Imagine, if you will, a beach trip to Topsail Island NC in summer of 1986. Hair metal was picking up speed, and blared out of most of the boom boxes. I can’t recall the call letters, but Willmington had a kick ass rock station that played the shit out of songs I didn’t hear on my radio back in Bumfuck, KY. One fateful day, a darker, bass driven glory of a song played. They didn’t announce the band name, so I called the station and hummed a few bars. After humiliating laughter from the other end, the DJ humored me and told me what my brain desperately sought to know. That very evening I got the cassette single of the song: “Blood and Roses” by The Smithereens. To that point I’d never heard of them, but my fragile little mind has exploded. They were never of my playlists ever again. After 30 years (EEK), The Smithereens still remain there.
The Smithereens formed in Carteret NJ, in 1980. Pat DiNizio (vocals & guitar), Jim Babjak (guitar & vocals), Mike Mesaros (bass guitar & vocals), and Dennis Diken (drums & percussion) were the original lineup until 2006, when Mesaros left and Severo Jornacion joined on bass guitar. Their first hit was the aforementioned “Blood and Roses” from the album ‘Especially For You’ in 1986. Their other career hit songs include:
“Behind the Wall of Sleep”
“Only A Memory”
“A Girl Like You ”
“Too Much Passion”
The band received moderate success but never went huge primarily because the tag happy music industry of the time just couldn’t pin them down to a genre. Their original sound and complex lyrics weren’t Hair Metal, and they were unlucky in that they had their big success before Grunge, where the band would have fit better. Pat DiNizio’s vocals are as distinctive now as they were innovative then, with a unmatched timbre. Mike Mesaros’ made his bass almost a lead instrument in it’s intricacy. Their songwriting was so vivid and visual that The Smithereens’ songs featured in several movies of the era. The songs stand up to time magnificently, and still sound as fresh to the ear as when they were released. They deserve appreciation from a modern audience.
*Especially for You ,1986 (Enigma/Capitol) *Green Thoughts, 1988 (Enigma/Capitol)
*11, 1989 (Enigma/Capitol)
*Blow Up, 1991 (Capitol)
*A Date with The Smithereens, 1994 (BMG/Excelsior)
*God Save The Smithereens, 1999 (Velvel/Koch Entertainment)
*Meet The Smithereens!, 2007 (Koch) (A tribute to The Beatles, covering the entire Meet The Beatles! album)
*Christmas with The Smithereens, 2007 (Koch) includes three original seasonal songs.
*B-Sides The Beatles, 2008 (Koch) (covers of Beatles B-sides)
*The Smithereens Play Tommy, 2009
*2011, (eOne Music)
*courtesy of Wikipedia*
The Smithereens are still a touring act, with the original members reforming to do shows in 2017. All their music can be found on all streaming sites and online music stores.