I was a teenager in 1979 when I first heard “My Sharona” on the radio, an AM station from San Antonio called KTSA (now a talk radio station). There was something about the song that lured me further into the world of power pop. Record stores didn’t exist in my corner of rural Texas, so I had to wait until the local store picked up Get the Knack for distribution. This album soon joined my first record collection, along with the Beatles, Cheap Trick, Sabbath, Kansas, and whatever else a teenage boy in 1979 was listening to.
The cover of Get the Knack was reminiscent of Meet the Beatles— four cool guys in black and white, the album distributed by Capitol, like the Beatles’ albums, but mostly the hype produced by the record company that the Knack were the next Beatles.
Maybe it was all the blow record company execs were doing at the end of the Disco Age that made them declare such a heresy. The public didn’t buy the hype. Even though the Knack was a great band in their own right, there was a huge backlash of “Knuke the Knack” campaigns. To make a long story short, this backlash pretty much quashed any chance of their second album achieving any success. After a third album, the Knack called it quits.
In the early 1990s, the Knack reunited (with new drummer Billy Ward) and recorded their comeback album, Serious Fun. Unfortunately, the new Knack failed to make a full comeback, even though Serious Fun is a very good album. The sound and songwriting is a bit more mature than the Knack’s first three albums. Don Was’ production updated their sound for the 1990’s. (Don Was is not only a successful producer, he also heads the group Was (Not Was), known for the hit, “Walk the Dinosaur.” )
Highlights of Serious Fun include the lead off track, “Rocket O’ Love,” “River of Sighs,” “Shine,” and the blistering “Doin’ the Dog.” This album is worth seeking out.
The Knack released two more studio albums, Zoom (1999), and Normal As the Next Guy (2001). Zoom was later re-released with bonus tracks as Re-Zoom in 2003.
Unfortunately, Doug Fieger encountered health problems. After years of his cancer in remission, it returned with a vengeance. As of this writing, sadly he is not expected to live much longer.
For those of us old enough to remember the Knack, put old prejudices aside from the 1970’s and 1980’s and re-visit their catalog. All of their albums have been re-issued on CD with bonus tracks. Admittedly, on the Knack albums there are a lot of misses, but discovering the hits is well worth the effort, particularly Get the Knack, their 1979 debut, and Serious Fun. I was an unapologetic Knack fan in 1979 and I’m still a fan today.