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The Smithereens

If you ask around the music industry, you won't find anyone who doesn't love the Smithereens.

If you ask around the music industry, you won’t find anyone who doesn’t love the Smithereens.

So why can’t the band sell one album apiece to the millions of people who love them?

The Smithereens continue to be one of the great record company hopes, based on the songwriting skills of Pat DiNizio, arguably one of pop’s best craftsmen. The band churns out an endless number of radio-friendly classics, many of which get enormous airplay. Yet that never seems to translate at the record counter.

RCA Records, still looking to establish itself on the rock front, has made the Smithereens a priority following the band’s departure from Capitol Records. But “A Date With the Smithereens” is off to a slow sales start.

A capacity crowd at the House of Blues sang loudly along on all of the band’s greatest hits and even joined the instantly catchy new ones at times, a phenomenon that few songwriters can create.

The Smithereens give the impression that it’s so easy, anyone can do it — until we see the clumsy attempts of bands attempting to imitate the pop-rock style, as Epic’s the Grays tried to do in their opening set, where they managed to barely graze a groove in their feedback-filled set.

DiNizio, dressed gangsta style for his House of Blues appearance, continues to explore turf unfamiliar to most current songwriters. Few contemporary acts would dare include two three-quarter-time waltzes in their set, asthe Smithereens did with “Afternoon Tea” and “Cigarette,” particularly compelling moments in the show.

Set highlights included the band’s classics “Blood and Roses,””A Girl Like You” and “Behind the Wall of Sleep.”

The Kinks’ Dave Davies joined the Smithereens for the first of three encores, throwing a change-up at the crowd with the countryfied “Death of a Clown.”

The Smithereens

(House of Blues, W. Hollywood; 1,000 capacity; $ 17.50 top)

Production: Promoted by club. Musicians: Pat DiNizio (guitar), Dennis Diken (drums), Jim Babjak (guitar), Mark Mesaros (bass). Reviewed June 19, 1994.

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