We all know why rock groups emerge from retirement. It's the same reason faded boxers step back into the ring long after the bell has tolled for them: the smell of money. But when one-or two-hit wonders like the Knack (y'all recall 1979's "My Sharona" and a few of you may remember "Good Girls Don't") start staging comebacks, you know this tendency has gotten out of hand.
Serious Fun isn't as pathetic as one might have anticipated. Then again the group, led by singer Doug Fieger, certainly hasn't improved in the decade since they broke up.
First the good news: There's one palatable piece of ear candy here, "Rocket o' Love." While the words are asinine ("Shotgun, shing-a-ling/ One, two, one two three, hey!!"), it's a hearty, knee-knocking rocker Billy Squier might like to call his own. That also applies to "I Want Love," with its swashbuckling beat and nifty chorus.
Both feature penetrating guitar solos from Berton Averre, whose ability to find a molten core within even drab songs is the most impressive facet of this record.
Sought-after producer Don Was (Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan) provides a clean, airy, yet punchy style to the proceedings. But the rock edge Was has fashioned for the Knack simply doesn't work on some selections—for instance, the absolutely droopy pop of the title track. Yet Was manages to keep the music sounding respectable even when the material completely deserts him.
Slim pickings? That should sound familiar to anyone who knows the group's previous work. Still, this comeback record does change things. The footnote to rock history that is the Knack now must have another line accorded to it acknowledging the fact that, much later, they returned to the scene of the crime. (Charisma)