June 1997
s m u g
ear candy
by Leslie Harpold

Got the Knack?

My next door neighbor Candace and I used to play The Cars "Candy-O" and both Knack records when I was in eighth grade to distraction. We'd sit on my front porch, turn it all the way up and watch the boys from Northwest have soccer practice right across the street. These were high school boys, so we figured the full volume declaration of our musical taste would irresistibly draw them to us, although in retrospect, I'm sure any attention we got was largely based on our tube tops.

Still, to hear those songs with the hisses and pops of vinyl intact is to get in touch with some deep primal stirring of mine. To feel that brink of sexual tension, like a Pavlovian dog, it feels a little like waiting too long to pee, right when you're trying to decide if you still need to go or not.

I almost got the same feeling listening to the new Foo Fighters record. If only they had the presence of mind to put that little hissing noise at the beginning, I would have thought at times I was listening to "...but the Little Girls Understand," the sophomore and swan song record from The Knack.

I'm a little worried about the Foo Fighters.

See, the parallels between the two bands are slightly less obvious than say, the whole "Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln" and "Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy" conspiracy, but they're there if that's what you're looking for. I wouldn't have looked if tracks like Monkeywrench and Wind Up didn't bear such a striking resemblance to The Knack's Tell Me You're Mine and the reprise to Mr. Handleman.

FF's Doll, the now obligatory power ballad by mod rock artists seems to merely serve as the epilogue to It's You where the remorse for The Knack's overzealous declaration of strong emotion kicks in.

When The Knack first emerged in 1977 with "Get the Knack" their beat driven, hook laden power pop captured the hearts and burgeoning hormones of a whole generation of pre- and post-pubescent kids who were looking for something with a little more urgency than the sunny pop of dominant musical forces of the time like Wings and Pablo Cruise, but without the nasty album rock aftertaste of Foghat and the watered down orchestration of bands like Styx. Enter Doug Fieger and his crew, inexplicably dividing the hearts of critics, and experiencing wild success on the charts. By the time the next record came out, the hits were overplayed (and of course there were all those Ayatollah song parodies to the tune of My Sharona) and the critics waited to pulverize them in the press, seemingly, no matter what the record sounded like.

"...but the Little Girls Understand" was a nod to the naysayers, The Knack made no secret of the fact that they were well aware at the real force behind their success. (I remember hearing other girls swoon "he looks like John Ritter, but cuter" numerous times) .

So - where are the similarities? Well, mainly, the records sound alike, both "The Colour and the Shape" and "...but the Little" are the bands highly anticipated second releases and both records sound a lot alike. It's also safe to say that both records are solid and wholly listenable, laced with formulaic pop that especially appeals to the "gonna get my driver's license this summer and blast this from Mom's stereo" set, but will still be found on the lips of every twenty and thirty something that considers themselves "with it."

I still think both groups debut records were better. Once The Knack's second record fell off the charts, that was the last we heard from them until My Sharona was old enough to be a novelty song, and I'd hate to see this summer be all the Foo Fighters we get until the "Big Chill" or "Reality Bites" of the Millennial Generation is made and Big Me is on the soundtrack. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the band will continue to grow and put out good records, if only because Pat Smear needs the work. There's not a lot of call for really old punk guys who can still rock.

The difference likely lies in the fact that the Fighters are the bastard children of a long line of great bands, and have a much better perspective - not to mention exponentially more raw talent than The Knack. After listening to "The Colour and the Shape" though, seeing the similarities was just unavoidable.

The final saving grace for the Foo Fighters are two tracks that, while they have certain Knack-like undertones, kind of have a life of their own. My Hero I can find no better way to describe than by saying it sounds like a cover of a Nirvana song that never existed, complete with the attitude and pose of self loathing, and Everlong, by far the album's strongest track actually comes dangerously close to sounding like what everyone hoped the next Foo Fighters record would sound like.

Don't get me wrong, this is an excellent album and one that makes me wish I still had a front porch to sit on while I blared this record to impress the soccer players, and of course, I just don't look that good in a tube top now that the whole nubility-of-a-13-year-old has worn off completely. I'm just saying that I hope that once the hullabaloo dies down, this isn't the last we hear from the Fighters until they turn up at some county fair ten years from now as the novelty nostalgia attraction that opens for the funny car race.


back to the junk drawer

and such
and such

·feature· ·net worth· ·bumping uglies· ·smoking jacket· ·ear candy· ·feed hollywood· ·target audience· ·three dollar bill· ·compulsion· ·posedown· ·the biswick files· ·mystery date· ·and such and such· ·blab· ·kissing booth·

·contents· ·freakshow· ·fan club· ·junk drawer·

copyright © 1996, 1997 fearless media