Sky (Doug Fieger, center)
Listen – Sky – Goodie Two Shoes – MP3
Listen – Sky – How’s That Treating Your Mouth Babe – MP3
Listen – Sky – One Love – MP3
I hope all is well in your corner of the sphere.
This post comes a little late, but thanks to borderline exhaustion, I couldn’t get it together for last week.
That was when I heard of the untimely passing of Doug Fieger, leader of the Knack.
I have to admit here that I was never a huge fan of the Knack. It would be accurate to say that in 1979, ‘My Sharona’ was nothing less than a blight on my senior year of high school, the kind of song that sent me flying to change the radio dial whenever it came on. It wasn’t until a few years later, when I heard their cover of the Kinks’ ‘The Hard Way’ that I softened in my appraisal of the band (which would have happened eventually since they were right up my power pop alley).
Anyway, it was early last year, on a digging/DJing trip to Washington DC that my man DJ Birdman turned me on to the fact that the Knack wasn’t Doug Fieger’s first band. That honor goes to the group you’re hearing today, Sky.
Fieger came of age in Detroit, where in the late 60s, he apparently sent a letter off to uber-producer Jimmy Miller (Rolling Stones, Traffic among many others) and suggested that if he were ever to come to the Motor City, he should drop in and hear Fieger’s band, that being Sky. Miller took him up on his offer, and at the ripe old age of 17, Fieger and his bandmates were spirited off to the UK where they recorded their debut album, ‘Don’t Hold Back’ in 1970. They would record a second LP with Miller (this time back in the States) before breaking up in 1972.
I grabbed the Sky album out of sheer curiosity, but was blown away when I actually heard it. Doug Feiger and his bandmates were making music with the same kind of proto-power pop sting as contemporaries like Big Star and the Raspberries. This is not to suggest that they sound anything like either of those bands, but rather that the benefit of hindsight suggests that they were all sailing in the same general direction.
The sound of Sky is a mix of 1970-appropriate heavy guitars, mixed with some great hooks. They were clearly ahead of their time, which is probably what doomed them to obscurity.
The three tunes featured today are fairly representative of the sound of that first album. ‘Goody Two Shoes’, ‘How’s that Treating Your Mouth Babe’ and ‘One Love’ all have the same tight, choppy guitar riffs that with a tiny bit less of the ‘stadium filling’ vibe would resurface as the decade progressed with Grin, Dwight Twilley, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers i.e. the earlier, rockier end of what would eventually morph into new wave and power pop.
I don’t know if any of the Sky material has ever been reissued on CD, but it ought to, since it’s quite good.
I hope you dig it, and you raise a glass in memory of Doug Fieger.