Normal As the Next Guy Import
You just can't keep a good rock band down--or the Knack, for that matter. Depending on who's keeping score, this release marks either the third or fourth comeback attempt for the band whose debut album (and its inescapable hit, "My Sharona") did for L.A. new wave and power pop what Velveeta did for cheese. While Kurt Cobain once compared his Nirvana favorably with the Knack (ironically, we hope), he couldn't have meant the tired, nostalgia-besotted outfit displayed on this 2001 release. At least give Doug Fieger and company credit for realizing they can no longer pull off the leering subject matter that was once their stock in trade; unfortunately, they've also trashed most of their once enviable pop-savvy in the bargain. What's left is third-rate R&B � la Joe Walsh ("Les Girls"), faux-edginess (the title track, but bonus points for rhyming "Chris Rock" with "Jacques Chirac"), country caricature ("Spiritual Pursuit"), even some Steely Dan jazz-pop pretensions ("Dance of Romance"). While Fieger's sweet voice still ably carries the midtempo numbers, it's all too telling that the album's most accomplished track is guitarist Berton Averre's slavish Beach Boys/Brian Wilson tribute, "The Man on the Beach." Riding the coattails of "My Sharona"'s enduring appeal (and repeated soundtrack appearances), the Knack seems unable to discern the difference between the truly timeless and the cheaply sentimental. --Jerry McCulley
Personally, I rediscovered The Knack in the mid-2000's. I was originally on board a long time ago having bought `Get The Knack' right out of the gate and loving it back in '79. But it was fits and starts and missteps for the band thereafter. They released their third album, then broke up two months later. Must be a lousy album I thought...(fooled - it's good). They roared back to life in '89 with a song called `Rocket Of Love' but quickly disappeared when the record company shelved that album. Then I saw The Knack live in the mid-2000s. My expectations were tepid. I was fooled again, they were great! I purchased `Re-Zoom' (a rereleased version of `Zoom') and loved it. Little by little I filled in my collection of past Knack items. Albums I had written off long ago and DVDs I had never even heard about. Each time I was pleased, though the production value on a DVD called `Live At The Rock `N Roll Funhouse' was not perfect. So why did I wait until now to buy `Normal As The Next Guy'? Seeing The Knack live twice, they never played any songs from `Normal As The Next Guy'. Must be a lousy album I thought. So I dogged it, and now with Doug Fieger's passing I bought the album just to round out my collection. Fooled again! This is a great effort. Viva Les Knack!