While not quite one-hit wonders, The Knack’s eponymous first album hit the airwaves in 1979 like the D-Day landing on Omaha Beach. Led by Doug Fieger (guitar/vocals) with Berton Averre (lead guitar), Bruce Gary (drums) and Prescott Niles (bass), the group’s members did have the “knack” for penning catchy little ditties with a relentless backbeat. The playlist is a litany of the usual boy-girl relationship issues:
- Let Me Out (2:50)
- Your Number Or Your Name (2:57)
- Oh Tara (3:04)
- She’s So Selfish (4:30)
- Maybe Tonight (4:00)
- Good Girls Don’t (3:07)
- My Sharona (4:52)
- Heartbeat (2:11)
- Siamese Twins (The Monkey And Me) (3:25)
- Lucinda (4:00)
- That’s What The Little Girls Do (2:41)
- Frustrated (3:51)
In an unvarnished effort to emulate The Beatles, Buddy Holly, and even The Kinks, from design of the album cover photo to the simplicity of the lyrics, chords (check out “Maybe Tonight”), and harmonies, The Knack never repeated the success of their maiden voyage. Sadly, two of the band members, leader Fieger and drummer Gary have passed away.
Capitol Records, not usually known for audiophile-quality pop albums, got their studio engineers to give us at least decent, if not great sound on this one. The 192kHz/24-bit version in this review wails the proverbial tar out of the 1990 CD reissue (yeah, I bought that one for “My Sharona”). The soundstage is pretty shallow with voices clustered in the middle and guitars in either channel, and drums and bass in the background.
A PDF file of the cover photo.
The Definitive Word
Rock-and-roll has both its hall of fame and elephant burial ground. Unfortunately for The Knack, this promising 1970s group ended up in the latter. This debut album has a mixture of peppy dance numbers mixed with a couple of mid-tempo ballads (“Maybe Tonight, “Lucinda”). On listening all the way through, after all it only takes 40 minutes of your time, I was struck by the relative homogeneity of many of the songs. In comparison with any of the earlier Beatles albums, there was less variety in subject material or actual melodies, and, I guess, this is what contributed to The Knack’s lack of staying power. Good remastering aside, this hi-res download belongs more to the curiosity file than the mainstream of iconic rock performances. In defense of this group, this album is a good reflection of what young people were hearing and buying in 1979.