The Romantics – Playlist: The Very Best Of The Romantics (2011)

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It’s always interesting to hear how bands got their names, and in this case it’s simple and fitting. Formed on Valentine’s Day, in the year 1977 I may add, the Romantics certainly picked an appropriate moniker.

Donned in matching red suits, skinny ties, pointy boots and permed hair, the Detroit, Michigan-based band bore the image of a combo from an earlier era, most notably those natty British Invasion acts of the 60’s. But rather than merely emulate their heroes of yore, the Romantics sprinkled their songs with just enough contemporary twists to make a difference.

Visions of the Beatles, the Kinks and the Hollies regularly emerge in the music of the Romantics, but what allowed the band to rise above the bar was their ability to compose concrete tunes, constructed of melodies and arrangements oozing with vitality. The strength, balance and stamina of the songs featured on Playlist: The Very Best Of The Romantics can no way be denied.

Although the band still performs and records today, and are just as fantastic as they have always been, The Very Best concentrates on material they produced through the late 1970s and mid 1980s when they experienced mainstream success.

To be expected, the collection launches off with “What I Like About You,” which the majority of people recognize from TV commercials. Punctured with the howling whine of a bluesy harmonica and a rowdy rave up worthy of the Yardbirds, the jubilant floor shaker actually peaked at #49 on the charts in 1980.

Because of its wide exposure, it’s understandable most folks think “What I Like About You” is the band’s biggest selling record, but the award goes to “Talking In Your Sleep,” which reached No. 3 in 1983. The band’s final hit single, “One In A Million” climbed to No. 37 in 1984, and naturally joins “What I Like About You” and “Talking In Your Sleep” on the set.

Saturated with star-spangled guitars, cutting hooks and whopper harmonies, “When I Look In Your Eyes,” “A Night Like This,” “Girl Next Door,” “Tell it To Carrie,” “Keep In Touch,” “Do Me Anyway You Wanna” and “Tomboy” shine, dine and wine with spunky pop rock perfection. There’s not a musician in the world who wouldn’t sell their soul to write and play ear-pleasing ditties such as these.

The Romantics further had great taste in cover songs. Cool and saucy treatments of the Underdogs’ “Friday At The Hideout” and Richard and The Young Lions’ “Open Up Your Door” reveal their flair and finesse for vintage garage rock.

Bridging the gap between power pop and new wave, the Romantics bestowed a sound sizzling with clarity and immediacy. Their energy, which was fresh and inspiring, also suggested a bit of a punk edge. Absent of gimmicks and not concerned about trends, the Romantics stuck faithfully to the style of music they personally loved. There’s a real consistency to Playlist: The Very Best Of The Romantics, and the consistency rests on super catchy songs that pop and rock with honesty and enthusiasm.

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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