One Track Mind: The Romantics – “Little White Lies / I Can’t Tell You Anything” (1977)

Detroit, Michigan has forever been known for its great music, and the Romantics are just one of many special bands born in the city.

Released at a time when both punk rock and power pop music were threatening to kill off old guard acts such as the Rolling Stones, the Who, Yes and Pink Floyd, this single (Spider Records) attracted the attention of those hungry for new blood. Although the disc didn’t net a whole lot of commercial success, it raised the profile of the Romantics high enough to open doors for bigger and better things.

Caked with jittery rhythms, clacking guitars and chirping choruses, “Little White Lies,” which marked the band’s debut effort, proved to be the perfect balance between punk rock and power pop. The energy was raw and feral, but the Romantics were masters of melody, causing the song to contain plenty of radio-informed elements to make it fully accessible.

Sounding like a dream team consisting of Bo Diddley, the Yardbirds and the Hollies, “I Can’t Tell You Anything” ingeniously integrates pounding beats with snorting harmonica fills and glistening harmonies. Acknowledging the past without apology, but adding freshness to the file, the tasty tune simultaneously touched base on the blues, garage rock and traditional pop structures.

The Romantics eventually reached the masses in a big way, and did so by not having to really change their style. “What I Like About You,” “Talking In Your Sleep” and “One In A Million” were the band’s songs that accumulated the heaviest airplay. Their albums are worth tracking down as well. Still a favorite of the pop crowd, the Romantics have done a fine job maintaining their integrity after all these years.

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Beverly Paterson

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