"She had hair like Jeannie Shrimpton back in 1965.
She had legs that never ended, I was halfway paralyzed.
She was tall and cool and pretty and she dressed as black as coal.
If she'd ask me to I'd murder I would gladly lose my soul."
It was some twenty years after 1965 and I was in Soho sitting in my cousin Larry's car listening to summer radio circa 1986. The music was coming from iconic New York City radio station WNEW-FM. As D.J. Dennis Elsas segued into a new song, the lyrics above were accompanied by what, at that three minute and twenty four second moment in time, was one of the most powerful opening guitar riffs I had heard since "I Want To Hold Your Hand."
Later I learned the riff was courtesy of "Behind The Wall of Sleep" by The Smithereens and guitarist Jim Babjak, who plugged his Rickenbacker into a Marshall stack rather than a Vox AC-30 to create guitar crunch heaven.
Another 20 years later, my passion for The Smithereens is refueled with major twists and shouts on Meet The Smithereens, a track for track re-creation of Meet The Beatles (on Koch Records). Before you say, "Oh my god, who needs more Beatles covers?" here's what Pat Dinizio (a founding member of the band) told me about the project in a recent interview, "Meet The Smithereens is our affectionate tribute to one of the greatest records of all time, one that was only heard in America, and truly launched Beatlemania in the U.S. It was also the first Beatles album to feature almost all original songs (except one)."
So, what exactly did the Smithereens add to this iconic recording? According to Dinizio "I thought about that a long time, and decided it would be neat to sing the first verse as close to the phrasing of the original songs as I could, then the rest of each lyric in the signature Smithereens sound, which is highly appropriate because many of our songs truly were a tribute to the bands we loved when we were growing up in New Jersey."
Give Meet The Smithereens a spin and see through the eyes of a very passionate band why The Beatles really were that incredible. What could be more appropriate for the end of the feud between Apple Computer and Apple Corps? Perhaps now they'll finally remaster The Beatles' albums so we can really hear all that is there.
The Smithereens will be appearing on Saturday, February 17th and Sunday February 18th, 2007 at the Red Devil Lounge, 1695 Polk Street, San Francisco. The Saturday show is sold out. According to Pat Dinizio, they will perform songs from Meet The Smithereens as well as our greatest hits album tracks and covers.
An interview and live session by The Smithereens will air on Dennis "The Menace" Scheyer's radio show Just Another Menace Sunday Sunday, February 25, 2007 at 4pm on 90.3 KUSF. To listen online visit KUSF (at live365.com).