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The Cryan’ Shames’ “Sugar and Spice” Goes Mono In Now Sounds’ Expanded Reissue

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Cryan Shames - SugarWhen the venerable Goddard Lieberson, President of Columbia Records, announced the ascendancy of Clive Davis to a veep position at the label in 1965, the promotion of the younger man heralded for a new sound at Columbia. Lieberson had made Columbia the leader in the fields of classical and Broadway cast recordings, and was looking to position the label at the vanguard of rock, too. A number of new signings followed. Among those acts signed to the industry leader was The Cryan’ Shames, favorites on the Chicago live scene. The Shames – Tom “Toad” Doody on lead vocals, Jim “J.C. Hooke” Pilster on percussion, Dennis Conroy on drums, Jerry “Stonehenge” Stone on rhythm guitar, Jim Fairs on lead guitar and Dave “Grape” Purple on bass – released their Columbia debut, Sugar and Spice, in October 1966. It’s recently been reissued by Now Sounds in an edition which premieres the album’s original mono mix on CD. Now Sounds’ Sugar and Spice (CRNOW51) follows the label’s 2014 mono reissue of the Shames’ sophomore effort, A Scratch in the Sky.

Whereas A Scratch in the Sky was in large part inspired by the sunshine pop sounds emanating from California, Sugar and Spice was straight-ahead rock and roll with a decidedly British Invasion-esque bent. The LP was named after its straightforward revival of Tony Hatch’s “Sugar and Spice,” a hit for The Searchers three years earlier. “Sugar,” a local Chicago hit which reached the top 50 of the national Billboard pop chart, was one of seven covers to populate the album. Both it and its B-side, Jim Fairs’ original “Ben Franklin’s Almanac,” were initially released on the small Destination label and picked up by Columbia for inclusion on the band’s first long-player. Another cover from the Destination sessions was the band’s rendition of George Harrison’s “If I Needed Someone.” The Shames had heard the Beatle tune on the U.K. release of Rubber Soul and planned to give it a U.S. debut, but someone in Harrison’s camp got wind of it, and the single was scotched. Columbia rescued it for inclusion on Sugar. (Another Fab track here is The Shames’ rendition of Lennon and McCartney’s “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl,” first released on the 1970 various-artists compilation Early Chicago released on the Happy Tiger label and included as a bonus track.)

The Fabs, like the Shames, found inspiration in the music of Motown, and so a brisk, muscular run through Martha and the Vandellas’ hit “Heat Wave” also was included on Sugar and Spice. The rave-up “Hey Joe” shows the band’s garage-rock roots. Dame Vera Lynn’s 1939 anthem “We’ll Meet Again,” on first blush appears to be an odd choice from the Great British Songbook, but it had gained popularity among the younger set thanks to its inclusion in director Stanley Kubrick’s bitingly satirical 1964 film Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The Shames recorded it with a spot-on Byrds-style arrangement; of course, Roger McGuinn and co. recorded it on their own Columbia debut album, Mr. Tambourine Man. (The Turtles were another notable pop act to record the standard.) The Shames never hid their affection for their Columbia label mates, hence the equally strong cover of Gene Clark’s “She Don’t Care About Time,” the B-side to The Byrds’ hit “Turn! Turn! Turn!”

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Written by Joe Marchese

January 12, 2015 at 11:32

Posted in News, Reviews

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