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The Cryan' Shames - Sugar & Spice (1966) review

The Cryan' Shames "Sugar & Spice" (Now Sounds, 1966/2014)

From Hinsdale, Illinois came the Cryan' Shames, who were one of the top bands of the fertile Chicago music scene of the sixties. It's a mystery why this great group failed to achieve world domination, but like a lot of artists their material has been revisited over the years, gaining them a bigger and even more appreciative fan club. During the course of their existence, the Cryan' Shames recorded a series of singles, along with three albums that are all worth spending your hard earned cash on. But the album we're presently observing is the band's full-length debut effort, "Sugar & Spice," which was initially pressed on the Columbia label in 1966. Positively stunning, the album is a classic of its era and is just as good as anything the superstar acts were impressing the masses with.

Gods of harmony, the triple influences of the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Byrds are heavily heard on "Sugar & Spice." Original compositions such as the smooth and silky wrappings of "July" and "We Could Be Happy" gush with dignity and grace, and then there's "I Wanna Meet You," a crisp and peppy surf slanted power popper that shares the story of falling in love with a magazine model. The title track of the album was a hit by the Searchers, and the version by the Cryan” Shames, which reached number forty-nine on the national charts, is expertly duplicated in jingly jangly form.

Rich and radiant vocals, delivered in pitch-perfect splendor clearly characterize the gist of the band's personality. But the Cryan' Shames also exposed an experimental edge, as testified by the paralyzing zeal of "Ben Franklin's Almanac" that consolidated ghostly psychedelic atmospherics with spastic breaks and a sizzling Yardbirds styled rave-up. The band's inspirations are additionally acknowledged on cracking covers of George Harrison's ringing twelve-string epic, "If I Needed Someone" and the classy folk rock swirl of Gene Clark's "She Don't Care About Time," while remakes of "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" and "Hey Joe (Where You Gonna Go)" display a bracing garage rock strut. Perks and benefits abound, with the reissue of "Sugar & Spice" offering several bonus cuts. Among these treats are the crunchy rhythm chording of "Mr. Unreliable," a loyal copy of John Lennon and Paul McCartney's "You're Going To Lose That Girl," the country oriented "Georgia," and a take of the soft and warm stirrings of Bread's "It Don't Matter To Me." Propelled by melody and momentum, "Sugar & Spice" is stuffed to the absolute limit with catchy songs. Glistening guitars and chiming tambourines complement the band's striking choruses, developing into an outstanding selection of British beat, folk rock, and pure pop sounds. Blessed with talent, direction, and energy to spare, the Cryan' Shames were the ideal band, and "Sugar & Spice" proves they worked magic right from the start.

Review made by Beverly Paterson/2015
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