Forming in Los Angeles in the late '70s, (Doug Fieger, vocals/guitar; Berton Averre, lead guitar; Prescott Niles, bass; and Bruce Gary, drums) were neither punk nor rock, but pure simple pop, standing out among the musical dross that littered the Sunset Strip. Signing with Capitol after a feeding frenzy of label offers, with its leadoff single, "My Sharona," the band climbed both the album and singles charts (eventually selling millions of copies around the globe), gained wide commercial acceptance, and regenerated the power pop scene that had laid dormant for half a decade. But the press... .....N'Joy
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Singer Doug Fieger was a native of Oak Park, Michigan, a northern suburb of Detroit, Michigan, and grew up in the 9 Mile/Coolidge area. The brother of attorney Geoffrey Fieger (later known for representing Dr. Jack Kevorkian in a series of assisted suicide cases) Fieger had previously played in an eclectic rock band called Sky as well as the Sunset Bombers. Although Sky had received a modest amount of acclaim, including being produced by Rolling Stones producer Jimmy Miller, the band broke up without having any chart success. As a result, Fieger made the decision to move to Los Angeles and start another band.
Fieger met the three other original members of the Knack in 1977 and 1978: Berton Averre (lead guitar, backing vocals and keyboards), Prescott Niles (bass), and Bruce Gary (drums). Niles was the last to join, a week before the band's first show in June 1978. In the meantime, Fieger had been doubling on bass on a series of demos that the group had shopped to several record labels, all of which were rejected. Some of these songs later made up the band's debut album Get the Knack, and included "Good Girls Don't".
Within months of their live debut, popular club gigs on the Sunset Strip, as well as guest jams with musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Ray Manzarek, led to the band being the subject of a record label bidding war. (Bruce Gary was well known in the LA session scene; this became a source for later tensions.) They ultimately signed to Capitol Records. The Knack – "My Sharona" (1979)
The band's debut album, Get the Knack, was one of the year's best-selling albums, holding the number one spot on Billboard magazine's album chart for five consecutive weeks and selling two million copies in the United States. The lead single, "My Sharona", was a No. 1 hit in the US, and became the number-one song of 1979. Follow-up single "Good Girls Don't" peaked at No. 11 in the US, and reached No. 1 in Canada.
However, the band's rise to the top of the charts also precipitated a backlash. Capitol's packaging of Get the Knack included a perceived cover likeness to Meet the Beatles!, with the record's center label being the same design and style as the Beatles' early 1960s LPs. Coupled with the band's "retro" 1960s look and pop/rock sound, the company's stylings led detractors to accuse them of being Beatles rip-offs, which the band and their record company denied. Nonetheless, this perception, and the perception that the object of some of the Knack's songs were teenaged girls, (subsequently acknowledged when the band were years older), quickly led to a "Knuke the Knack" campaign led by San Francisco artist Hugh Brown.
The follow-up albums (1980–81)
The Knack quickly recorded a follow-up album ...But the Little Girls Understand, which was released in early 1980. Though the album went gold in the US and Japan, and platinum in Canada, it didn't meet with the same level of commercial success as their debut. Fieger claimed in later interviews that all of the tracks for Get the Knack and ...But the Little Girls Understand were written before the first LP was recorded and were intended to be put out as a double album. Additionally, the lead single "Baby Talks Dirty" only briefly made the US Top 40, stalling at No. 38 (but reaching No. 13 in Canada); follow-up single "Can't Put a Price on Love" missed the top 40 altogether, peaking at No. 62.
After nearly a year of relentless touring in the US, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan, starting in April 1980 the band took a year off because of exhaustion and "internal dissent". They reconvened in the summer of 1981 to record their third album, Round Trip. However, the record (which came out in October 1981) was a serious commercial disappointment, only reaching No. 93 on the US charts, selling 150,000 copies. As well, lead single "Pay the Devil (Ooo, Baby, Ooo)" topped out at a mere No. 67 on the Billboard Hot 100. The group made several concert appearances during 1981 to promote Round Trip. Keyboardist Phil Jost was brought into the lineup at this time to enable the band to duplicate the more heavily layered sound of their new release.
With the Knack experiencing rapidly diminishing chart success, and mounting critical backlash against them Fieger left amidst internal squabbles on December 31, 1981, just months after the release of Round Trip. The band rehearsed briefly with Michael Des Barres as their new frontman in early 1982, but this line-up never gigged or recorded. By mid-1982, the Knack had splintered for good.
The Knack reunited in November 1986, to play a benefit for Michele Myers, who had been the first person to book the band for a show in 1978. They continued to play club gigs for the next several years. In July 1989, Billy Ward replaced Bruce Gary as the band's drummer .the Knack signed with Charisma Records and recorded the album Serious Fun which was released in February 1991. Lead single "Rocket O' Love" was a top 10 hit on US AOR stations (and a top 30 hit in Canada). To promote the song, they released a music video loaded with visual innuendo thematic to the song. Charisma collapsed after the death of the label's founder, Tony Stratton-Smith, and the group broke up again in 1992.
In 1994, with Ward back on drums, the band reunited to make some concert appearances to captilize on "My Sharona"'s new popularity after its appearance in the movie Reality Bites. In 1996, all four original band members, including Bruce Gary, reunited in the studio one last time to record a track for a multi-artist compilation album, saluting the British band Badfinger (where the band covered Badfinger's hit "No Matter What". The Knack continued as a touring and recording act through the late 1990s and into the 2000s.
In 2006, during a performance in Las Vegas, Fieger became disoriented, developing a dull headache, and grasping for the words to the songs that he had written and performed for years. Diagnosed with two brain tumors, Fieger underwent surgery and radiosurgery and returned to performing. However, he still continued to battle brain and lung cancer until his death on February 14, 2010, in Woodland Hills, California, at the age of 57.
In the interim between the Knack's break-up and 1986 reunion, Doug Fieger worked as a guest vocalist on a few tracks by Was (Not Was). (Fieger had grown up with band member Don Was; Was would later produce the Knack's album Serious Fun.) Fieger also recorded a solo album in 2000. Bruce Gary became a respected producer (archive recordings of Jimi Hendrix and new recordings of The Ventures) and a very successful sideman performing live and on studio sessions with artists such as Jack Bruce, Mick Taylor, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Cherie Currie, Robby Krieger, Spencer Davis, Stephen Stills, Rod Stewart, Emmett Chapman, and Sheryl Crow. Gary died from lymphoma on August 22, 2006 at the age of 55.
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The Knack attempted to update the Beatles sound for the new wave era on their debut -- a good idea that was well executed, but critics cried "foul" when millions sold after Capitol's pre-release hype (it went gold in 13 days and eventually sold five million copies, making it one of the most successful debuts in history). Get the Knack is at once sleazy, sexist, hook-filled, and endlessly catchy -- above all, it's a guilty pleasure and an exercise in simple fun. When is power pop legitimate anyway? Includes the unforgettable hits "My Sharona" and "Good Girls Don't."
The Knack - Get The Knack (flac 302mb)
01 Let Me Out 2:20
02 Your Number Or Your Name 2:57
03 Oh Tara 3:04
04 (She's So) Selfish 4:30
05 Maybe Tonight 4:00
06 Good Girls Don't 3:07
07 My Sharona 4:52
08 Heartbeat 2:11
09 Siamese Twins (The Monkey And Me) 3:25
10 Lucinda 4:00
11 That's What The Little Girls Do 2:41
12 Frustrated 3:51
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Mike Chapman summed it up best in the liner notes -- "The songs are an assortment of feelings and emotions expressed redundantly as only the Knack can...This record is very dear to me and my bank manager." The self-deprecating title (which quotes Willie Dixon's "Back Door Man") isn't really an attempt to apologize but rather to let everyone know that they were in on the joke all along -- and they're laughing all the way to the bank. This is essentially a rewrite of the debut, especially evident on the lead-off single "Baby Talks Dirty." It's not as good as Get the Knack and didn't sell nearly as well, but it is a good time for those who don't take rock & roll too seriously.
The Knack - But The Little Girls Understand (flac 202mb)
01 Baby Talks Dirty 3:46
02 I Want Ya 2:40
03 Tell Me You're Mine 3:54
04 Mr. Handleman 3:23
05 Can't Put A Price On Love 4:43
06 Hold On Tight And Don't Let Go 1:31
07 The Hard Way 2:13
08 It's You 2:09
09 End Of The Game 2:03
10 The Feeling I Get 3:11
11 (Havin' A) Rave Up 1:46
12 How Can Love Hurt So Much 3:50
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It must suck to be the Knack. First off, there was the huge unexpected success of their debut album, Get the Knack, followed almost immediately by the equally unexpected career-damaging "Knuke the Knack" underground campaign. If that wasn't bad enough, their superior sophomore release, ...But the Little Girls Understand, was universally and unfairly dismissed as an inferior rehash of the debut. After such a tumultuous two-year roller coaster ride, the boys in the Knack took a well-deserved breather. When their third album, Round Trip, emerged in 1981, Doug Fieger and the boys in the Knack had matured ten-fold and had created their best album to date. Produced by Jack Douglas, Round Trip had more musical layers than any Knack album before (or since). "Just Wait and See," "Radiating Love," "Boys Go Crazy," and "She Likes the Beat" were instant Knack classics, but with more skin and bone. "Lil' Cal's Big Mistake" could've been an unreleased Blood, Sweat & Tears track. "Africa" was Weather Report on pop-flavored steroids. "We Are Waiting" and "Sweet Dreams" sound like outtakes from the last John Lennon sessions (Douglas produced Double Fantasy). Two of the Knack's best tracks are here, and both are worth the price of admission alone. "Pay the Devil (Ooo, Baby, Ooo)" is a beautifully haunting ballad while "Another Lousy Day in Paradise" is the Knack's entire musical essence squeezed into one three-minute pop song. Brilliant. A few weeks after this brilliant album was released (to poor reviews, it should be said), the Knack split up. While they were at their creative high, they were at their commercial and critical low. Again, it must suck to be the Knack.
The Knack - Round Trip (flac 465mb)
01 Radiating Love 3:59
02 Soul Kissin 3:35
03 Africa 4:51
04 She Likes The Beat 2:57
05 Just Wait And See 3:00
06 We Are Waiting 4:21
07 Boys Go Crazy 3:47
08 Lil' Cals Big Mistake 3:47
09 Sweet Dreams 3:28
10 Another Lousy Day In Paradise 3:39
11 Pay The Devil 3:59
12 Art War 3:45
Previously Unreleased Bonus Tracks
13 Go Away, Stay Away 3:32
14 Lil' Cals Big Mistake (Live) 4:00
15 Art War (Alternate Mix) 3:47
16 On The Beach (Rehersal Recording) 6:06
17 Pay The Devil (Ooo, Baby, Ooo) (Songwriting Demo / Alternate Version) 4:40
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