Beatle clone songs are a dime a dozen, but few and far between come as close to sounding like the real thing as “Lies” by the Knickerbockers. A full-throttle rocker, fashioned in the mode of “I Saw Her Standing There” and “A Hard Day’s Night,” the disc reached No. 20 on the national charts at the tail end of 1965 and fooled many a listener into thinking it actually was the latest offering from John, Paul, George and Ringo.
Not an overnight sensation as assumed, the Knickerbockers certainly paid their dues prior to assaulting the airwaves with the cool tune. By the time “Lies” arrived, the Bergenfield, New Jersey, band had been playing steady gigs for a few years and put out a couple of singles and a pair of albums.
Originally distributed by the Challenge label in 1966, Lies (Sundazed Records) not only duly features the champ cut of the same name, but plenty of equally stimulating songs flush with Anglophile fixings. A well-oiled machine, the Knickerbockers were flexible and diversified. So once the British Invasion took hold and completely altered the musical landscape, the band had no problem adapting to and embodying such a style with ease.
Powerful harmonies, supplemented by a super tight rhythm section shape “Just One Girl,” “Can’t You See I’m Tryin,’” “You’re A Bad Girl” and “I Can Do It Better,” leading these tunes to be picture perfect pop nuggets. A constant stream of pin-sharp hooks and clean, crisp arrangements further reward the songs with an immediate and direct appeal.
Smeared with soul aspirations, the head-bobbing “Please Don’t Fight It” posts as another highlight on Lies, while a cover of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” flourishes with dramatic orchestration.
The Knickerbockers went on to produce a series of comparably fine efforts, most notably the hard rocking Who-flavored furnishings of “One Track Mind” and “High On Love,” along with the psychedelic seasonings of “My Feet Are Off The Ground.” But “Lies” was to be their lone claim to widespread fame, which is a pity considering they were an incredibly hot band. Armed with rich and radiant vocals, the Knickerbockers also possessed impressive amounts of balance and mobility. To boot, the material they recorded was cleverly composed and wildly catchy.
Mirroring the best moments of the Swinging Blue Jeans, the Kinks, the Dave Clark Five and (of course) the Beatles, Lies is a jewel of a pop rock album, but exposes only a mere fraction of what the Knickerbockers laid down. The Sundazed label has reissued the band’s entire catalog, which according to these ears, are essential additions to any serious music fan’s collection.
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