Get the Knack

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Get the Knack
Get The Knack album cover.JPG
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
SourceRating
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[3]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[4]
Smash Hits5/10[5]
The Village VoiceB−[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]

A negative backlash against the Knack's overnight success formed among critics who found the band's image too contrived and their attitude too brash. 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.[8][9] 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.[10]

In a favorable review of Get the Knack, Dick Nusser in Billboard was particularly complimentary of the "delightful backing harmonies, singing, slapping guitars and perfectly tuned drumming" on "Let Me Out", the "potential standard" "Maybe Tonight", and "That's What the Little Girls Do", which he deemed a "classic", remarking on its "strong melody".[11] Nusser also wrote that the pleading song "Oh Tara" indicates that The Knack "aren't strict girl haters."[11] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice found the band's misogyny "unattractive" and wrote that "if they felt this way about girls when they were unknowns, I shudder to think how they're reacting to groupies", but countered critics who had dismissed the band on "purely technical terms", arguing that "if they're less engaging musically than, say, the Scruffs, they have a lot more pop and power going for them than, say, the Real Kids."[6]

Legacy[edit]

AllMusic critic Chris Woodstra retrospectively wrote that the Knack's attempt to "update the Beatles sound for the new wave era" was "a good idea that was well executed", describing Get the Knack as "at once sleazy, sexist, hook-filled, and endlessly catchy -- above all, it's a guilty pleasure and an exercise in simple fun."[3] Trouser Press noted the negative portrayal of the female protagonists of certain songs and singled out "Maybe Tonight" as "bottom-of-the-barrel sap", but praised "My Sharona", "Let Me Out" and "Frustrated" as "tight guitar pop."[12] Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain listed Get the Knack in his top fifty albums of all time.[13][14]

Re-issues[edit]

When the album was initially released on CD in 1989,[15] the song "(She's So) Selfish" had vocals different from the original release, with lyrics like "coming from the quaalude scene" changed to "...lame'o scene". Capitol Records used a censored, alternate version of the track 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 was left off the Get the Knack LP, and a cover of Nick Lowe's "I Knew the Bride".[16][17][18] A subsequent CD re-issue was remastered by Iconoclassic Records in 2011. Unlike the previous remaster, the 2011 release contains no dynamic range compression.

In April 2017, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab released an audiophile version of the album on hybrid SACD.[19] (MFSL is also expected to ship a 180-gram vinyl LP version later in 2017.) This release, like the 2002 Capitol and 2011 Iconoclassic versions, utilizes the original, un-censored mixes.

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]

The Knack

Chart positions[edit]

Album

Year Chart Position
1979 Billboard 200 1
1979 Kent Music Report (Australia) 1
1979 "RPM" Album Chart (Canada) 1[20]
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

References[edit]

  1. ^ McKenna, Kristine (December 3, 1978). "The Knack and How to Do It". Los Angeles Times. p. P94.
  2. ^ McCullaugh, Jim (August 4, 1979). "Knack Rides Charts with $18,000 Album". Billboard: 62.
  3. ^ a b Woodstra, Chris. "Get the Knack – The Knack". AllMusic. Retrieved July 3, 2011.
  4. ^ Nelson, Chris (2004). "The Knack". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 462–63. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  5. ^ Starr, Red (August 9–22, 1979). "Albums". Smash Hits: 25.
  6. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (September 3, 1979). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved July 3, 2011.
  7. ^ Atkinson, Terry (October 18, 1979). "The Knack: yesterday...and today". Rolling Stone: 32, 35–37.
  8. ^ Hilburn, Robert (July 29, 1979). "A Knack on the Door for L.A. Rock". Los Angeles Times. p. L1.
  9. ^ McKenna, Kristine (July 29, 1979). "Knack: A Dissenting View". Los Angeles Times. p. L64.
  10. ^ Ed (October 11–17, 1979). "Live Wire". Scene. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  11. ^ a b Nusser, Dick (July 28, 1979). "Closeup: Get The Knack". Billboard: 52, 66. Retrieved July 14, 2011.
  12. ^ Robbins, Ira; Sandlin, Michael. "Knack". Trouser Press. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
  13. ^ "Top 50 by Nirvana [MIXTAPE]". Joyful Noise Recordings. Archived from the original on October 18, 2014. Retrieved May 8, 2013.
  14. ^ Cross, Gaar, Gendron, Martens, Yarm (2013). Nirvana: The Complete Illustrated History. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-7603-4521-4.
  15. ^ "CD Album - The Knack - Get The Knack - Capitol - USA". 45worlds. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  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. ^ "The Knack - Get The Knack (Numbered Hybrid SACD)". Music Direct. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  20. ^ "RPM 100 Albums". Library and Archives Canada. September 8, 1979. Retrieved 2012-10-12.