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The Smithereens

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Dressed in leather, brandishing heavy guitars, and exhibiting an unabashed fetish for British Invasion pop, the Smithereens were an anomaly in the American college rock scene of the late '80s. Lead singer/songwriter/guitarist Pat DiNizio stood out not only with his strange beatnik goatee, but also because his catchy hooks were haunting, not punchy, and because his lyrics were morose. As time wore on, the group became more straightforward, turning into an excellent bar band, one that attacked pop songs with the weight of AC/DC. A few hits followed, but the Smithereens seemed hopelessly out of date in the alternative rock explosion of the early '90s, and they quietly faded into a working cult band. Of course, the Smithereens essentially started out as a working band. After playing in several cover bands, including a handful of prog rock and metal groups, DiNizio was inspired to form his own band after listening to Buddy Holly. Placing an advertisement in a New York paper for musicians influenced by Holly, Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, and the Clash, DiNizio eventually came into contact with New Jersey high-school students Dennis Diken (drums), Jim Babjak (guitar), and Mike Mesaros (bass), who had all played together in school. By the end of 1980, they had independently released Girls About Town, an EP featuring four songs with "girl" in the title that was a moderate local success. For the next three years, the group played around New Jersey and New York, not releasing another record until 1983's Beauty and Sadness. While the EP earned some play on college radio and received a positive review in Rolling Stone, they still had trouble gaining an audience, so they began supporting traveling oldies artists like Otis Blackwell, with whom they recorded an album's worth of material, and the Beau Brummels. By 1985, the Smithereens were growing frustrated by their lack of progress, as most of the demos they sent to labels were ignored. They did send a demo to Enigma, where Scott Vanderbilt, a former college DJ who was a fan of the band several years earlier, signed the group. In 1986, the band released its debut album, the Don Dixon-produced Especially for You, to positive reviews. On the strength of college airplay, as well as MTV's airing of "Blood and Roses" -- a video financed by a film studio that included the song in the B-movie Dangerously Close -- the album became a moderate hit, climbing to number 51 on the charts and leading to a major-label contract with Capitol. The Smithereens supported the album with an extensive tour, and they recorded their second record weeks after they left the road. Green Thoughts appeared early in 1988, and the first single, "Only a Memory," not only became a college and modern rock hit, but it crossed over to album rock stations as well. The Smithereens made their attempt for big-time album rock success with their third album, 11. Hiring producer Ed Stasium brought a heavier guitar sound, which made "A Girl Like You" -- a song rejected as the theme for the comedy Say Anything -- a Top 40 hit, sending 11 to gold status. "Too Much Passion," the first single from their fourth album, Blow Up, indicated that the new record was more adventurous and produced, and the single did become a Top 40 hit, yet the album itself failed to replicate the success of its predecessor. Blow Up was their last album for Capitol, and they moved to RCA for 1994's A Date with the Smithereens, their first album since Green Thoughts to be produced by Don Dixon. By that time, the alternative and mainstream rock scenes had been heavily altered by grunge, which essentially left the band without an avenue for their records to be heard. The album bombed, but the Smithereens retained a sizable cult following that helped them tour successfully into the late '90s. In 1995, they released a pair of compilations, the hits package Blown to Smithereens and the rarities collection Attack of the Smithereens. After a five-year recording hiatus, the group returned to the studio for 1999's God Save the Smithereens. Another series of compilations and live recordings appeared between 2000 and 2006, with Meet the Smithereens! arriving the following year along with a holiday album, Christmas with the Smithereens. Live in Concert! Greatest Hits and More, recorded at the Court Tavern in New Brunswick, NJ, appeared in 2008. Two tribute albums would follow, with B-Sides the Beatles arriving in 2008 and The Smithereens Play Tommy following in 2009. In 2011 they issued Smithereens 2011, their first album of original songs in 11 years. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Albums by
The Smithereens

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    47 songs

    On Air

    Especially For You: 30th Anniversary

    13 songs

    On Air

    2011

    12 songs

    On Air

    B-Sides the Beatles

    12 songs

    On Air

    Christmas with the Smithereens

    11 songs

    On Air

    Green Thoughts

    12 songs

    On Air

    Blow Up

    10 songs

    On Air

    11

    3 songs

    On Air

    The 7th Inning Stretch Sessions

    40 songs

    On Air

    God Save the Smithereens [Deluxe Edition]

    40 songs

    On Air

    From Jersey It Came! The Smithereens Anthology

    14 songs

    On Air

    Especially for You

    1 song

    On Air

    Sorry

    18 songs

    On Air

    Live in Concert! Greatest Hits and More

    12 songs

    On Air

    Stages

    11 songs

    On Air

    Green Thoughts

    6 songs

    On Air

    New York City 1986 (Live) - EP

    4 songs

    On Air

    Too Much Passion

    10 songs

    On Air

    The Best of the Smithereens [2006 EMI]

    16 songs

    On Air

    Blown to Smithereens: The Best of the Smithereens

    13 songs

    On Air

    The Smithereens Play Tommy

    12 songs

    On Air

    Meet the Smithereens!

    13 songs

    On Air

    God Save the Smithereens

    12 songs

    On Air

    Date with the Smithereens

    10 songs

    On Air

    11

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Top Songs by
The Smithereens

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   A Girl Like You
  3.   Only a Memory
  4.   Christmas Time All Over the World
  5.   Behind the Wall of Sleep
  6.   Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
  7.   Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  8.   Blood and Roses
  9.   Merry Christmas, Baby
  10.   Yesterday Girl
  11.   House We Used to Live In
  12.   Waking Up on Christmas Morning
  13.   Christmas Time Is Here Again
  14.   Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)
  15.   Run Rudolph Run
  16.   She's Got a Way
  17.   Drown in My Own Tears
  18.   Green Thoughts
  19.   Blues Before and After
  20.   Ruler of My Heart
  21.   The World Keeps Going Round
  22.   Elaine
  23.   Groovy Tuesday
  24.   Since You Went Away
  25.   Just a Little by The Beau Brummels
  26. See All Songs

Stations & Shows Featuring
The Smithereens

    On Air

    A Very Rockin Misfit Christmas

    On Air

    '80s Rock

    On Air

    Eclectic Holiday

    On Air

    Classic Alternative

    On Air

    '80s Alternative

    On Air

    Rock The Halls

    On Air

    Tom Petty: DNA

    On Air

    '90s Alternative

    On Air

    Alt. Country

    On Air

    Cheap Trick: DNA

    On Air

    Holiday Deep Dive

    On Air

    Eclectic Rock

    On Air

    Soft Rock


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