were Beatles fans. They signed with Capital. They loved the old 45 label and requested it (once again- because they're fans!) They recorded a great lp- who cares what it cost? Most important, they went to the streets to make that happen. Funny thing... the Beatles did that, too. Didn't any of you history buffs read about the Decca turndown or Hamburg? Getting out of leather jackets and into the suits? What do you think they were doing? They were learning their chops and reaching to the people.
Don't fault The Knack for doing the same.
Obviously, from a good deal of what the 'people' have been saying in these reviews, a good songs still saves the day. Nothing more and nothing less.
Signed- send the Knuke the Knack Attackers Packing.