ARTIST: The Smithereens
TITLE: Especially for You
YEAR RELEASED: 1986
CHART ACTION: #51 US, #5 UK Indie
SINGLES: Blood and Roses (#14 Mainstream), Behind the Wall of Sleep (#23 Mainstream)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Strangers When We Meet, In a Lonely Place
LINEUP: Jim Babjak, Pat DiNizio, Dennis Diken, Mike Mesaros. Suzanne Vega duets on a track, and other studio musicians help now and then.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After a couple of EPs the Smithereens record an album totally influenced by the Beatles and 60’s British rock, yet original sounding.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: “Blood and Roses” seemed to be a go-to song for movie producers around 1986 and 1987, and that song got the Smithereens noticed and this album some commercial play. When people bought it, they were introduced to a band that could pull off writing 60’s style songs with a modern flair. It was magic.
Everything from the songs, the production, and the sequencing were nearly perfect. The tracks were all unique, and ranged from French-ballads, to melodic rock-and-roll, to lovelorn duets. The pacing of the album also makes it easy to listen to from front to back.
It was made for the vinyl age, as the band and Don Dixon understood the best sequencing for that medium. It’s one of the touchstone rock albums of the 80’s – a standout in the midst of hair metal and cool UK pretty boy dance music.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: They released two EPs before this album. One is so-so, but the second (Beauty and Sadness) should really be out there in full. Two tracks show up on a lot of compilations but they miss the sublime “Tracey’s World”
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. “White Castle Blues” was a bonus track on cassette and CD, and they added another bonus later.
GRADE: A+: I keep thinking of a track I’d leave off, and I can’t. Even “White Castle Blues” works as a coda to the perfect album ending track.