The Smithereens posted Tuesday on their Facebook page that to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their breakthrough album Especially for You, which came out in 1986, they will perform it in its entirety at their concerts, starting in January. The music will be accompanied, they posted, “by a very special full-length film presentation that reflects the personal history of the band, the making of the album (and) the 1980s. The film will be shown onscreen/onstage as we perform the Especially for You album. Afterwards, as always, you will hear deep album tracks, greatest hits, and perhaps a new track of two from our forthcoming new studio album (summer 2016 release).”
Especially for You has always been a favorite album of mine, for sentimental as well as musical reasons. I had written a little about music before 1986, but that’s when I started doing it full-time, in New Jersey, and they were the big new Jersey group of the time. The first concert of theirs I saw was a show I reviewed at Obsessions in Randolph; it was kind of a homecoming show for them, at the end of their tour for Especially for You.
Especially for You is a fascinating album, for a lot of reasons; here are 10 things about it you might not know.
1. The album was a big influence on Nirvana, who famously had just one cassette in their van —with Especially for You on one side and heavy metal band Celtic Frost on the others — in the days directly before they recorded their debut album, Bleach.
2. Suzanne Vega, who dueted with Pat DiNizio on “In a Lonely Place,” recently sang it live with DiNizio for the first time, at his 60th birthday celebration at the Italian American Hall in his hometown of Scotch Plains.
3. The use of “Blood and Roses” in the movie “Dangerously Close” helped get the band some attention soon after the album’s release, and the song later turned up in the movies “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion” and “Under the Boardwalk,” as well as the hit TV show “Miami Vice.”
4. Another Especially for You song, “Time and Time Again,” appeared on the soundtrack of the 1987 movie, “I Was a Teenage Zombie.”
5. Marshall Crenshaw plays keyboards on “Strangers When We Meet” under the pseudonym, Jerome Jerome.
6. Steve Forbert co-wrote “Groovy Tuesday,” along with DiNizio and Marc Jonson.
7. Influential Village Voice critic Robert Christgau gave the album a tepid B-, calling the songwriting “only moderately hooky.”
8. In case you were wondering what it is like to have “hair like Jeannie Shrimpton, back in 1965,” as DiNizio sings in “Behind the Wall of Sleep,” here’s what it looks like:
9. “Behind the Wall of Sleep” shares its title with a 1970 Black Sabbath song; DiNizio saw Black Sabbath perform at Union Catholic High School in Scotch Plains in 1971.
10. The Smithereens’ 1986 concert dates included opening gigs for Lou Reed at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic and Radio City Music Hall in New York. Reed later played on The Smithereens’ 1994 album, A Date With The Smithereens, adding guitar solos to “Long Way Back Again” and “Point of No Return.”