Green Thoughts

The Smithereens

Enigma / Capitol Records, 1988

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Time once again for another edition of "bands I've let slide", those groups whose work I have really enjoyed when I've listened to them, but haven't gotten around to digging out of the archives for some time.

Today's subject: Pat DiNizio and The Smithereens, a group I always have thought were underappreciated in their time. I first got into this group thanks to their 1989 release 11, and it wasn't long afterwards that I found myself in the used record store picking up a copy of their 1988 release (and second full-length album) Green Thoughts. While the group's sound was still very much in development, the overall feel of this album is a good one, showing that the band was very close to having all their skills polished.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The song I once remembered this album for was "Only A Memory," which the radio station I worked for in college had the 12-inch single for. The crispness of the sound still wasn't there, but DiNizio, guitarist Jim Babjak, bassist Mike Mesaros and drummer Dennis Diken were jelling together as a band, and this particular song showed how much progress had been made since their first full-length effort Especially For You. (In all fairness, the album's sound could be the result of producer Don Dixon.)

The more I've listened to this album, the more I've grown to understand that "Only A Memory" is not the sole track that defines Green Thoughts. There is "House We Used To Live In," a slab of pop that is fresh and fun to listen to. There is "Drown In My Own Tears," a song that dares to make the pain one feels enjoyable. There is the title track, which sends the album forth in a pop fury that one might never have experienced before.

But what sets Green Thoughts apart from other albums of this genre and time period is that this is a more solid album than one might have expected from a sophomore release. Tracks like "The World We Know," "Deep Black," "Spellbound" and "Especially For You" might never have gotten airplay or a lot of attention, but they do say volumes about who this band was in 1988, and where they were headed in the very near future.

Granted, this is an album that you have to live with for a few listens in order to truly appreciate it. Plus, if you're coming off of discovery of the band through albums like 11, this one will pale in comparison for a while. It's been some time since I listened to 11, so I was able to approach Green Thoughts with fresh ears.

Green Thoughts appears to be out of print at the moment, but is well worth the search. Anyone who is an afficionado of good power-pop should add this one to their collection, as should fans of The Smithereens. Even though it's not their "best" work, it's not far off the target.

Rating: B

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© 1999 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 Enigma / Capitol Records, and is used for informational purposes only.