Friday, June 11, 2021

"Only a Memory" by The Smithereens

Song#:  3521
Date:  05/21/1988
Debut:  100
Peak:  92
Weeks:  4
Genre:  Rock, Power Pop

Pop Bits:  This New Jersey band started to come together in 1980 when singer/guitarist Pat DiNizio put an ad in the local paper looking for a drummer for demo work. A guy answered who happened to be in a band with two of his high school friends. All four got together and The Smithereens were born. Not long after their formation, the band issued out an indie EP titled Girls About Town. Over the next few years, they honed their skills and gained a solid following. In 1983, they put out their second EP, Beauty and Sadness. It sold well and the guys returned to the studio and recorded five songs that they hoped would help get them a major record deal. Enigma Records would be the one to sign the band and a full-length debut album, 1986's Especially for You, would be recorded with Don Dixon (R.E.M.) producing. Its first single, "Blood and Roses," got to #14 at Rock. A second single made it to #23. The singles plus a good critical response pushed the album to #51. With that success, a second LP was warranted and the band came up with Green Thoughts. This first single was released and it became a hit at Rock reaching #1. The attention there helped the song cross over to the Pop chart, but it would only stay on the bottom rungs for a month. Good reviews and another Rock Top 20 entry helped the album get to #60.

ReduxReview:  I would discover The Smithereens on their next LP, so I didn't hear this song until much later when after becoming a fan I went back to hear their first releases. I loved their concise, hooky, melodic, 60s mod-based power pop sound along with Pat DiNizio's voice. Had I heard this track when it first came out, I probably would have bought the album. Alas, it would take another year or so before I finally became aware of them. No one else around this time was pushing out retro-ish power pop, so they had the market pretty much to themselves and were able to gain a big following. However, their style of rock wasn't necessarily something pop radio was into at the time so they were a bit of a hard sell. Still, with support from rock radio and MTV, they were able to crack the Pop chart, if just briefly. The song should have done a lot better, but at least the album sold pretty well.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  The band's first Rock chart hit, "Blood and Roses," would end up being featured on three movie soundtrack albums. It first was used in the 1986 film Dangerously Close that starred John Stockwell and Carey Lowell (of Law & Order fame). The film about teenage vigilantes was panned by critics, but was able to make enough money at the box office to cover costs. Next, the song was used in the 1989 teen romance/drama Under the Boardwalk. That starless flick went nowhere except perhaps straight to video. The track was then finally used in a film that did fairly well at the box office. It was put on the soundtrack to the 1997 comedy Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, which starred Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow. The film got middling reviews, but was able to make a little money at the box office. The soundtrack album, which featured several classic hits from the 80s, sold well and got to #64.


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