Discover more from The Writings of T. Reilly
Doesn’t It All Come Down to Blood and Roses?
Especially for You by The Smithereens
Here we have yet another musical legend hailing from my home state of New Jersey. The Smithereens helped to define the 80s musical explosion that was Alternative music, or College Rock, that paved the way for so much of what we experienced from Alt Rock in the 90s. Officially described as Power Pop, the Smithereens wrote hard but catchy tunes that so accurately described the pain, angst and awkwardness of young love and infatuation.
Some of the members were friends since they were young kids. The band formed out of high school friendships, one of many legendary bands starting out this way, emphasizing the significance of that short and fragile time period in all of our lives when identities are often cemented for better or worse. According to New Jersey Stage, their first gig was a “high school variety show.” I am sure the audience could not have fathomed what would come after that performance.
Side note, I worked an all-day music festival in the early 2000s and organized a VIP unplugged event there that featured The Smithereens. I got to hang out with them for a half hour or so prior to the event and I will say it was the down-to-earth experience we all hope for from the musicians we respect.
Especially for You is their debut album and comes to us from 1986. The album features the songs Blood and Roses and Alone at Midnight, two staples of Power Pop. The album is on Enigma Records, famously responsible for several Alternative, Punk Rock and Heavy Metal legends. The indie label was eventually absorbed by one of the biggies.
Vinyl Notes readers know I am a collector of original release albums and that I get very excited when I find one that still has any of the extras that were part of that release still intact, from posters to decorative sleaves. This one still has the promotional inserts, which in 1986 meant a list of items you could order by gently cutting out the form at the bottom, filling it out, including an actual check with self-addressed envelope and stamp, and when mailed you would wait six weeks for your coveted item. Another side note, you will notice an Agent Orange skateboard on the order form. When I was 14 years old, I had a friend who had that skateboard (It is therapeutic to come to terms with one’s age).