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Christmas with The Smithereens

The Smithereens

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Album Review

After an eight-year lay-off from the recording studio, the Smithereens released two albums in 2007. However, it doesn't bode well for their creative process that the first of those albums was comprised entirely of Beatles covers, and the second was a Christmas disc. However, Christmas with the Smithereens at least features three original tunes (which is three more than Meet the Smithereens!), and as rock & roll Christmas albums go, this is good fun and admirably eclectic. The Smithereens are pretty broad-minded when it comes to what constitutes a Yuletide melody, given the presence of "Christmas," a not especially seasonal tune from the Who's Tommy, and they dig up the Beatles rarity "Christmas Time Is Here Again," as well as cutting a version of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" that's a dead ringer for the Fab Four. Seasonal numbers from the Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, and the Ramones also make the set list, and you get a snappy spoken word rendition of "The Night Before Christmas" as well as some rollicking proto-surf boogie on "Auld Lang Syne." The big surprise here is that Pat DiNizio shares the vocal mic with his bandmates for a change, and if guitarist Jim Babjak and drummer Dennis Diken aren't quite up to DiNizio's standard as a singer, they fit their selections better than DiNizio's often-gloomy tone. Fans waiting for a "real" Smithereens album will apparently have to wait a bit longer, but Christmas with the Smithereens is more thoughtful and intriguing than the average tossed-together holiday offering, and the best moments are a clear reminder of what makes this band worthwhile.

Customer Reviews

Finally a GOOD X-Mas Album!

I caught Pat playing an acoustic set a couple of months ago in Chicago and he gave me the heads up on this Smithereens' project- it absolutely exceeds my expectations. The band itself is still dead on and (just as his live set indicated) the vocals are fantastic. The Christmas Music genre/category is starved of new releases that are worthy of purchase (in my opinion) and many bands lack the courage or talent to try to pull off an entire album. Single songs seem easy enough to find so if that's your pursuit go hunt them down. If, however, you're looking for a solid X-Mas album packed with standards, covers, and originals...look no further!

Rockin Christmas indeed!

The boys rock out on these tracks with some familar (including a nice cover from the Who's "Tommy" - not yet a Christmas standard) and not so familiar tracks. Highights include those Babjak licks, a bluesy cover of Chuck Berry's "Run Run Rudolph" and Drummer Dennis Diken comes out from behind the kit for some nice vocals. Any Smithereens fans or kids who might be looking for something more rockin' than the usual holiday fare available at your Walmart should jump on this. Only (fill in the blank) days left 'til Christmas so hurry!

An Essential Collection

How many times have we heard various takes on "Run, Run Rudolph"? The Smithereens breath fresh life into what has become a throw-away party classic. "Christmas" is a truly inspired choice - few remember this track from "Tommy" as a Holiday song. In other words, the unique harmonies of the Smithereens, combined with their quality musicianship, add up to a Holiday classic collection.

Biography

Formed: 1980 in Carteret, NJ

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Dressed in leather, brandishing heavy guitars, and exhibiting an unabashed fetish for British Invasion pop, the Smithereens were an anomaly in the American college rock scene of the late '80s. Lead singer/songwriter/guitarist Pat DiNizio stood out not only with his strange beatnik goatee, but also because his catchy hooks were haunting, not punchy, and because his lyrics were morose. As time wore on, the group became more straightforward, turning into an excellent bar band, one that attacked pop...
Full Bio