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Long Time, No Smithereens
January 25, 2007 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Meet the Smithereens. [warning: streaming Flash audio]
Nine years after their last album and 43 years after the original was released, The Smithereens cover the Beatles' Meet the Beatles album [review; this article has more background].
posted by kirkaracha (51 comments total)

 
In other long-dormant Beatle-esque pop group news, Crowded House is getting back together and going on tour.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:31 PM on January 25, 2007


That sounded much better than it should have.

As for Beatle-esque pop, Andy Partridge (of XTC fame) just releaed a 9-disc set.

Someone wanna buy it for me?
posted by bardic at 2:39 PM on January 25, 2007


And here I thought the Smithereens couldn't make themselves even more irrelevant.

Mary, mother of God, why?
posted by dobbs at 2:42 PM on January 25, 2007


What's the point?
posted by Kwine at 2:47 PM on January 25, 2007


Relevance is completely irrelevant. The question is whether it is any good, right?

Is covering an entire album becoming more common? I know Clawhammer did the entire first Devo album about ten years ago, who else has done this sort of thing?
posted by InfidelZombie at 2:51 PM on January 25, 2007


That's an extremely straight cover I Want To Hold Your Hand.
posted by cortex at 2:53 PM on January 25, 2007


Meet the Marching Smithereens
posted by kirkaracha at 3:03 PM on January 25, 2007


I've been searching quite a while for Shlong's Tumors, a punk cover of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours.
posted by john m at 3:04 PM on January 25, 2007


Anybody remember a Disney movie called Meet the Deedles from a few years ago? I never saw it, but after it came out I found out about the movie Meet the Feebles.

Then I thought about that Disney movie and wondered why the hell Disney would make a movie with a similar title. I thought it was kind of awesome, actually.

Turns out these Beatles guys have some old album with a similar name. Suddenly life is less fun.
posted by gurple at 3:06 PM on January 25, 2007


I'll stick with Pussy Galore's Exile On Main Street for now
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 3:10 PM on January 25, 2007


I saw the Smithereens play around 1990 or 91, if memory serves. The bass player's ego was completely out of check ... but not in a "it's cool, he's a rock star" kinda way. It overshadowed the entire show, and made me decide I hated that band. Yup. Still hate 'em.
posted by ScottUltra at 3:13 PM on January 25, 2007


Irrelevant? YMMV. For what it's worth, and it probably ain't worth much, Dennis Diken and Pat DiNizio are two of the all time nicest guys I met in my many years being in bands, managing bands and booking shows. And, having seen them live as recently as a couple of years ago, they still put on a pretty great show.
posted by psmealey at 3:15 PM on January 25, 2007


If they'd never done anything but "House We Used To Live In" they'd still be pop heroes.

I agree the cover of "...Hand" is so faithful as to seem a bit needless.
posted by escabeche at 3:27 PM on January 25, 2007


"Especially for You" was one of my favorite alternative albums from the 80's but this seems rather desperate.
posted by GavinR at 3:28 PM on January 25, 2007


Their music is just so incredibly generic; I never understood the appeal. ...Although I will admit it was amusing watching the bass player (on SNL) jumping around and jammin hard to the SIMPLEST BASS LINES EVAR.

Also, [your favorite band] sucks.
posted by LordSludge at 3:30 PM on January 25, 2007


If they'd never done anything but "House We Used To Live In" they'd still be pop heroes.

Agreed. Green Thoughts is still in my pantheon, my desert island collection, right alongside Tim, Repeater, Zen Arcade and Loveless.
posted by psmealey at 3:30 PM on January 25, 2007


The best full Beatles cover album I've experienced ever is Sgt Pepper's by Big Daddy, now sadly and unjustly out of print. Each song is played in the style of a different pre-Beatles rock and roller. My favorites are "A Day in the Life" in the style of Buddy Holly ("...I saw the photogra-a-ha-a-ha-a-ha-haph.") and "Within You Without You" performed as beat poetry.

Apropos of precious little.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 3:32 PM on January 25, 2007


I agree the cover of "...Hand" is so faithful as to seem a bit needless.

It'd be neat if the album had proceeded start to finish as a sort of tribute disintegration—from that nearly rote rendition of I Want To Hold Your Hand to a nearly unrecognizably dissolved/reconfigured interpretation of Tell There Was You, with a constantly sliding throughout from tribute to transmogrification.
posted by cortex at 3:34 PM on January 25, 2007


That's too bad ScottUltra, I saw them in 1987. Now, about 500 shows later, that still is one of the best I've ever seen.

omygodimold
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 3:37 PM on January 25, 2007


I saw the lead singer try to drunkenly talk two girls in to a threesome at the Pike house in Tuscaloosa in 89. They turned him down.

I still love that bassline from Blood and Roses.
posted by nyxxxx at 4:08 PM on January 25, 2007


These guys were so bland I always assumed they were Canadian.
But that Wikipedia page says they're from New Jersey. Just like the Boss. And Yo La Tengo. Maybe it's about time I took more of an interest in The Smithereens.
posted by Flashman at 4:24 PM on January 25, 2007


I saw the lead singer try to drunkenly talk two girls in to a threesome at the Pike house in Tuscaloosa in 89. They turned him down

Behind the Wall of Creep.
posted by sourwookie at 4:39 PM on January 25, 2007


That sounded much better than it should have.

Seconded. I was all prepared to sneer, but I really enjoyed that. But then, pretty much anything that sounds like 1964 is OK with me. (Which is why I ran out and bought the Pointer Sisters' "Should I Do It" the instant I heard it back in... Christ, 1982. A quarter of a century ago. To many of you, 1982 is before your time. Never mind, I'm going to go off to my ice floe now.)
posted by languagehat at 5:01 PM on January 25, 2007


Not as good as Meet the Residents.

That is all.
posted by koeselitz at 5:41 PM on January 25, 2007


Hard to top the Residents effort:
http://www.amazon.com/Meet-Residents/dp/B00002MYLI

Beet me to it koeselitz.
I'm actually a fan of the Smithereens and this post reminded me to give them a listen tonight. However, they were already a bit Beatles sounding and the tribute does not really add to the original (IMHO).
posted by evilelf at 5:50 PM on January 25, 2007


Shouldn't they be called The Beatlereens. leaving the Smithereens to a forthcoming Smiths tribute band?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:52 PM on January 25, 2007


Shouldn't they be called The Beatlereens.

I'd prefer the Smeatles.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:03 PM on January 25, 2007


Are Beatles covers some kind of hip-replacement new thing? Around here there's some kind of recurring thing called Abbey Road on the River, and the first I heard of it was last year. The Smithereens were playing there, and there were some articles in the local alternarags and maybe even the Courier-Journal, and I said "WTF?" and shook my head.... Are Elvis impersonators passe, now?
posted by dilettante at 6:07 PM on January 25, 2007


"Shouldn't they be called The Beatlereens.

I'd prefer the Smeatles."

When I was about eight, for a brief time I went around yelling "Beat the Meatles!" to family members, friends, visiting dignitaries, strangers on the street, and sometimes playground equipment. I didn't know what people might take it to mean; I just really liked that album and thought the spoonerism sounded delightful. Sometimes I think of it today and cringe, but my family members are nice enough not to bring it up. Usually. Come to think of it, I don't know why they let me do it in the first place.
posted by Kwine at 6:27 PM on January 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Beatallica is taken.
"Probably the cutest album in the Laibach discography, Let It Be is the best joke ever released as a full-length album...Ever wanted to hear mediocre Beatles material transformed into statist industrial music? Well, now’s your chance."
George Benson did The Other Side of Abbey Road three weeks after The Beatles' album came out, and McLemore Avenue is a cover of Booker T. & the M.G.'s 1970 Abbey Road, too.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:55 PM on January 25, 2007


Yeah, so what? Let's see them do it in German.
posted by Gungho at 7:13 PM on January 25, 2007


Bardic: XTC fame...

What are those two words doing next to each other? (The box is beyootiful, BTW)

This Smithereens thing is interesting, but no one will ever top Ringo's wacky fills on I Wanna Hold Your Hand.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:01 PM on January 25, 2007


I prefer A Day In The Life of Green Acres by Damaskas and Barnes & Barnes. The lyrics are a big improvement.
posted by rfs at 8:23 PM on January 25, 2007


For what it's worth, and it probably ain't worth much, Dennis Diken and Pat DiNizio are two of the all time nicest guys I met

Well, let me know when they're starting a finishing school and I'll enroll. Until then, this a pretty pathetic effort, imo.

These guys were so bland I always assumed they were Canadian.

Yeah, like Godspeed You Black Emperor, The Arcade Fire, Danko Jones, The Dears, DOA, NoMeansNo, Lullabye Arkestra, The Hidden Cameras, Final Fantasy, Do Make Say Think, etc etc. Please don't blame all Canadian musicians because disc jockeys in the USA only choose to play the bland shit made by Canadians trying to pass themselves off as American bands in order to get airplay. :)
posted by dobbs at 9:41 PM on January 25, 2007


Testify, brother!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:01 PM on January 25, 2007


Dobbs I am Canadian (ex patri ces jours), and a huge fan of half the bands you cite. But you can't deny that, back in the late 80s, before we started making all of the best music in the world, there was a lot of lame CanCon stinking up MuchMusic ... Glass Tiger, Honeymoon Suite, Corey Hart, Alannis, Gino Vanelli. I always lumped The Smithereens in with that Pursuit of Happiness kind of scene.
I wasn't paying that much attention though, I was listening to SNFU and the Dayglo Abortions, and DOA and all my local hardcore bands.
posted by Flashman at 1:06 AM on January 26, 2007


Actually a while back a friend played some Honeymoon Suite for me - the same dude who hipped me to Tupac - and they sounded damn good. But we were pretty high though.
posted by Flashman at 1:10 AM on January 26, 2007


Well, let me know when they're starting a finishing school and I'll enroll.

Yeah, well, whatever. Like I said, it's probably not worth much. I just root for the good guys when the "biz" is littered with self-centered assholes.

AAR, that was probably unintentional, but I actually think bland is a pretty apt word to describe the Arcade Fire and the Dears (throw in the Stills for good measure too). Not that I totally dislike those bands, I just think the description fits in those instances.
posted by psmealey at 3:43 AM on January 26, 2007


How horribly sad.
posted by chococat at 7:26 AM on January 26, 2007


Allow me to announce for those who are unaware: The Smithereens are fucking cool.

Thanks for the news, I can't wait to hear this
posted by poppo at 9:02 AM on January 26, 2007


The promo poster for Ocean's Eleven was a ripo--err, an homage to the cover of The Smithereens' 11. They both owe something to the Reservoir Dogs poster.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:29 PM on January 26, 2007


I prefer anything not by the Residents, so this only adds to that.

play the bland shit made by Canadians trying to pass themselves off as American bands in order to get airplay

I haven't paid any attention to Sloan since they tried that. I hear they've stopped trying. Is that true?
posted by juiceCake at 1:58 PM on January 26, 2007


Don't ever underestimate Sloan my friend. Do not underestimate Sloan. Chris Murphy and the boys have been recording in Malagasay, Madagascar and word is they have a new look and a new sound that is going to rock CBC Radio 3 like a hurricane.
posted by Flashman at 3:04 PM on January 26, 2007


Don't ever underestimate Sloan my friend. Do not underestimate Sloan. Chris Murphy and the boys have been recording in Malagasay, Madagascar and word is they have a new look and a new sound that is going to rock CBC Radio 3 like a hurricane.

So...you're saying they're going to try to sound like Neil Young now instead of trying to sound like the Beatles?

...and I've brought the thread full circle!
posted by chococat at 4:22 PM on January 26, 2007


The Smithereens weren't Dramarama, but they were still pretty cool.
posted by Hypnic jerk at 5:43 PM on January 26, 2007


...and I've brought the thread full circle!
posted by chococat at 7:22 PM EST on January 26


A friend of mine emailed Chris about the rumour my friend made up how, if Sloan had split up, there'd have been a splinter band called the Jay Ferguson Explosion. I just love that name. Chris said he'd pay good money to see a band called the Jay Ferguson Explosion. Frankly, I would too.

The Jay Ferguson Explosion.
posted by juiceCake at 7:31 PM on January 26, 2007


I've seen all four of them, at different times, at the Loblaws by my house.
posted by chococat at 8:34 PM on January 26, 2007


They both owe something to the Reservoir Dogs poster.

Eh, don't think so. 11 was released in 1989, and Reservoir Dogs didn't come out until 1992.
posted by psmealey at 4:02 PM on January 27, 2007


Btw, apologies for being a pathological Smithereens supporter.

Growing up in the burbs, I was a Greenwich Village rat on the weekends, or whenever I could be. Sneaking out, driving into the "the city" was my principal form of social life. On a particular fall night in 1984, a friend of mine and I (both underage) popped into Kenny's Castaways (a quasi biker dive bar on Bleecker St.), and stayed for a rock show featuring the Smithereens.

Now, growing up around NYC in the 80s, we didn't have homegrown local bands like Husker Du, the Replacements, REM, the B-52s, the Pixies or Dinosaur Jr. We had Biohazard, I guess, but that wasn't really my scene, and the Ramones were a 70s band who was already famous.

At any rate, already jaded at the point, thinking that great local music was something that happened somewhere else, I was shocked by the Smithereens. They played power pop, but with a kind of morose sensibility, which being a huge Cure and Smiths fan at the time, definitely struck a chord. They were loud, dynamic and very melodic. It was awesome; still one of the great shows I have ever seen in my life.

After the set, my impetuous and drunk 17 year old self introduced himself to the band, and we shot the shit for what seemed like a couple of hours. Super nice guys, I'll never forget it, no aspersions cast, despite our punkish nature, and just good times talking about music.

I bought Green Thoughts when it came out a couple of years later (LOVED IT, as I mention above), bought 11 when it came out just after college graduation, and was later happy for them when they got a top 10 hit with a song on the soundtrack of some dumb ass Jean-Claude van Damme flick.

Years go by. Played in many bands, and other than covering "Drown in My Own Tears" a couple of times, I don't think too much about them.

Fast forward to November 2001. I'm living in NYC, I've got PTSD as a result of what happened a couple of months earlier, I'm unemployed, miserable, and borderline suicidal.

One Saturday night, my wife tells me that she bought tickets to a "rock show" and that we're going out. I'm not really in the mood, but not wanting to disappoint, I go. When we get there (the BB King Blues Club, a cheesy "dinner theater" type joint on 42d street), I find out that it's the Smithereens. Now, I don't know that my wife has ever heard me speak of them, perhaps only in passing, and I'm sure that she doesn't know them from Adam and the Ants, but there it is.

Part of me was thinking, ugh: BB King Blues club, Times Square, an aging (proto-) alt rock band, and I'm still fucking depressed. This could really suck. But, in the mood for something a little different, we walked in.

I was stunned. To this day, I can't recall a louder, more energetic, better show. A show where everyone in the audience knew all the lyrics to ALL the songs and while singing them, it actually added to the experience, rather than being an obnoxious distraction like it sometimes can be. I think there were more than a few people in the audience who needed catharsis that night.

I don't know that it cured my PTSD, as I had a rough year following, but it did restore my hope a bit at a time when I could not have possibly been lower, psychically, spritually, emotionally. And for that, and for making it into my top 10 of rock shows I've ever seen, I'll be forever grateful.
posted by psmealey at 4:40 PM on January 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


No apology necessary. Great story.
posted by Hypnic jerk at 4:42 PM on January 27, 2007


The Smithereens weren't one of the bands to shift the earth on a new axis, but golly I love especially their first E.P. "Beauty and Sadness" with "Much too Much" on it.




ballsier than the also excellent Beatle imitators the Spongetones from the same era. Thanks for posting ... but I'd like to add maybe its time to bring back Marshall CRenshaw!
posted by celerystick at 11:01 PM on January 28, 2007


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