The Knickerbockers


Song Review by

The Knickerbockers' "Lies" is justly regarded as the most accurate early-Beatles imitation. Even many years after its original release, there's still a good chance it can fool younger listeners who weren't around to hear it upon its original release in late 1965 into thinking they've stumbled across a Beatles song they somehow haven't heard before. The secret of its success -- and actually it was pretty successful, making the Top 20 -- was that almost all blatant Beatles imitations focused on the lighter, poppier side of the band. "Lies" hardly ignored Beatlesque pop hooks, but it also emulated the Beatles' toughest, hardest-rocking side. It sounded like it could have somehow fit into their A Hard Day's Night, Beatles for Sale, or Help! albums, yet was not explicitly derivative of any one Beatles song. Like several prominent Beatles songs, it's unusual in that it starts with a chorus, à la early-Beatles ravers like "Can't Buy Me Love," "When I Get Home," or "Anytime at All." The group's shouts of "Lies!" are immediately answered by a tough, almost gnarly brief angry guitar riff. The aggressive lead vocal is amazingly like that of John Lennon, and perhaps the single trait most responsible for convincing many that this was a Beatles record. After the title is sung, the melody craftily goes into a brief, far moodier section, returning to the chorus but almost immediately inserting an exhilarating minor-key, very Lennon-esque falsetto. In yet another Beatlesque turn, the brief verses (or bridges -- the delineation isn't too clear) are in a decidedly more minor melodic mood than the relatively cheery chorus. That's particularly so when the vocals accuse the girl of being unfaithful in a fashion simultaneously threatening and hurt -- another very Lennon-esque characteristic. The background vocals were very much like the sort that Paul McCartney and George Harrison sang on Lennon rockers like "You Can't Do That"; the scream in the instrumental break was very much like McCartney's whoops; and the slightly sloppy yet concise guitar solo in the break was rather in Harrison's style. For all the Beatles comparisons, though, "Lies" was a hugely enjoyable single for its own merits, even if the early Beatles styles they were aping had been discarded by the Beatles themselves when "Lies" peaked at number 20 in early 1966. "Lies" was covered, in a less overtly Beatlesque manner, by Lulu and, in France, by Ronnie Bird, in a translated-to-French version retitled "Cheese."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968 1972
Various Artists
Rhino 2:45
Highs of the Sixties 1986
Various Artists
Warner Music / Warner Bros. 2:42
Battle of the Bands, Vol. 1 [K-Tel] 1988
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:41
Classic Rock: 1966 - The Beat Goes On 1988
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 2:45
The 20 Classic Tracks! 1988 Sundazed 2:41
No Image 1988 See For Miles Records
Garage Band Rock 1995
Various Artists
Laserlight / Delta Distribution 2:43
Knickerbockerism!: Hits, Rarities, Unissued Cuts & More... 1997 Sundazed 2:58
60's Flashback [Double Play] 1998
Various Artists
Double Play Records 2:41
Party Super Hits 1998
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 2:43
Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968 [Box Set] 1998
Various Artists
Rhino 2:44
Rockin' 60's, Vol. 1 1999
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:40
Jukebox Hits of 1966, Vol. 2 2000
Various Artists
Jukebox Hits / Jukebox Records 2:42
Nuggets from Nuggets: Choice Artyfacts From the First Psychedelic Era 2000
Various Artists
Rhino 2:43
12 Hits of the '60s, Vol. 1: Five Star Collection 2002
Various Artists
Varèse Sarabande / Varese 2:48
1966: The Soundtrack 2003
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd. 2:42
Chartbusters USA, Vol. 3 2003
Various Artists
Ace 2:44
Hal Lifson's 1966 2003
Various Artists
Varèse Vintage / Varese 2:48
Allergic to Flowers: Garage Beat and Popsike 2008
Various Artists
The Challenge Recordings 2015 Sundazed 2:48