Rousing melodic rockers the Smithereens are probably best remembered for the ubiquitous single "A Girl Like You" off their 1989 album, 11. However, it would be a disgrace to consider this Who-loving four-piece from New Jersey a one-hit wonder. On the contrary, it should be championed for a no-nonsense, British-invasion style during the late '80s, AKA when bands cared more about the amount of Aqua Net in their hair than how hard they rocked.
With all the media hullabaloo circulating these past few months about the 20th anniversary of Nirvana's definitive major-label debut album, Nevermind, grunge-o-philes should take note that alternative rock warlord Kurt Cobain listed the Smithereens as one of his major influences during the time he was penning his band's said masterwork. No shit? Seriously, Cobain paid tribute to the Smithereens outstanding 1986 album, Especially for You, in one of his famed diaries.
In honor of the Smithereens' forthcoming free gig at the
Nectar Lounge at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek tonight, we thought it apt to compile the top five songs we think might have
influenced old Kurt when he was chilling in Seattle drinking Starbucks
coffee and thinking of the right verse to accompany "Come as You Are."
5. "Beauty and Sadness"
No question we had to start with one off the Smithereens' Especially for You, which left such an impression on Cobain that he jotted it down in his journal as one of his major influences. Many critics regard this track as the standout from the aforementioned album. We believe lead signer Pat Dinizio's disaffected, non sequitur verses could have influenced Cobain when he was pinning together the lines for his infamous adolescent battle cry "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
4. "Only a Memory"
Listen carefully to the chorus off this track for the Smithereens' stellar 1988 follow-up, Green Thoughts, and you'll hear bits and pieces of the gravelly midtempo tortured magnificence of songs like "In Bloom" and "Something in the Way." Particularly it is Cobain's midrange anguish that we hear jump out at us in lead singer Pat Dinizio's chorus.
3. "Blood and Roses"
This track was the first brush with success the Smithereens had, garnering them decent rotation on MTV and landing them on an episode of Miami Vice. You hear that intro bassline and delicate guitar strums? Without question they played a part in laying down the foundation for the quiet/loud/quiet ethos that would dominate most of Cobain's work later on.
2. "Behind the Wall of Sleep"
Yet another one from the Smithereens' Especially for You we just had to include because we picture Cobain head banging to this track's Marshall amp punch on his way to band practice. Pat DiNizio's despairing, world-weary lyrics and croaky delivery heard here clearly made an undeniable impact as well in Cobain's catharsis that would follow.
1. "Too Much Passion"
Off the Smithereens 1991 album Blow Up, "Too Much Passion" ended up as the band's highest-charting single, landing the group at number 38 on the charts. It's demonstrative of the soulful, unashamed turn the fellas took toward a mainstream sound in the early '90s. However subversive Nirvana's punk-rock charge seemed on the surface, it was its pop sensibilities underneath that made Nevermind such a breakout album. We believe Cobain might have learned a thing or two from the Smithereens' appeal for pure pop melody from this track.
The Smithereens. 9 p.m. Friday, September 2, at Nectar Lounge at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, 5550 NW 40th St., Coconut Creek. Cost is free. Call 954-977-6700, or visit seminolecoconutcreekcasino.com.