FDF Volume 2: Issue 141: The Smithereens - 11
Album - 11
Artist - The Smithereens
Key Players - Jim Babjak - guitar. Dennis Diken - drums, percussion. Pat DiNizio - lead vocals, guitar. Mike Mesaros - bass
Produced By - Ed Stasium
Release Date - October 18, 1989
What caused me to blow off the dust? - Not really sure. I think it is what the band is doing now, that had me looking back.
Overview - The New Jersey based "Smithereens" would land their biggest hits, and albums success on this, their third official album. The album would be the bands highest charting record, landing at #41 on the Billboard charts in 1989. According to the Wiki page for the band "The album cover was inspired a movie poster for the original Ocean's Eleven" and, the 11 title itself was inspired by the Christopher Guest (as "Nigel Tufnel") quote from the film This Is Spinal Tap, "This one goes to eleven."
FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The band is known for a "full sound" and a single grinding guitar opens up "A Girl Like You" and the whole band comes in. Diken is on the ride cymbal and the band chugs through some power chords with Mesaros tossing out bass riffs. The guitars are compressed and tight, the drumming methodical. You heard quick bursts of acoustic guitars but they are buried a little in the mix. Babjak gets a good run at a solo after some repeats on the chorus and Mesaros gets that that well known bass break down riff that throws the song into the final runs of the chorus. "Blues Before and After" opens up with a simple back beat. This was a second single from the record, and the vocals are little more laid back, and we heard a lot of the backing vocals on this track. The rhythm section is tight, but doesn't over play their role(s). Babjak gets a quick solo about 1:30 before we return to the verses. "Blue Period" is a much more laid back track opening with strings and DiNizio is a much more relaxed vocal range. Former Go-Go lead singer Belinda Carlisle offers backing vocals for a real nice moment. We return to the rock on "Baby Be Good". Mesaros is right up in the front from the beginning. The guitars have a punch at times, but they chime out at others. The drum work is basic, it keeps things in check, but we don't get too crazy. Once again, a single guitar opens up "Room Without a View", and we get a few oohs and ahhs sung over that. There are piano fills on the track for the first time as the chorus is sung, they rely a lot on repeating the title for the bulk of the track. Its not overly flashy and doesn't really stand out. The third single from the record "Yesterday Girl" opens with DiNinzio right on the mark on vocals. The song as a very pop/rock feel to it with a strong back beat, but fun fills from the bass and drums and an infectious chorus. Another song opening up "full sounding" is "Cut Flowers". The band falls in to place quickly on this and keeps the tempo a little slower than prior tracks, but allows for the harmonies to stand out on the backing vocals. "William Wilson" also has a lot of the same feel. The band never seems to waste time in getting to vocals started and this is no exception. "Maria Elena" is a great tune, that showcases the great sound of the band. They are not going too over the top on this, but letting the vocals to the job on this track. You hear some strings and a pretty strong, yet seemingly subtle guitar solo. Once again there is some great harmonies and call and responses on the chorus. The album wraps up with "Kiss Your Tears Away". DiNinzio sings much more "hushed" and the band follows with a mellow back beat but full guitars.
Where are they now? - The band is still active and tours to this day. The only change is that bassist Mike Mesaros has left the band in 2006. They have released some unique tribute records in the last few years. One being "Meet the Smithereens" which is a cover of the entire "Meet the Beatles" album, a second Beatles record that is all b-sides, and finally in 2009 the band released "The Smithereens play Tommy". They hope to have an album of new material later in 2009.
FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I have never seen the band live.
FDF Overall Take - Although I have never seen the band live I'd figure that in a live setting these, and most of their songs really hit home. The bigger singles on this record are the stand outs for sure, but for the casual fan their best of collection might do the trick. I have to say, I am very curious about the tribute records.
The band official andmyspace pages. Also, Pat's page and Jim's page.
Curious? Check out some MUSIC!
MP3's have been removed...
A Girl Like You
All the tracks were taken from "11" which you can buy here for as little as 0.01 for a used copy.
Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.