Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New England Spotlight: The Shames - The Special Ones and My World Is Upside Down

The New England Battle of the Bands competition continues on this Tuesday with a band out of Ipswich, Massachusetts, a town just north of Boston. The band was The Shames (formerly the Cryin' Shames, but that name was taken) and consisted of Denis Trudel on vocals, Gerard Trudel on bass, Joey Amerault on drums, James Amero on lead guitar, and Patty Germoni on organ. That's right, The Shames were rockin' it with a girl in the band. And her nickname was apparently "Beetle". Bitchin'! The Shames played all over New England and, according to Back From The Grave Vol. 6, as far West as Buffalo and even had Bo Diddley in their audience one night. The band kicked out only one record, released on RFT out of Hyannis, Massachusetts, the same tiny town in Cape Cod where they recorded this sloppy-ass gem. And here is the kicker about this 1967 release. They forgot to put their name on the record. D'oh!

The A-Side, The Special Ones, was composed by singer Denis Trudel (second from right in the scanned photo below). The song starts with a sloppy racket of brazen guitar banging away. Trudel laments the life of being a long hair mod in a town of squares. But he stands up for himself, calling themselves The Special Ones (a title that takes on a different meaning when you consider they forgot to put their name on the record!). He even works in the band's original name of The Cryin' Shames into his lyrics. 

The Flip-Side is perhaps the better known of this double sided raver. My World Is Upside Down was co-written by the guitarist (the blonde cat on the left) and starts epically awesome with Trudel (voice cracking like Peter Brady) calling the flock to church before Gerard Trudel rips off a bass solo that would put John Entwistle to Shame (see what I did there?). I say this next thing with 100% sincerity: The loud jangly guitar overwhelming the recording, the drums banging away deep in the background, beyond dodgy harmonies, funky time changes, ridiculously simplistic song structure and the requisite 'woe-is-me' lyrics makes this a garage classic in the first order. It's just the kind of rock-n-roll approach that makes teen-driven garage music from the 60s so damn good. We don't need to be going up, up and away in a beautiful, beautiful balloon. We don't need to be going on an overly complicated musical journey to tell us that 'your's is no digrace'. Nope. We need one diminutive, snot nosed outsider telling us about how he feels like a 'broken limb on a tree'. And in less than 2:40 to boot!

If I recall correctly, San Diego's Tell-Tale Hearts did a spot on cover of this song back in the early to mid 80s. It must have taken their bassist, Mike Stax, hours in front of the turntable to figure out that bass solo!
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

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