|WRR #75 - The Gentleman Callers
Don't Say What It Is
ON SALE!: $5This CD is also availble at www.interpunk.com
|St. Louis' "garage rock" favorites are back with a full-length CD that will make you shimmy AND shake! Find out what all the fuss is about!
Here is what The Trouble With Normal had to say about this record:
Doing a zine has its good points and its difficulties. Between doing it, your paying job, and the other things involved in everyday life that need to be done it becomes part of the job to try and make sure things don’t fall through the crack. This somehow managed to do that when I came across it in one of my backlog piles and put it on. On this album The Gentleman Callers dish out a batch of energetic garage rock songs packed full of melodic hooks and a snide attitude. Whether taking on full on raveups or more mid tempo fare, the disc is full of tasty (often greasy) guitar parts and swaggering vocals. Admittedly their influences are on their sleeves at times, but the band has enough verve and fire to compensate for any slight derivation in their songcraft. The music of the Gentleman Callers is music you want to hear when you need a jolt of energy. It’s been out for a while but I’m kinda kicking myself for not getting to it sooner. (BOONE)
Here is what I-94 Bar had to say about this record:
I have this idea for a television show. It's based around the 1970s American show "Fantasy Island", in which contestants would arrive at an island (governed nominally by a graceful Ricardo Montalban wearing a swish white suit with assistance from the amusing four-foot high "Tattoo" - with his classic catchcry "Ze plane, ze plane") and nominate the fantasy scenario in which the contestant would like to feature. Inevitably some life lesson would learned, things would come out for the best and Ricardo would make some pithy comment as the contestant flew back into reality.
In my version contestants could nominate great music moments they would like to have been part of - preferably concert moments. I've pondered the great rock, garage and related moments I'd like to have witnessed first hand. There are the obvious ones - Grande Ballroom c1967, Oxford Funhouse c1976, Seaview Ballroom c1979, CBGBs c1975 etc etc. I'm not quite sure what the attraction of the show would be to a TV executive, beyond the chance to have a TV show each week with a wicked soundtrack (which, if I understand the demographic that dominates TV executives, would be completely and utterly lost on said executives) but it'd have to be better than most of the shite that clogs up the broadcasting spectrum these days.
Another 'classic' moment would be London - or maybe England more generally - in the mid 1960s. Sharp suits - not exactly mod, but on the periphery of that style - pork pie hats, wrap around sunglasses and 3 minute r'n'b influenced primitive rock songs, played live in some dingy, smoke filled club to a bunch of enthused punters. Maybe you'd spot a slim Van Morrison loitering around the bar, or even Chas Chandler waiting to exit the dysfunctional Animals and find himself an undiscovered guitar legend to manage. Yes, it's a cliched scene - and one that may not have ever existed except in the boring-old-fart memoirs of some alcohol damaged 1960s wannabe impressario - but it's got a certain aesthetic appeal.
Despite hailing from St Louis, the Gentleman Callers play a brand of 60s r'n'b influenced garage that establishes that 1960s English r’n’b club vision in my mind, tinged with a bit of psychedelic garage before that particularly vision became tainted with hippies, flowers and vacuous statements about bring the world together through peace, love and copious amounts of illicit substances. The sonic ingredients essential to good r’n’b garage are all here –simple guitar licks stripped to the bare bones of melodic existence, vocals that meander between snarling and guttural, organ augmentation to clear the dark skies with a bit of aural sunlight and a rhythm section that does no more than it needs and everything it needs to with perfect precision.
“I Was Blind” had me interested upon the first hearing of the memorable guitar hook that underpins the song; Kevin Schneidner’s vocals sound like Van Morrison- or is it Eric Burdon before he lost control of his hairstyle to the forces of evil and darkness - before the booze cut through too much and the mid-song guitar solo arrested my attention like a funny pill dropped into a glass of lemon cordial. The sub-two minute“Hurt On Me” brought to mind images of the Rolling Stones; here the guitar solo could easily be accompanied by a young and unknighted Mick Jagger sliding effortlessly across the stage without lifting a heel. “Grass is Greener” slides back to a slower pace, more Chicago blues Summer of Love or Swinging London, “I’ve Got Mine” has more than a skerrick of Animals-pissed-off-this-part-of-the-world about it (mixed with a bit of The Hollies) while “You Oughta Know By Now” is yet another (great) song that should be immediately associated with beehive wearing go-go dancers cajoling the audience into getting right on down.
“It’s All in the Mind” finds Schneider at his most passionate and emotionally drained, delivering an exasperated epistle in the midst of relationship turmoil while in the background the guitar interplay creates memories of a time when things were rosy. And after that moment of introspection “Hey Little Girl” is a bouncing tune – maybe a hedonistic antidote to the morose relationship observations of the previous tune (and, surprise, surprise, another killer lick); “Everything’s A Hassle” is arguably the most accurate, and pithy statement made in recent times about the world and its daily dramas; the fury of the drumming and spiralling guitar solo that appears mid-song suggests that narrator is on the verge of going postal at the pressures of the world until the laconic guitar hook returns things to a level of resignation and normality.
“If You Want Me to Love You Again” – recorded live on a St Louis radio program – is simply a song to dance madly to – again, again and again while the opening guitar in “Treat Me Bad” is so sharp it spears through your mind without barely leaving a trace of entry or exit. By this stage I didn’t anything else to convince me of the merits of this album – but just in case I did there’s a couple more invigoriating garage pop tunes in “She Blew My Mind” and “Square Peg” are there just to reassure the listener.
There are times when you need to chuck something on the stereo that’s going to find that happy balance between mid-'60s hedonism, superficial emotional introspection and matter-of-fact-but-couldn’t-a-fuck analysis – with a soundtrack to die for. The Gentleman Callers have got all that, and more. There’s a lot going for this CD, and I don’t reckon I’ve even scratched the surface. - Patrick Emery
Here is what The Odyssey had to say about this record:
Heads up kids, here is some excellent 60s garage. You've got it all, a big, shouting garage rock holler, a wild fuzz guitar, organ, and that rattling traps & bass guitar to back it all up. While there is nothing that strays too far from every other garage band you've ever listened to, the songs are good and the vocals are much much better than average. These fellas know what they're doing. The sound quality is great too and I'm not usually one to get bent out of shape over such things. You can hear the echoes of the room and it's really clear and crisp without being overly polished. Nice job.
Here is what Slug Magazine had to say about this record:
Here is what Sample Press had to say about this record:
Here is what Ear Candy had to say about this record:
Sixties garage rock classics fresh off the press. Like a ripple in the space-time continuum, the Gentleman Callers keep pumping out a near perfect mix of garage rock. It’s as if they fell into some kind of time warp in 1967 and landed in 2005. I love this cd a little more every time I listen to it. They’re pretty much a household name in the world of garage rock but most of the general public has never heard of them. It’s a damn shame too. What a great improvement it would be to today’s radio if bands like this were added to the play lists. Favorite tracks are “Hey Little Girl”, “Hurt On Me”, “Treat Me So Bad” and “She Blew My Mind”. Very highly recommended.
Here is what Now Wave had to say about this record:
Awesome garage rock straight outta St. Louis!
I often fantasize about waking up one morning and discovering that the Gentlemen Callers are the biggest band in the world. I step outside and see that all the young lovelies have traded in their ghetto wear and rich-girl getups for mini-dresses and go-go boots and great gobs of mascara. I overhear the kids talking about how bored they are with hip-hop and club music and how they love to go out every night and dance to the rock n' roll. I turn on MTV, and there's Kopper hosting the Wayback Machine, introducing the masses to Thee Fine Lines. Every cat I meet has trashed his iPod and bought a turntable. I hit the hottest club in St. Louis one evening, and up on stage I spot the Gentlemen Callers, ripping it up as righteously as the Yardbirds, Animals, Pretty Things, Kinks, Them, Shadows of Knight, and Standells must have in their day. And although the fantasy has to end and I must return to reality, I can still jam out to the Gentlemen Callers on CD whenever I feel like it.
Gentlemen Callers...now that's a goddamn cool name for a band. Reminds me of a time when men were men, when guys didn't grovel for dates but instead showed up like knights in shining armor and swept the ladies off their feet. Gentlemen callers are remnants of a much cooler age - as are THE Gentlemen Callers. On their debut album, these sharp-dressed fellows kick up an irresistible mix of '60s teenage garage racket and raunchy mod/R & B. Anyone who's ever cranked his Nuggets collection at max volume and reveled in the eternal awesomeness of primitive, high-energy rock n' roll can certainly dig what these guys are doing. Perhaps their act might come across as pointless homage if it weren't so fucking good. But it IS so fucking good, and I could definitely play the album for my Uncle Cletus and get him to believe it's an unreleased obscurity from 1966. And my Uncle Cletus is one sharp mofo: he can peg eight out of every ten modern-day "garage" bands for the prettyboy hipster posers they truly are. Powered by zingy organ riffs, dynamo drumming, hard, simple guitars, and an expressive singer who howls like a young Eric Burdon, this band's no-frills attack has got what it takes to get you out of your seat and shaking your ass.
The Gentlemen Callers get high marks not just for exuberance and chops, but also for some first-rate rock n' roll songwriting. They come strong right out of the gates with a phenomenal pair of straight-up rockers, "I Was Blind" and "Hurt On Me". Whew! It's hard to decide which one's the "hit", because both tunes smoke like long-lost garage rock classics. "Hey Little Girl" recalls both the Syndicate of Sound oldie of the same name and the Count Five's seminal smash "Psychotic Reaction". "You Oughta Know By Now" sounds like it belongs on the Quadrophenia soundtrack right in between "Louie Louie" and "Green Onions". Elsewhere the band slows down the pace and locks into a steady white soul groove reminiscent of the bluesier side of the British Invasion. "Grass Is Greener" and "It's All In Your Mind" are primo mid-tempo numbers a la the Animals & early Stones.
This album is what it is, so let the buyer be ware. The Gentlemen Callers don't attempt to create music that addresses the concerns of contemporary society or acknowledges the past 35 years of musical progress. They're not trying to be important or groundbreaking or even slightly socially relevant. But if you believe (as I do) that great rock n' roll needs to do little more than get you movin' and make you feel good, you'll love this band and everything it represents. Don't Say What It Is is a dance party just waiting to happen.
---Lord Rutledge, opinionated asshole
August 30, 2005
Here is what Garage and Beat had to say about this record:
This is one of the bands that have gotten favorable mention on the Bomp List from time to time so I had a good feeling about it as soon as it arrived. Just as I had imagined, the music is firmly rooted in snotty '60s punk with nods to various '70s artists who were still fixated on the '60s. The production is minimal and there was definitely more attention given to capturing gritty attitude than slick performance. It was pretty ballsy of the band not to include a cover or two to give the uninitiated an idea of their influences. Their original songs are pretty bluesy, for the most part, with flashes of guitar and organ flair and easy to sing along to chorus hooks. For "gentleman callers" they seem like a frustrated lot; most of the songs are about coping with double-dealing dames and there is lots of pent up angst evident in the vocals throughout.
Here is what Shindig Magazine had to say about this record:
Pretty cool mid-'60s garage/R&B that comes across not unlike Shutdown 66. The snot is truly in place, but never falls into the trash arena, and the guitars sound just great. This beats all the blues sludge and craperola that the young hipsters seem to prefer playing these days. Proper garage punk tailor made for the SD reader. Advised.
Here is what No Brains Zine had to say about this record:
The Gentleman Callers are really great garage with strong 60s influence. Well, it's a bit more in the 80s style. Loads of fuzz, backed with Vox organ, great vocal and super cool songs. 12 songs, all 12 killers filled with garage punk energy, lot of great fuzz riffs and solos. It's almost impossible to pick faves. Just check: "Hurt On Me", "You Oughta Know By Now", "It's All In Your Mind", "Treat Me So Bad", ... Definitely an album that will be on my top list for this year. Nothing new musically, but good things are better left unchanged. This is simply over the top quality garage punk.
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