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The Smithereens

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 songs with the weight of AC/DC. A few hits followed, but the Smithereens seemed hopelessly out of date in the alternative rock explosion of the early '90s, and they quietly faded into a working cult band.

Of course, the Smithereens essentially started out as a working band. After playing in several cover bands, including a handful of prog rock and metal groups, DiNizio was inspired to form his own band after listening to Buddy Holly. Placing an advertisement in a New York paper for musicians influenced by Holly, Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, and the Clash, DiNizio eventually came into contact with New Jersey high-school students Dennis Diken (drums), Jim Babjak (guitar), and Mike Mesaros (bass), who had all played together in school. By the end of 1980, they had independently released Girls About Town, an EP featuring four songs with "girl" in the title that was a moderate local success. For the next three years, the group played around New Jersey and New York, not releasing another record until 1983's Beauty and Sadness. While the EP earned some play on college radio and received a positive review in Rolling Stone, they still had trouble gaining an audience, so they began supporting traveling oldies artists like Otis Blackwell, with whom they recorded an album's worth of material, and the Beau Brummels.

By 1985, the Smithereens were growing frustrated by their lack of progress, as most of the demos they sent to labels were ignored. They did send a demo to Enigma, where Scott Vanderbilt, a former college DJ who was a fan of the band several years earlier, signed the group. In 1986, the band released its debut album, the Don Dixon-produced Especially for You, to positive reviews. On the strength of college airplay, as well as MTV's airing of "Blood and Roses" -- a video financed by a film studio that included the song in the B-movie Dangerously Close -- the album became a moderate hit, climbing to number 51 on the charts and leading to a major-label contract with Capitol. The Smithereens supported the album with an extensive tour, and they recorded their second record weeks after they left the road.

Green Thoughts appeared early in 1988, and the first single, "Only a Memory," not only became a college and modern rock hit, but it crossed over to album rock stations as well. The Smithereens made their attempt for big-time album rock success with their third album, 11. Hiring producer Ed Stasium brought a heavier guitar sound, which made "A Girl Like You" -- a song rejected as the theme for the comedy Say Anything -- a Top 40 hit, sending 11 to gold status. "Too Much Passion," the first single from their fourth album, Blow Up, indicated that the new record was more adventurous and produced, and the single did become a Top 40 hit, yet the album itself failed to replicate the success of its predecessor.

Blow Up was their last album for Capitol, and they moved to RCA for 1994's A Date with the Smithereens, their first album since Green Thoughts to be produced by Don Dixon. By that time, the alternative and mainstream rock scenes had been heavily altered by grunge, which essentially left the band without an avenue for their records to be heard. The album bombed, but the Smithereens retained a sizable cult following that helped them tour successfully into the late '90s. In 1995, they released a pair of compilations, the hits package Blown to Smithereens and the rarities collection Attack of the Smithereens.

After a five-year recording hiatus, the group returned to the studio for 1999's God Save the Smithereens. Another series of compilations and live recordings appeared between 2000 and 2006, with Meet the Smithereens! arriving the following year along with a holiday album, Christmas with the Smithereens. Live in Concert! Greatest Hits and More, recorded at the Court Tavern in New Brunswick, NJ, appeared in 2008. Two tribute albums would follow, with B-Sides the Beatles arriving in 2008 and The Smithereens Play Tommy following in 2009. In 2011 they issued Smithereens 2011, their first album of original songs in 11 years. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: 2011

1. Sorry

2. One Look At You

3. A World Of Our Own

4. Keep On Running

5. Rings On Her Fingers

6. As Long As You Are Near Me

7. Bring Back The One I Love

8. Nobody Lives Forever

9. Goodnight Goodbye

10. All The Same

11. Viennese Hangover

12. Turn It Around

13. What Went Wrong


Track List: Tommy

1. Overture

2. It's A Boy

3. Amazing Journey

4. Sparks

5. Eyesight To The Blind

6. Christmas

7. Acid Queen

8. Pinball Wizard

9. Go To The Mirror

10. Tommy Can You Hear Me?

11. Sensation

12. I'm Free

13. We're Not Gonna Take It / See Me Feel Me


Track List: B-Sides The Beatles

1. Thank You Girl

2. There's A Place

3. I'll Get You

4. You Can't Do That

5. Ask Me Why

6. Cry For A Shadow

7. P.S. I Love You

8. I'm Happy Just To Dance With You

9. If I Fell

10. Slow Down

11. I Don't Want To Spoil The Party

12. Some Other Guy


Track List: Live In Concert - Greatest Hits And More

1. Behind The Wall Of Sleep

2. Drown In My Own Tears

3. Miles From Nowhere

4. Room Without A View

5. Only A Memory

6. House We Used To Live In

7. Spellbound

8. Since You Went Away

9. She's Got A Way

10. Yesterday Girl

11. Well Alright

12. Especially For You

13. Any Other Way

14. Top Of The Pops

15. Time And Time Again

16. Blood And Roses

17. A Girl Like You

18. Batman Theme


Track List: From Jersey It Came! The Smithereens Anthology

Disc 1

1. Girl About Town

2. Back To Balboa

3. Much Too Much

4. Beauty And Sadness

5. Blood And Roses

6. Strangers When We Meet

7. In A Lonely Place

8. Behind The Wall Of Sleep

9. White Castle Blues (Live)

10. Cigarette

11. Crazy Mixed-Up Kid

12. Time And Time Again

13. Something New

14. Only A Memory

15. If The Sun Doesn't Shine

16. Drown In My Own Tears

17. Especially For You

18. House We Used To Live In

19. Elaine (1990 Demo)

20. Elaine

21. One After 909

Disc 2

1. A Girl Like You

2. Blues Before And After

3. Blue Period

4. Yesterday Girl

5. Cut Flowers (Honeys Mix)

6. Baby Be Good

7. Now And Then

8. Too Much Passion

9. Tell Me When Did Things Go So Wrong

10. If You Want The Sun To Shine

11. Top Of The Pops

12. Evening Dress

13. Miles From Nowhere

15. Everything I Have Is Blue

16. She's Got A Way

17. Downbound Train

18. I Believe


Track List: God Save The Smithereens

Disc 1

1. She's Got A Way

2. House At The End Of The World

3. Everything Changes

4. Flowers In The Blood

5. The Long Loneliness

6. Someday

7. The Age Of Innocence

8. Gloomy Sunday

9. I Believe

10. All Revved Up

11. Even If I Never Get Back Home

12. Try

13. The Last Good Time

14. A World Apart Smithereens (Unreleased Demo)

15. This Is The Way The World Ends (Unreleased Demo)

16. King Of The World (Unreleased Demo)

17. Sundown (Unreleased Demo)

18. All Revved Up (Unreleased Demo)

19. On The Beach (Unreleased Demo)

20. House At The End OF The World (Unreleased Demo)

21. I Want To Tell You

Disc 2

1. Where Am I Going (Jennie's Song)

2. Nobody But Me

3. 124 Mph

4. Running, Jumping, Standing Still

5. Everyday World

6. No Love Lost

7. A World Apart

8. Today It's You

9. Liza

10. Somewhere Down The Line

11. You Should Know

12. I'd Rather Have The Blues

13. A Girl Like You (Live)

14. Yesterday Girl (Live)

15. Behind A Wall Of Sleep (Live)

16. Ahe's Got A Way (Live)

17. Blood And Roses (Live)

18. Someday Boy (Live)

19. Afternoon Tea (Live)


Track List: The Best Of The Smithereens

1. Strangers When We Meet

2. Only A Memory

3. A Girl Like You

4. Behind The Wall Of Sleep

5. Blood & Roses

6. Yesterday Girl

7. In A Lonely Place

8. Too Much Passion

9. Drown In My Own Tears

10. House We Used To Live In


Track List: Blown To Smithereens: Best Of The Smithereens

1. Beauty & Sadness

2. Strangers When We Meet

3. Blood & Roses

4. In A Lonely Place

5. Behind The Wall Of Sleep

6. Only A Memory

7. House We Used To Live In

8. Drown In My Own Tears

9. A Girl Like You

10. Blue Period

11. Blues Before & After

12. Yesterday Girl

13. Top Of The Pops

14. Too Much Passion

15. Miles From Nowhere

16. Time Won't Let Me


Track List: 11

1. A Girl Like You

2. Blues Before And After

3. Blue Period

4. Baby Be Good

5. Room Without A View

6. Yesterday Girl

7. Cut Flowers

8. William Wilson

9. Maria Elena

10. Kiss Your Tears Away


Track List: Green Thoughts

1. Only A Memory

2. House We Used To Live In

3. Something New

4. The World We Know

5. Especially For You

6. Drown In My Own Tears

7. Deep Black

8. Elaine

9. Spellbound

10. If The Sun Doesn't Shine

11. Green Thoughts


Track List: Especially For You

1. Strangers When We Met

2. Listen To Me Girl

3. Groovy Tuesday

4. Cigarette

5. I Don't Want To Lose You

6. Time And Time Again

7. Behind The Wall Of Sleep

8. In A Lonely Place

9. Blood And Roses

10. Crazy Mixed-Up Kid

11. Hand Of Glory

12. Alone At Midnight

13. White Castle Blues

14. Mr. Eliminator


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Had the pleasure of seeing them live in Manistee MI close to the town I live in. They put on a great show as always and all of them were so nice after the show. Jim and Dennis, sorry we interrupted your dinner before the show! Pat, you are a great song writer and I couldn't meet a nicer person. I hope your hand is on the mend now! Come back and see us in Michigan!!!
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That, surprisingly , is one of the more negative band write-ups on Pandora that I've seen. The Smithereens are great, and a much bigger success on progressive rock radio than this review gives them credit for. I see them every year when they come through town, and they are still very tight, unlike a lot of other bands of their vintage. And their Christmas album is one of the best of that genre, with some excellent original songs on it.
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Saw them at the Rat in Boston many years ago. The band partied with everyone at the bar upstairs after the show.
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Total favorite! Saw them at the Ritz in Detroit and they had the whole bar rocking. I still really enjoy their music.
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The Smithereens are one of my faves!! They ruled the 80s rock scene.They were the soundtrack for my friends and me during our party phase whenever we were in our early twenties!!Lo v e Pat, he's a doll!! Keep Rockin guys!!
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Worked a show at a place in Ocean City Md (scandals) 1988 or so . The smithereens played to a full house and did not disappoint ! Great memory!
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Power Pop at it's best!
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I watched them play at the Fargo Civic Center in 1988 (+/-) and it was FANTASTIC. Green Thoughts was almost always the kick-off record to our college house parties ca. 1990. Love 'em.
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These guys got good pop
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I'm going to see the Smithereens Jan 25 @ The State Theatre in Falls Church. Hope it's good !!!
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A little gentler than their norm , but very nice .
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One of my favorite bands...hand s down. They still rock live, too! First concert I brought my kids to see as well. Rock On Pat!
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They just don't make 'em like this anymore..... . . .
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Love them. Good memories....
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Smithereens are the exception to the rule that cover albums/gimmi c k s are a last resort when the band is untalented. They just did it cuz they could...
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When a band has to resort to gimmicks, it reveals the band is deficient in talent. Thumbs down
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Amazing band...first 4 albums rule, 2011 is great, and I need to see them live.
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Miles From Nowhere----- s u m s it up nicely. Smithereens- - - d e c e n t group of the times.
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Their new album 2011 has reminded me to dust off the old Smithereens collection. I spent A LOT of time listening to these guys during our college ('89-'92) house-party days. Green Thoughts was always a party-starte r for me!
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Babjak is one bad a** guitar player.
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THE SMITHEREENS just played a July 4th show in Frederick, Maryland (Washington D.C. area) - my first time seeing them. What a MASSIVE sound, so much chemistry, riffs, and ENERGY live! I visited the area from Florida, and sought this show out. NOT disappointed . The Smithereens did a (FREE!) meet & greet after the show, and signed my copy of 11 I brought (plus my new copy of the great 2011 I bought there). If you loved them on college radio in the 80s, The Smithereens are *still* great today!!
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Love this band. Pat is such a great songwriter.. . .
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The old 930 Club in dc is where I saw them back in the day.
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Just saw them Sunday night, Oct 9th at the Muskfest Cafe on the grounds of the revitalized Bethlehem Steel plant in Bethlehem Pa. They rocked the place down...peopl e jumping on stage to sing with the band. They stayed around after to chat with fans. Very genuine and friendly guys who know how to play danceable rock and roll.
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I saw them years ago at a little place on the East End of Long Island and loved them ever since. I totally dig the punchy bass riffs!
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Can't wait to see them in Chicago Tonight.
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Just a great,"worki n g class" band from Jersey !
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Saw Pat DiNizio do one of his "back yard jam sessions" near Yorkville, IL. at a friends house. // he's a really cool, personable dude who still has some good pipes on him! It was too cool to hear him jam in my buddies living room and tell his rock-n-roll stories... whoa!
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Sounds just like Elvis Costello singing. Love it!
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Wish they would get back together! Saw them live and the rocked! Have all of their music!
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Blown to Smithereens always survives the cut when I reduce my CD collection. These guys play solid music, no compromise.
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don't care what anybody says...these guys are "good times". Would fork out money any day to "drown my sorrows" with these dudes doin the honors.
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I really like this band, my 15yr old daughter cannot stand them however, can't figure these kids nowadays.
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They will be playing in Carteret New Jersey the first weekend of September for more information call 732-541-3801
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One of my favorite stations I have! I really dug this band in the 80's in college and Pandora has really revived some great memories.
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good band
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The Smithereens were my favorite band in the late 80s and 1990s. I saw them at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, Pa. in 1990. Unforgettabl e show. Now that I can listen to practically any music in the world on Pandora, Smithereens Radio is still one of my favorites. I realize my love of them was no passing fancy. Love DiNizio's lyrics and that he resembles Maynard G. Krebs. Has any noticed that many of his song titles are the names of 1950s films, especially romantic dramas?
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cheeseheadki t t y
Saw them at the WXRT Christmas Is For Kids charity concert at the Riviera theatre in 1991, they absolutely had the entire place in the palms of their hands, they were that good. One of the best, most high energy shows I have ever seen.
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Great college alt-rock band...reall y good stuff
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b**chin rock.....
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Saw 'em twice back in the '90's. Great band. Just straight ahead rock and catchy as hell hooks and riffs.
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The Smithereens are like your favorite pair of jeans. Day-in, day-out you depend on and enjoy them but somehow they go under appreciated. The accesability of straight-for w a r d early Rock & Roll riffs combined with a sub-pop, Brit invasion sensibility makes them one of my favorites. I don't always wear my favoite jeans, but when I do, I count on them being as comfortable as the Smithereens.
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Yes, Smithereens Saw them at a outdoor Knoxville Tn show. so much energy!Best alternative- p o p bands of the early 1990s
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the second cassette i ever bought...gre a t songs
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Smithereens have some great songs.
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They are incredible live to this day! See them if you can!
This description does not acknowledge two very ambitious Beatles tribute albums they've recently released . . .
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do they play in NJ...would love to see them
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Behind the Wall of Sleep is a flatout rock feast!
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