Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
The Gents - Corpus Guitarsdotdotdot
artworkLittle is known about this LP. What I have to review is a CD-R from a cassette that comes by way of our friend Mike Vernon of 3 Balls of Fire. Mike reports that his source originally copied a cassette from a fourth party's LP. The Gents were reportedly an all-black guitar intro band from Corpus Cristi, Texas, or at least had a couple of black members. This was still unusual for this time period. The cover depicts them wearing top hats. The LP dates from 1960 or 61. While many of the instros are based in period rock 'n' roll and R&B, the hint of the looming surf sound is clearly present, in part due to the band's configuration, and is especially apparent on two tracks, "Corpus Guitars" and "Erotica." The instrumentation is lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass, drums, and bongos. Most of the tracks are gutsy and well developed given their time period. I sure would like to find the masters for these sessions. Anyone know more about this band, please contact me.
Picks: Gentlemens Cha Cha, Moon Light, Lil' Scotty Went Walkin', Big D Special, Corpus Guitar, Erotica, Stompin', Band Special, The Drag, Humph Special

Track by Track Review

Gentlemens Cha Cha dotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

With the general feel of "Wild Weekend Cha Cha," this track is infectious and warm, despite the lead melody being somewhat buried in the mix at times. Considering it's pre-surf time period, it's quite well developed. most of the instros from the late fifties through '61 were little more than chord progressions, often without even a hint of a melody. "Gentlmens Cha Cha" is very cool track.

Moon Light dotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This is a pretty gutsy track, with a tuff rock underbelly and exotic percussion backtrack. More a riff than a song, but very solid. This could easily be surfed up with a little imagination and retention of the bongos.

Lil' Scotty Went Walkin' dotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

"Lil' Scotty Went Walkin'" is a slower instro with an undulating feel and walking bass line. The melody line is a little on the jammy side, yet it holds focus well enough. A strong song with primal twang.

Big D Special dotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

"Big D Special" reminds me a little of early Mike Vernon songs in its phrasing and twang and slight blues-jazzy underbelly. Minimal, but verging of surf twang.

Corpus Guitar dotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

Opening with a "Moovin' and Groovin' "chord structure, "Corpus Guitar" slips a little melodically, though it retains interest through the well defined audio. The bongos really add to this track.

Erotica dotdotdotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

Boy oh boy! "Erotica" is one sinewy song. Exotic bongos, a delicate aquatic rhythm guitar, soft bass and drums, and a lead line that's calling to the sea if ever there was one before the surf arose on the scene. This is haunting and moody, with a stellar moodiness and sense of gently rolling swells.

Stompin' dotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This is just what it says, a stomp. Not unlike some of the more minimal surf stomps, "Stompin'" is a rousing' R&B based frat rockin' anthem. This must have been a fave at campus parties.

Band Special dotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

"Band Special" is a pretty minimal jam, with the kind of progression that many mid tempo b-sides had back then. Twangy and cool, but "Band Special" doesn't really stand out. It probably served as a set ender, the instros bands used to move off stage for a beer and peanuts.

The Drag dotdotdot
Blues (Instrumental)

"The Drag" is a slow walkin' blues progression with a sultry edge to a gutty guitar. You could have heard songs like this in any blues bar in 1960. It's really surprising how infectious these simple rhythm tracks are, and how well they keep the melody lines interesting.

Humph Special dotdotdot
Pre Surf (Instrumental)

This is structurally similar to Bill Dogget's "Honky Tonk," with a tuffer, more gutty sound. The solid sound quality of the recording adds to the power. "Humph Special" is twangy and jammin. Some nifty string slides add to the mix.