From the moment I got up this morning, my head ringing and ears smoldering like I had been to a thrash metal concert, but it was only because, against my better judgement, I watched the stupid Presidential debate (Thank God SNL is back on again this coming weekend!). When I was taught debate in junior high and high school, I always had to back up my assertions with FACTS. I was great at using hyperbole and conjecture, but rarely had facts to back them up. But, once I learned that aspect of debating, I became a decent debater. The only problem is I no longer enjoy debating because people now can find any source to reinforce their conjecture and hyperbole, without utilizing critical thinking about that internet source.
Oh well, so I thought I would enjoy a day of listening to old ’70s Stevie Wonder albums, just to reset my faith in mankind. Then, I was going to blog all of these wonderful memories about Stevie’s music in my young life. But, I finally picked up my copy of the great Ken Sharp’s latest volume in his series about Power Pop artists/heroes. The series is called Play On! Power Pop Heroes, Volume 3. The first chapter is all about the great Detroit power pop band, The Romantics. So, I had a musical change. And, let me just say this: how did this album not become a hit? It is every bit as good as The Knack’s debut album. I don’t get it. Just because some New York critics didn’t like the Knack’s homage to the Beatles, then we have to “Knuke the Knack”? When that happened, ALL power pop artists seemed to get written off. What a shame!
Everyone knows the big song on this album, “What I Like About You”. For all four years of college, I heard the song at seemingly every party. Yet, the song never hit the Top 40 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles Chart. If there is a perfect song out there, this one may be it. It’s fun, it’s fast, it’s the whole teen experience packaged in a 3-minute pop song. To this day, it makes me want to pick up my air guitar and pogo around the room, though my body won’t let me because of my age.
But, what you may not know is that the Romantics’ self-titled debut album is a power pop dream. Where The Knack attacked their sound from The Beatles side, and Cheap Trick attacked it from The Who’s and The Move’s side of thing, The Romantics conjured up a sound that relied mainly on The Kinks, who, ironically, were experiencing something of a comeback during the power pop heyday of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Now, The Romantics did not ignore The Beatles, but they weren’t afraid to conjure up the Dave Clark 5, as well. And, then you have to factor in that toughness in sound that all artists from Detroit have, from Motown through the Stooges and MC5 up to The Romantics.
Like I said, this album was a fun party album. I remember one particular party that was taking place in my dorm room, when I put this album on. Somehow, we had 50 or so people sardine-canned in our room. But, when the first strains of “When I Look in Your Eyes” came blaring out of my stereo speakers, the room door opened and the dancing spilled out into the hall. Needless to say, that party got broken up for a half hour. Then, when I put “What I Like About You” on, the party restarted and chaos ensued the rest of the night.
So, I would like to thank The Romantics for that fun dorm room party, which I do NOT recommend having that many people in a dorm room at one time. And, I gotta give up to The Romantics for resetting my attitude today. I knew I was going to play some Detroit music today, I just didn’t expect it to be this wonderfully overlooked power pop quartet from Hitsville, USA.
2 thoughts on “I Wish I Was One Of The Romantics!”
I loved the album In Heat – many great songs on that one! I got to see The Romantics play at my college in the late 1980s and it was an unforgettable experience. So glad Wally Palmar is still doing his thing, and in the Empty Hearts, too. Thanks for the memories; I’m going to dig up my cassette and see if it has any play left.
Like I said, The Romantics are simply a tragically underrated band. As much as I love The Knack, I feel The Romantics were the better band. Rock history is strange like that.
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