In these depressive and indifferent times, we should remember a time when the magical genre of Power pop held the airwaves--as well as the critics' ears.
The Knack's Get the Knack, released in 1979, had nothing to do with the music of another band called the Knack, which had four singles, also on Capitol, back in '67-'68. 79's Knack was not an echo. The Knack certainly borrowed their name from Richard Lester's film, The Knack...and How to Get It, which he directed between working with the Beatles on A Hard Day's Night and Help!. But the Knack did not share the mod kookiness of Lester's film.
The Knack had TEEN SCREAM written all over their PhisoHex-scrubbed mugs. Listening to the Knack made me feel younger than the audience at which it is aimed. The reason for this is that during my teen years carnal knowledge was not obtained through the AM/FM: all formulaic pop records (especially those great sons of Jerry, Gary Lewis & the Playboys) were presumed to contain a subtext of sexual innocence.
Get the Knack, however, was a sexual tease, exactly what polished pop music needed then. 'My Sharona', their Top 40 smash, is what kids would play on their car 8-tracks as they licked each others' inner thighs. That Power pop could provoke a kind of sexual tension gave it a certain oomph--beyond Beatlesque nostalgia.
Memphis has Elvis and Rockford Illinois (my very nearly hometown) has Cheap Trick, the great and extant Power Pop band. I saw them back in the mid 70s at the Rockford Armory, a big concrete square where the sound ricocheted off every surface like rifle shot and made me deaf for days.
We know that geography shapes music--you couldn't have Jimmy Buffett without Key West, Fats Domino without steamy New Orleans, Dolly Parton without the Smokey Mountains. So it stands to reason that you can't have Cheap Trick without rock-rich Illinois.
There's a lot of Rocks in Illinois and southern Wisconsin--there's Rockton, Rock Cut State Park, Rock County just across the border in Wisconsin, with the mighty Rock River running through it all. This isn't Mt Rushmore sized rock, it's crushed rock, rock quarries, rocky limestone ledges squared off at neat right angles. It's the bedrock beneath the famously plainspoken midwestern character.
Like all manufacturing towns in the midwest, Rockford is a thirsty town, with a generous array of establishments for slacking ones thirst, like Rocky's Tap and The House of Bottles.