CD Review of Pat DiNizio by Pat DiNizio
Recommended if you like
Teenage Fanclub, The Byrds,
1960s pop
Pat DiNizio: Pat DiNizio

Reviewed by Mojo Flucke, PhD


he 52-year-old Smithereens lead singer's still taking his hacks, and like grizzled veteran pitchers Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling, his old 1960s-pop fastball ain't what it used to be. For instance, on the latest material there's nothing as punchy as the fierce "Tell Me When Did Things Go So Wrong" or "A Girl Like You." But to draw the baseball pitching metaphor even further, he's become a bit craftier with the breaking stuff and changeup, and can put together an acoustic ballad even sweeter (and more bitter) than classic teen-suicide anthems such as "Blood and Roses."

This record finds DiNizio in fine form, teaming up with Smithereens guitarist Jim Babjak, lending that signature garage sound to the whole enterprise, none more reassuring to old 'Reens fans than in the bad-ass rocker "Wonderful," although the perfect electric guitar tremolo crunch that opens the album on "Since You Went Away" sets the tone for the retro-‘60s garage-popfest about to commence. Fans waiting for nice acousto-electric melodies DiNizio hasn't explored since the playing and replaying and replaying of Green Thoughts will get a big fix with "Any Other Way," which I swear could have been an outtake or B-side from the seminal sessions that launched the New Jersey quartet from a regional alterna-band to the Billboard Hot 100. There's a fair amount of DiNizio sap, such as on the slow ballad "Love," which would never have made its way onto earlier records. Some killer, some filler.

The thing about DiNizio is this: You either love him or hate him because of his peculiar voice that can range from tenor to basso. For some music fans, it's kinda wimpy and un-rockerly. For others (full disclosure: I'm a card-carrying, trivia-contest-winning member of the Smithereens Fan Club) it's as rich and robust as a deep mug of dark Sumatra coffee, laden with heavy cream. Over the years, DiNizio's wrested control of his music and sound from the major-label machine, and has figured out how to direct the studio tech to produce him. Between the solo sections, the harmonies, the unison-singing effects, he paints on the sonic palette masterfully -- that is, if you like DiNizio. The haters will persist -- and they're out there. But chances are, if you've stuck by the Smithereens thus far, you'll love this record more than DINizio's--and the 'Reens--most recent output.

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