The Smithereens, Meet The Smithereens (Koch, 2007)

The Smithereens gained a considerable amount of attention in the late eighties and early nineties for their ability to make quality modern rock while remaining true to their classic rock roots. They had a run of radio-friendly rockers like "Blood and Roses," "Behind a Wall of Sleep," and "Only a Memory," but eventually the hits dried up. Now Pat DiNizio and the lads have re-invented themselves, for an album at least, as a Beatles tribute band. Meet The Smithereens! reproduces in its entirety, from "I Want to Hold Your Hand" to "Not a Second Time,", the 1964 Capitol LP Meet The Beatles! which brought Beatlemania across the Atlantic for the first time.

Remaking an album song for song seems like an odd concept, the same way that remaking a classic film came across as odd before it became commonplace. I think you can make it work, though, if you hold on to what was good about the original and show it the proper respect as you present the material to an audience that won't all be familiar with it. I think The Smithereens have succeeded in that regard here. The band members are old enough to have seen the first appearance of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show when they were kids, and their collective destiny was probably set right then and there. The purpose of Meet The Smithereens!, then, appears to be to capture some of the spark The Beatles instilled in them and bring it into the present day.

Despite DiNizio's vocal limitations relative to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the musical performances throughout Meet The Smithereens! are solid. And of course, the selection of material is impeccable. Given that The Beatles' recorded output only got better as the sixties progressed, it's easy for somebody too young to have lived through it to forget that their early music was really good too. I suppose I should thank The Smithereens for the reminder.

Will Meet the Smithereens! make anybody forget the original versions of the songs? No, but I really don't think that's their intent. Like fine performers of traditional music, The Smithereens are putting their own stamp on the music that inspired them, in the hopes of directing the attention of younger listeners not just to them, but to The Beatles as well. So I think there's a place for recordings like this one if they at least do the originals justice, which Meet The Smithereens! does.

Overall grade: B+

reviewed by Scott

1 comment:

digitaldoc said...

I love that CD cover. It's simply perfect for the music!