Round Trip

The Knack

Capitol Records, 1981

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


By the time 1981 rolled around, Doug Fieger and The Knack were about as fresh to music lovers as month-old bread. They had outlived the pop smuttiness of songs like "My Sharona" and "Good Girls Don't," going from The Wonders-with-a-hard-on to dirty old men.

Too bad that the musical attitude shifted against The Knack; their third album, Round Trip, was a major improvement over the embarrassment of ...But The Little Girls Understand, and should have marked a new beginning for the group. Instead, it only served as their first swansong.

The album starts out a little slow, but not poorly, with "Radiating Love," a song that has more Cheap Trick influences in it than The Beatles. "Soul Kissin'" could be called a remake of "My Sharona," but Fieger is able to keep things unique with this track without making it a blatant copy.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Where Round Trip really catches fire is in the funk/jazz-influenced "Africa," which allows the whole band the chance to cut loose and display their talents without hiding behind the cock-rock wall. Tracks like these really make me wish that more people had given The Knack a chance in the early '80s; I honestly think that songs like "Africa" would have kickstarted things for the band had it been given the proper attention.

Much of the remainder of Round Trip continues in the surprisingly pleasing pattern, though the world of funk/jazz is sadly left behind. "Just Wait And See" is another track that sounds like the fictional band The Wonders, and is incredibly enjoyable. "We Are Waiting" again gives the band a chance to experiment without falling into the patterns of old; this track does take a little time to get used to, but is well worth the effort.

The second half of Round Trip contains still more surprises ("Another Lousy Day In Paradise," "Boys Go Crazy"), but I will admit that by the time "Art War" finishes off the album, you're ready for a break. At least Fieger and crew knew when to call it an album.

So why didn't Round Trip do better in 1981? First, the band still had to defeat a large wave of fan backlash; remember that people used to wear "Knuke The Knack" shirts. Second, the musical tide was beginning to turn in a big way, and the only thing the music industry seemed to know at this time was upheaval. It would be some time before one particular genre caught fire, and The Knack - like many bands - got caught in the undertow.

Round Trip isn't the easiest album to find (though I believe you can buy it at the official Knack homepage), but if you were able to cut through the leering that made up Get The Knack in 1979, then Round Trip should be a nice trip down memory lane.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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