A Date with the Smithereens is the fifth album by the New Jersey rock band The Smithereens, released in 1994. It is seen as a stylistic departure by the band, as A Date is mainly influenced by hard rock and heavy metal, while previous albums have leaned more towards straightforward pop rock. The title is meant to be ironic as nearly all songs on the album are hate-inspired.
Frontman Pat DiNizio explained the darkness of the album saying: "So why's it so dark? Well, I'm not a particularly happy person these days, and I do feel that society's going to hell in a handbag. You can hear that in the first song: 'Guess what, there's a black cloud inside of my head, don't mess around with me or you'll find yourself dead.' If you live in New York City, you can feel that way, like everyone around you is a walking time bomb." Also, producer Butch Vig left the project prior to the recording of the album, which is said to have inspired some of the hatred expressed in this album.
The album was originally planned to be released about a year before it actually was, but Capitol Records was near dropping The Smithereens. The reason for this was a change in leadership at the label. In the post-Nirvana climate of "grunge rock", the pop rock sound of their previous album Blow Up, was considered old hat, despite the album including the band's second Top 40 hit single, "Too Much Passion". Butch Vig's departure from the project convinced Capitol's new leadership to drop The Smithereens from the label.
The Smithereens planned to start recording on the album in December 1992, but the recording was postponed to February 1993, because of The Smashing Pumpkins album Vig was working on. In July, Butch Vig gave up on the Smithereens, and shortly after, Capitol Records dropped them.
Only two weeks after The Smithereens were dropped by Capitol, they were signed to RCA Records. As revenge at Capitol, they even considered naming the new album after Capitol's president, but the idea was never used. In the end, the Smithereens decided to use their old producer, Don Dixon for the album.
The album title is based on the 1959 album A Date with Elvis and the cover is based on a picture of four thugs standing on a street in New York featured in a book Dennis Diken owned. Also, the font used for the title was based on the sleeve of a soundtrack album called "The theme from Ben Casey." As another reference to older albums, the cover includes the RCA Victor logo with Nipper the dog on it and it also included a logo saying "Living Stereo." The album came out on cassette, CD, and a box set of four seven-inch vinyl records. On the cassette and CD covers, the background color is red, but on the cover of the box set of records, the background color is light blue.
This album was not as well received as the other albums by fans. As a result of this, RCA dropped them after that album, leaving them without a record label for years.
Sources: Discogs, Allmusic, 45cat
All tracks written by Pat DiNizio, except where noted.
The box set vinyl edition of the album also contained the additional tracks "I'm Sexy" (Babjak), "Keep Me Running" (Demo) and "Everything I Have Is Blue" (Demo).The Smithereens
Pat DiNizio – Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
Jim Babjak – Guitars and Vocals
Dennis Diken – Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Mike Mesaros – Bass and Vocals
With:Lou Reed – Guitar solos for "Point of No Return" and "Long Way Back Again"