Especially For You

The Smithereens

Capitol Records, 1986

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


It's been some time since Pat DiNizio and the Smithereens graced the pages of "The Daily Vault," so I decided to dig back into their catalog a bit. Into the Pierce Archives (Bill Wirtz, go to hell - and take the team formerly known as the Blackhawks with you) I went, and out I came with the CD reissue of their first full-length disc, Especially For You.

Produced by Don Dixon, this album features a band whose youth and hunger were clearly evident in the songs - unfortunately, their inexperience also comes through crystal clear.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Borrowing a sound from both the Beatles and the Byrds courtesy of the 12-string Rickenbackers, DiNizio, lead guitarist Jim Babjak, bassist Mike Mesaros and drummer Dennis Diken subscribed to the three-minute school of songwriting: Say what you have to in three minutes, throw in a small guitar solo, and get the hell out.

Problem is, some of these songs needed a little more musical development to allow the listener to build up a good head of steam. "Blood And Roses" is a track that benefitted from such a development; the highlight of the album still shines bright, 12 years after this album originally came out. "In A Lonely Place" benefits from the guest vocals of one Suzanne Vega, while Dixon adds piano and keyboards throughout the album. (There are many other guests, but you can read the CD booklet to find out who they are - provided, of course, you can lay your hands on a copy.)

But Especially For You shows that the Smithereens were still very much a band in development, and they had not quite reached their musical maturity. "Listen To Me Girl" and "Cigarette" just don't seem to work, while others ("Crazy Mixed-Up Kid," "I Don't Want To Lose You", "Alone At Midnight"), while enjoyable to listen to, don't hold their own against the band's stronger works. Even one of their early hits, "Behind the Wall Of Sleep," pales a bit with age.

The two "bonus" tracks included on the CD reissue are scarred gems. "White Castle Blues," a song never meant to be high-caliber material, is fun to listen to. (Not only that, but it does make me a bit hungry.) The other song, "Mr. Eliminator," shows the band's debt to Dick Dale; it doesn't live up to Dale's version, but it is enjoyable.

Long-time fans of the Smithereens, of course, will want to snag this disc to round out their collections. For the rest of us, Especially For You is a hit-or-miss album, and is not essential owning.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol Records, and is used for informational purposes only.