Monday, April 10, 2017

The Knack - 2007 - Time Time Time

The Knack 
Time Time Time

01. Who'll Be The Next In Line?
02. She Ain't No Good
03. It's Love Baby (24 Hours A Day)
04. Time Time Time
05. Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?
06. Red Hearts
07. Stop!
08. Younger Girl
09. Save All My Love For Joey
10. Take Your Love
11. (Man From The) Marriage Guidance And Advice Bureau
12. Dolly Catcher Man
13. Lights On The Wall
14. Back In The USA
15. That's My Desire
16. Bring It On Home To Me

Paul Curtis [Paul Gurvitz] (guitar)
Brian Parrish (guitar, 1965-66)
Mick Palmer (bass, 1965-66)
Graham "Topper" Clay (drums, 1965-66)
Gearie Kenworthy (bass, 1966-67)
Louie Farrell (drums, 1966-67)
Tim Mycroft (keyboards, 1966-67)

Taking their name from Richard Lester's swinging London classic The Knack and How to Get It and their sound from the Kinks, the Knack captured a certain vibe from mid-'60s Britain -- which isn't quite the same thing as making an impact at the time. One of the charms of the Knack is that they were so of their time that they don't quite transcend their time, yet they evoke it, which is why Time Time Time: The Complete UK Singles (And More) 1965-1967 is enjoyable even if it isn't quite memorable. What's striking is indeed how much they sound like the Kinks circa Something Else; unlike the equally Kinks-obsessed Turquoise, who delved deeply into The Village Green, there aren't many signs of wry whimsy here -- there's nothing but lean, hard-hitting, hooky pop. Which isn't to say that the Knack only reworked the driving rock & roll of "Who'll Be the Next in Line?," the Ray Davies song they covered and which opens this collection. They could branch out, as on the terrific "Time Time Time," which glides along on swirling guitars and harmonies, a piece of pure '60s pop that still can thrill. They rarely reached this height, but they did nice covers of the Lovin' Spoonful (both "Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?," which they pumped up with fuzz-toned guitar, and "Younger Girl"); "Save All My Love for Joey" is a pretty nice slice of soft, string-laced pop; "Take Your Love" is bright, crystalline pop; "(Man from The) Marriage Guidance and Advice Bureau" plays as if the Hollies tried to write a Dylan song instead of just singing them; and Paul Gurvitz's pair of originals, "Dolly Catcher Man" and "Lights on the Wall," are very good, propulsive British psychedelic pop, suggesting the potential of Gurvitz as a songwriter. These moments are a little fleeting on Time Time Time, as they're surrounded by perfectly fine but mildly forgettable period pieces, but they're the reason for '60s collectors to check out this likable band.

In well over 40 years in the music business, Paul Gurvitz has done practically everything connected to fame except achieve it himself. He’s produced hit makers like Jodi Watley and the Fat Boys. As a musician, he and brother Adrian played in Ginger Baker’s most highly regarded post-Cream project, the Baker-Gurvitz Army, not to mention on two solo albums by Moody Blues drummer Graeme Edge. The Gurvitz brothers were also the driving force behind two of the most renowned late ‘60s/early ‘70s hard rock obscurities, Gun and the Three Man Army.

Gun, in fact, had a sizable UK hit in 1968 with “Race With the Devil”, which has since been covered by Houston Fearless, Black Oak Arkansas, Judas Priest, and Girlschool, among others. And before they were Gun, they were the Knack.

Not to be confused with the “My Sharona” guys on Capitol, the mid-‘60s California band that also recorded for Capitol, or even the ‘60s Argentinean beat combo known as the Knacks, this Knack hailed from Britain and started life as the Londoners in 1965, debuting with a rather ordinary single pairing covers of Elvis Presley’s “That’s My Desire” and Sam Cooke’s “Bring It on Home to Me” while playing an extended engagement at the legendary Star Club in Hamburg, Germany.

Renaming themselves the Knack after a Richard Lester movie upon returning to the UK the same year marked a turning point for the band, who went on to record six mostly solid singles over the next two years.

The a-side of the first was a gritty cover of the Kinks’ “Who’ll Be the Next in Line”, but the real excitement was on the flip, a stellar cover of the Clique’s “She Ain’t No Good” with strong Beatlesque harmonies. The Clique, incidentally, were not the US band who had hits later in the decade, but an obscure British beat band—though that obscurity didn’t prevent the Knack from covering yet another Clique song on their next single, “Time Time Time”, which was done as adeptly as the previous outing. The a-side, a beat remake of Hank Ballard and the Midnighters’ “It’s Love Baby (24 Hours a Day)”, was almost as good, featuring a brief-but-nifty guitar solo (presumably by Gurvitz).

Unfortunately, the quality of the first two releases didn’t translate into sales, and the band was dropped by Decca—leading to four singles of varying quality for Piccadilly. Their commercial desperation manifested in passable but ordinary covers of two Lovin’ Spoonful hits, “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?” and “Younger Girl”, and a lament of unknown origin called “Red Hearts”, but their quest also produced a first-rate harmony pop tune in “Save All My Love for Joey” (Joey being a girl). The buoyant beat of “Stop!” was also worthy, if perhaps out of date in the changing musical environment of 1966, a description that also fits their final single from 1967,  “(Man from the) Marriage Guidance and Advice Bureau” backed with the band’s only released original, Gurvitz’s “Dolly Catcher Man”. Both the acoustic Rubber Soul-like pop of the a-side and the dreamy pop of the flip showed maturity, but with the rest of the UK dropping acid and/or plugging into fuzzboxes, it was hopelessly anachronistic, and being on a faltering label didn’t help.

The Knack, however, did branch into psychedelia on Gurvitz’s excellent (and previously unreleased) “Lights on the Wall”, a huge step forward from 1967 that signaled a new direction for the band. But with membership shuffling that ultimately brought in Adrian Gurvitz on guitar and Louis Farrell on drums as Paul switched to bass, that direction would be taken up by the rechristened Gun, not the Knack.

Gun were indeed the better of the two bands, but the Knack’s Time Time Time compilation is worth a listen for anyone seeking to dig deeper into British beat.

Really great compilation! Find it!

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