Hi-Ho Blogger! The Rare Stuff rides again! To kick things back off in style, here's an album it's unreasonably hard to find online -- the third long-player from Hoboken's favorite sons, The Smithereens. It's called 11 because the band hired producer Ed Stasium to beef up their sound, which prior to that had been a bit indie-flimsy. As the liner notes say, a la Spinal Tap, "this one goes to eleven..."
This is, without a doubt, my favorite Smithereens album. Though they most certainly rock, the heavier first two numbers, which most show Stasium's influence, are not my favorite tracks of the bunch. But once the lovely, baroque strings of "Blue Period" kick in, I'm along for the ride. Pat DiNizio's and Belinda Carlisle's harmonies on that number are also exquisite. "Baby Be Good" and "Yesterday's Girl" are sweet, smart pop songs, and "Room Without a View" has the undercurrent of tension of classic, earlier Smithereens cuts like "Blood and Roses" and "Behind the Wall of Sleep". "Cut Flowers" is an adventurously structured and arranged short story in song. Speaking of short stories, "William Wilson" takes its name and paranoid atmosphere from the Poe tale of the same name. The thoroughly delightful "Maria Elena", meanwhile takes its name from Buddy Holly's widow. Closer "Kiss Your Tears Away" is an heart-tugging romantic ballad. The whole thing clocks in at an economical 34 minutes, just like the perfect '60s pop album.
The Smithereens' catalog is long overdue for a rehaul. If and when this fine collection is reissued, you'll wanna dump these tracks and upgrade. Meanwhile, though, this late-'80s power-pop high point deserves to be heard.
UPDATE 12/27/10: Link removed due to new information that this album is available for purchase at the Amazon MP3 Store, HERE.