Classic Singles #56: The Gentlemen – It’s a Cry’n Shame / You Can’t Be True (1966)

Gentlemen_labelThe Gentlemen hailed from Dallas, Texas and were together from 1964 to 1968. They played venues such as Louann’s Club and The Studio Club in Dallas itself, along with The Panther A-Go-Go and The Box in nearby Fort Worth, and they opened for the likes of Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels and The Beau Brummels.

Tom Brown of Vandan Records heard them playing at Louann’s and offered them the chance to record some of their own material for a single on his label. ‘You Can’t Be True’ was initially seen as the more likely a-side and two weeks were spent working on the song with arranger Gene Garretson at Sumet Studios in Dallas. With Tom Brown’s budget all but spent on recording this song, ‘It’s a Cry’n Shame’ had to be laid down in a couple of takes in the time remaining.

‘It’s a Cry’n Shame’ is widely considered to be one of the all-time monsters of 60s garage punk and I am not going to disagree with that opinion. Maybe the fact that it had to be recorded so quickly accounts for the vitality so apparent in the song, with its pounding drums and ripping fuzz guitar throughout, a strong performance from vocalist Mike Kelley, and all topped off by a scintillating guitar break. Guitarist Seab Meador apparently achieved the fuzztone sound by putting the neck of his guitar in a hole he had made in the centre of his Vox Super Beatle amplifier.

The flip is a pleasing ballad dominated by Gene Garretson’s string arrangement and with a neat “clean” guitar solo and some tasteful keyboard work.

Gentlemen_band

The single was released in December 1966 and the January 1967 issue of Record World Magazine awarded it four stars (along with ’For What It’s Worth’ by The Buffalo Springfield and ‘Somebody to Love’ by The Jefferson Airplane!). Sadly the 45 wasn’t the national hit it should have been but it did receive plenty of airplay on the KLIF and KNOK radio stations in Dallas, leading to the highpoint of the band’s popularity in the local area.

The Gentlemen didn’t release any more singles, though an acetate does exist of earlier recordings from 1965, ‘Beg, Borrow Or Steal’ and ‘Here I Cannot Stay’.

Reissues: ‘It’s a Cry’n Shame’ has appeared on Pebbles Volume 5, Essential Pebbles Volume 1 and Fort Worth Teen Scene Volume 3. The flip has yet to be commercially compiled.

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