Hey kids, have you heard about the Beatles? They're this terrific group from England, and the Smithereens are here to tip you off about their exciting new sound! What's that? You already know all about the Beatles? Well, that's the Achilles' heel of this disc, the first set of new recordings from the Smithereens since 1999. Meet the Smithereens! is a tribute to Meet the Beatles!, the album Capitol Records put together to help introduce the Fab Four to American audiences in 1964. Meet the Smithereens! features the same 12 tunes in the same order as that iconic Beatles LP, and while the arrangements aren't letter-perfect re-creations of the original recordings, the Smithereens offer up very faithful interpretations of a dozen songs most serious rock fans know by heart. There's no arguing that these are great tunes, and the Smithereens are certainly up to the task of playing them, but the trouble is, the boys from New Jersey don't bring much of their own approach or personality to the material beyond the presence of Pat DiNizio's voice, which adds a moody undertow to the giddy excitement of "I Saw Her Standing There" and "All My Loving" (though it fits the heartache of "This Boy" like a glove). Something like this might work on-stage, where the energy and immediacy of a live performance always add an extra dimension to the music, but on disc, it's hard to do much besides compare these recordings to the originals, and let's face it, no one is going to play the songs from Meet the Beatles! better than the lads from Liverpool themselves. Viewed strictly as a collection of great pop songs played well by a veteran group, Meet the Smithereens! is fun listening, but at the same time it's a singularly pointless album, serving less to guide music fans to worthy artists they haven't been exposed to (the goal of the best and most valuable tribute albums) than to wade through the nostalgia of both musician and audience. You're much better off pulling your old copy of Meet the Beatles! (or Especially for You) out of the crate instead.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming