Probably on the dirtiest word to use in the presence of a rock fan is "Pop." Each generation, trying to latch on to some fresh sound, and break all ties with their parents, renames "pop." Ask a 1987 college kid (I mean young adult), who's bouncing around to Especially For You by the Smithereens, what he's listening to, and he'll say "Man, this is "alternative" rock (or some variation). Dress it up in leather, strap on some heavy guitars, and built a 15-piece drum kit. You still get Pop: Beach Boys' multi-part vocal harmonies (Hand Of Glory), the shining and delicate interwoven guitar work of the Byrds (Crazy Mixed-Up Kid), and those Searchers' "can't help myself from singing along" melodies (In A Lonely Place). Pat Dinizio may look like at beatnik (predating the British Invasion), but this guy can write some catchy hooks (check the "woke up" background vocals on `Groovy Tuesday'). In the world of Pop (see, it's not such a nasty word), Especially For You ranks right up there with Marshall Crenshaw's debut and Like This by the dB's.
So what's separates the Smithereens from the Beach Boys/Byrds/Searchers? How about attack and lyrics. "Behind The Wall Of Sleep" bounces around like a Go-Go girl on Shindig, but the band thrashes the song with scathing electric guitars. Byrds' jangle-guitars are all over "I Don't Want To Lose You, but here the drummer shows no mercy. The lyrics are based on the "Boy Meets Girl" Pop doctrine (Listen To Me Girl), but DiNizio gets sullen. The Searchers would never sing "I close my eyes and I see bloody roses" (Bloody and Roses). And certainly the every-mother-loves the Beach Boys would never have touched a filthy cigarette (Cigarette).
I know that it's tough, but say it. Say "I love Pop." See, it wasn't that difficult. Especially For You closes the nineteen-eighties with a Pop masterpiece. I gave copies to my own kids, and told then it was "grunge hip-hop rap rock." They've never spoken to me again.