Especially For You

The Smithereens

Capitol Records, 1986

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/15/2017

The Smithereens’ Especially For You was released March 1, 1986. I was a senior in high school, a misfit at a small Catholic college prep school in north-central Illinois.

I couldn’t tell you when or why I actually bought the CD. I assume at some point I heard “Behind The Wall Of Sleep” – either on MTV at my grandparents’ or on WBNQ out of Bloomington, IL (which we could only get in sometimes). Gods know where I tracked it down in the pre-Amazon era.

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I was not a three-chord garage rock fan; anyone who remembers my writing from the early days of the DV knows that my music tastes run more towards Alan Parsons and Duncan Sheik. But there was something about Pat DiNizio’s voice – haunting, rich, and sad – that drew me in where Michael Stipe and Paul Westerberg had failed.

Pat DiNizio died yesterday, suddenly, at the age of 62.

I turn 50 this February. A lot of my personal musical icons are starting to die. David Bowie is gone. Eric Woolfson of the Alan Parsons Project died in 2009. And I have to acknowledge that the older I get, the more deaths I’m going to face.

For some reason, though, DiNizio’s death has affected me deeply. Maybe it’s because he could emote incredibly well; when he sang a sad song, you felt the tragedy behind it – and that has reminded me of the tragedies we go through every day of losing people we love. “Blood And Roses”, from Especially For You, is a gut-twisting three and a half minutes of breakup, and “Behind The Wall Of Sleep” is a frightening look into a stalker fan’s mind. “Cigarette” is a frozen snapshot of the moment before the end. “In A Lonely Place” is a bitter duet of loss. Never once do the Smithereens go into excess or bombast; they remain on Especially For You tight, clean, and masters of elegant songwriting. And when you consider this was their debut full-length CD, well… I consider them to be one of the great underappreciated American rock bands, and DiNizio one of the most expressive rock vocalists of the last thirty years.

I’m afraid, with Pat DiNizio and The Smithereens, we don’t know what we had…and as time continues its inexorable march, we will lose more artists that have received too little credit, too little appreciation, and too little acclaim. Especially For You was the beginning of an outstanding career, and is definitely worth checking out.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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