Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Re-Getting the Knack, In Memory

Although their mega-hit, My Sharona, has been indelibly etched in my memory since the summer of 1979, I haven't given The Knack much thought since I don't know when. But after a friend on Facebook posted the sad news that the band's lead singer, guitarist and chief songwriter, Doug Fieger, passed away from lung cancer at age 57 this past weekend, and then another friend did the same while noting that he was personally friends with Fieger, it got me thinking about the group that rocketed to fame accompanied by double-edge sword "new Beatles" hype.

Foggily recalling that I had at some point replaced my "Get the Knack" LP with a CD version, I fortunately found it without too much digging and gave it a couple listens as I drove back and forth on an excursion downtown. In doing so, especially by the second spin, I was surprised by how delightful it was beyond My Sharona and Good Girls Don't, the only other song I actually recalled.

While the Beatle references always likely had more to do with the Knack's styling than their music--and from Duran Duran to Oasis such allusions have proven to be silly in every case--the Knack's sound is more similar to late-70's power-pop/punk"ish" contemporaries like Cheap Trick and The Undertones (from Northern Ireland) than truly Beatlesque. All Music Guide cites The Kinks and Who as being much more influential on the Knack than the Beatles, and in this 2003 interview, Fieger describes how Pete Townshend was an early Knack champion.

Although I think I continued to pay a bit of attention to them after their first album, I never purchased any others, and other than "one hit wonder" status for My Sharona, the Knack largely--and precipitously--fell from my own, and the general public's, consciousness. In looking them up now, I see that they were reunited in the '90s and into the early '00s, but I never knew it.

Until just now, The Knack were one of a smattering of bands whose brief heyday came and went before I hit puberty--such as Off Broadway and The Kings--who I still recall fondly, perhaps beyond their artistic merit, but didn't often revisit. But while it's clearly a shame that a talented man died much too young, it was nice to be reminded that the Knack--at least on their glorious debut album--were actually better than I remembered.

If you never did, or like me lost track, do yourself a favor and Get the Knack.

No comments: