Get the Knack

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Get the Knack
Studio album by The Knack
Released June 11, 1979
Recorded April 1979
Genre Rock, new wave, power pop
Length 40:58
Label Capitol
Producer Mike Chapman
The Knack chronology
Get the Knack
(1979)
...But the Little Girls Understand
(1980)

Get the Knack is the debut album by the Knack, released in June 1979. At the time, the album was one of the most successful debuts in history, selling over one million copies in less than two months and spending five weeks at number one on the Billboard 200 album chart. The lead single from the album, "My Sharona", was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks and number one on Billboard's Top Pop Singles of 1979 year end chart. The follow-up single, "Good Girls Don't," followed "My Sharona" to #1 on the Canadian Singles Chart, and reached #11 in the U.S.

Background[edit]

The Knack formed in Los Angeles in May 1978, and after shopping their demo tape to various record labels without success, the band began playing the local club circuit beginning in June, playing over 50 gigs in the next six months. The band quickly gained a following as word of mouth spread about their energetic shows and musicians such as Ray Manzarek, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen came to their shows and joined the group on stage. By December, thirteen record labels, including some that previously rejected them, were offering recording contracts and the group signed with Capitol Records in January 1979.[1]

Recording[edit]

The album was recorded in just two weeks at a cost of only $18,000, an extremely quick and inexpensive recording at a time when many established artists were spending months and several hundred thousand dollars to record an album. The album was produced by Mike Chapman, who had written hits for Sweet in the early 1970s and most recently produced Blondie's breakout album Parallel Lines.[2]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars [3]
Robert Christgau B− [4]
Rolling Stone mixed [5]
Smash Hits 5/10 stars [6]

Get the Knack was released in June 1979 and became an immediate success, thanks in part to an intense promotional campaign by Capitol Records. The Knack's image was largely influenced by the Beatles. The album cover imitates their first Capitol LP Meet the Beatles!, and the back cover photo depicts a scene from the Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night. To complete the Beatle imagery, the 1960s Capitol rainbow label adorned the LP, a detail the band had written into its contract. The album went Gold in just 13 days, becoming Capitol Records' fastest selling debut LP since Meet the Beatles in 1964. By August, the album reached number one on the Billboard 200, where it remained for five weeks, and was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for one million copies sold. The lead single, "My Sharona", also met with immediate success, becoming Capitol's fastest selling debut single since the Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks.[7]

Dick Nusser in Billboard praised many of the songs.[8] Besides the big hits, he noted that the album opener "Let Me Out" is a "teen anthem delivered at full speed" with "delightful backing harmonies, singing, slapping guitars and perfectly tuned drumming," that the quiet ballad "Maybe Tonight" is "a potential standard," and that the pleading song "Oh Tara" indicates that The Knack "aren't strict girl haters." Nasser also called "That's What the Little Girls Do" a "classic," remarking on its "strong melody" and remarked on the Bo Diddley-like riff on "(She's So) Selfish."[8]

Allmusic critic Bruce Eder referred to the Knack's version of Buddy Holly's "Heartbeat" as "a ballad played with a lot of '70s attitude," and that "it does give a fresh take on the song."[9] Trouser Press referred to "Maybe Tonight" as "bottom-of-the-barrel sap" but praised "My Sharona," "Let Me Out" and "Frustrated" as "tight guitar pop."[10] Trouser Press also commented on the negative portrayal of the woman protagonists of "She's So Selfish," "Frustrated" and "That's What the Little Girls Do."[10] Kurt Cobain listed it in his top fifty albums of all time.[11][12]

Initial negative backlash[edit]

To many critics, the Knack's image seemed too contrived and their attitude too brash, and soon there was a backlash against their overnight success. San Francisco conceptual artist Hugh Brown, who had designed the Clash's Give 'Em Enough Rope album cover, started a "Knuke the Knack" campaign complete with t-shirts, buttons and bumper stickers. Some music writers began to criticize the band for what they perceived as arrogance, hype and a misogynist attitude expressed in their songs.[13][14] The band's refusal to do interviews was also viewed negatively by the music press. One entertainment weekly, Scene magazine, refused to publish a review of the Knack's concert in Cleveland due to what it called "attempts at censorship" by the band's management.[15]

Re-issues[edit]

When the album was released on CD in 1990, lyrics of the song "(She's So) Selfish" were different than the original release, with lines like "coming from the quaalude scene" changed to "lame'o scene". Capitol Records used a censored alternate version of the song which was requested in certain countries.

The album was re-issued on CD in 2002 as a remastered version true to the original vinyl release. This version included bonus demos of "My Sharona" and "That's What The Little Girls Do," as well as a rehearsal take of "Maybe Tonight." It also included a cover of Bruce Springsteen's Darkness on the Edge of Town outtake "Don't Look Back," which the Knack recorded in 1979 but left off the original Get the Knack album, and a cover of Nick Lowe's "I Knew the Bride".[16][17][18] The latest CD re-issue was remastered by Iconoclassic Records in 2011. Unlike the previous remaster, the 2011 release contains no dynamic range compression.

Track listing[edit]

Side 1[edit]

  1. "Let Me Out" (Doug Fieger, Berton Averre) – 2:20
  2. "Your Number or Your Name" (Fieger, Averre) – 2:57
  3. "Oh Tara" (Fieger) – 3:04
  4. "(She's So) Selfish" (Fieger, Averre) – 4:30
  5. "Maybe Tonight" (Fieger) – 4:00
  6. "Good Girls Don't" (Fieger) – 3:07

Side 2[edit]

  1. "My Sharona" (Fieger, Averre) – 4:52
  2. "Heartbeat" (Bob Montgomery, Norman Petty) – 2:11
  3. "Siamese Twins (The Monkey and Me)" (Fieger, Averre) – 3:25
  4. "Lucinda" (Fieger, Averre) – 4:00
  5. "That's What the Little Girls Do" (Fieger) – 2:41
  6. "Frustrated" (Fieger, Averre) – 3:51

Personnel[edit]

Chart positions[edit]

Album

Year Chart Position
1979 Billboard 200 1
1979 Kent Music Report (Australia) 1
1979 "RPM" Album Chart (Canada) 1[19]
1979 UK Album Chart 65

Singles

Year Single Chart Position
1979 "My Sharona" Billboard Hot 100 1
1979 "My Sharona" Kent Music Report (Australia) 1
1979 "My Sharona" Canadian Singles Chart 1
1979 "My Sharona" UK Singles Chart 6
1979 "Good Girls Don't" Billboard Hot 100 11
1979 "Good Girls Don't" Canadian Singles Chart 1
1979 "Good Girls Don't" UK Singles Chart 66
Preceded by
Bad Girls by Donna Summer
Billboard 200 number-one album
August 11 - September 14, 1979
Succeeded by
In Through the Out Door by Led Zeppelin
Preceded by
Breakfast in America by Supertramp
Canadian "RPM" Album Chart number-one album
September 8, 1979 - October 13, 1979
Succeeded by
Breakfast in America by Supertramp
Preceded by
The Very Best of Leo Sayer by Leo Sayer
Australian Kent Music Report number-one album
September 3–16, 1979
September 24 - October 7, 1979
Succeeded by
Slow Train Coming by Bob Dylan

References[edit]

  1. ^ McKenna, Kristine. "The Knack and How to Do It" Los Angeles Times December 3, 1978: P94
  2. ^ McCullaugh, Jim. "Knack Rides Charts with $18,000 Album" Billboard August 4, 1979: 62
  3. ^ Woodstra, Chris. "Allmusic review". Allmusic. All Media Guide. Retrieved 2011-07-03. 
  4. ^ "Robert Christgau's Consumer Guide". Robert Christgau. robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 2011-07-03.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  5. ^ "Records". Rolling Stone. rollingstone.com. Retrieved 2012-11-03.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  6. ^ Starr, Red. "Albums". Smash Hits (August 9–22, 1979): 25. 
  7. ^ Atkinson, Terry. "The Knack: yesterday...and today" Rolling Stone October 18, 1979: 32, 35-37
  8. ^ a b Nusser, D. (July 28, 1979). "Closeup: Get The Knack". Billboard Magazine. pp. 52, 66. Retrieved 2011-07-14. 
  9. ^ Eder, B. "Get the Knack/...But the Little Girls Understand". allmusic. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  10. ^ a b Robbins, I. & Sandlin, M. "Knack". Trouser Press. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  11. ^ "Top 50 by Nirvana [MIXTAPE]". Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  12. ^ Cross, Gaar, Gendron, Martens, Yarm (2013). Nirvana: The Complete Illustrated History. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-7603-4521-4. 
  13. ^ Hilburn, Robert. "A Knack on the Door for L.A. Rock" Los Angeles Times July 29, 1979: L1
  14. ^ McKenna, Kristine. "Knack: A Dissenting View" Los Angeles Times July 29, 1979: L64
  15. ^ Ed. "Live Wire" Scene October 11–17, 1979
  16. ^ "Get the Knack (Bonus Tracks)". Allmusic. Retrieved 2011-07-12. 
  17. ^ Guterman, J. (2005). Runaway American dream: listening to Bruce Springsteen. Da Capo Press. pp. 109–110. ISBN 978-0-306-81397-9. 
  18. ^ Borack, J. (2007). Shake some action: the ultimate power pop guide. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-9797714-0-8. 
  19. ^ "RPM 100 Albums". Library and Archives Canada. September 8, 1979. Retrieved 2012-10-12.