|The Knack are most famous for their 1979 hit My Sharona. For those of you too young to remember (and those too old to care) My Sharona was one of the most bouncy pieces of musical bubblegum to ever hit the air waves. The rest of the album was filled with brilliant pop song, good harmonies and tight arrangements. That first release, called Get The Knack, propelled the band to almost instant stardom, followed by a “Nuke the Knack” backlash which seemed to catch the band off guard.
They played it safe on their second release, But The Little Girls Understand which was mostly a rehash of what they did on the first album. Listening to the album, you can almost hear the record exec’s saying “Yeah! gimme more of that ‘My Sharona’ thing.” As it turns out this was a disaster. Little Girls was chock full of bouncy pop to be sure, but the lyrics had all of the depth of “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire.” The band had one hit off of the album, Good Girls Don’t whose title reflected the titillated frat boy feel of the album. By the time Third World was released, it was greeted with a universal yawn.
This is a shame.
Third World found a band beginning to mature. The innuendo was still thick as a new york phone book, but the band broadened its range with songs like Africa, a funky world beat exploration and slow piano ballads like Pay The Devil. Just Wait and See and Another Lousy Day in Paradise provided die hard fans with a tasty dose of pop, while Art Wars (My personal fav) found the Knack making a personal statement on the popular/political nature of art.
The early 80’s really have a lot to answer for. Some of the most putrid dreck since Starland Vocal Band made its debut in this era. While the Knack may have launched a hundred skinny tie bands, they also produced some really good music, the kind of music that makes me drive faster than I should and sing even when I know I’ll never hit the note.
The Knack continue to release music worth listening to, including their most recent release, Re-Zoom which contains a fantastic version of Elvis Costello’s Girl’s Talk. I would ask any fan of pop music to give them a try.