Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Meet The GTVs!

Sam Steinig, who for 19 years led Philly garage greats Mondo Topless, is back with another killer band. The GTVs - featuring Steinig on organ and vocals, Pat Wescott on guitar, Scott Galper on drums, and Jude Dandelion on bass - have just come out with their debut album on the Italian label Teen Sound. And while Steinig's work on the Hammond organ is unmistakable (and marvelous!), The GTVs are by no means a carbon copy of Mondo Topless. The GTVs have more of a Stax soul based sound - think less Sonics and more Booker T and the M.G.s. That requires a hot band to pull off that kind of sound - and these fellas are very much up to the task. Galper and Dandelion are a perfectly in sync rhythm section, and Wescott's solos are out of this world. Yet The GTVs are still very much a true garage band - playing with energy and grit and never allowing their considerable instrumental prowess to devolve into "jamming".

Nearly half of the tracks on Sh'Bang! are instrumentals, and the band's choice of cover material really makes it clear where The GTVs are coming from. They take on Booker T.'s "Be My Lady" (done in the style of The Artwoods' cover version) and The Martinis' 1967 single "Bullseye". They also cover the old Ray Charles favorite "You're Just About To Lose Your Clown" (quite well, I might add!). And while original instrumental selections like "RnBnD" and the dynamite title cut are probably the album's high points, the vocal tracks are no slouch either. "Walk Right Up To You" is a premium shaker that's sure to get you up and dancing, and I hear echoes of The Animals on the soulful ballad "Pull You Down Below".

True to the nature of a band that's best experienced in a live setting, The GTVs aren't trying to wow you with their technical proficiency. Of course they can play, but it's more about having a good time and feeling the groove than it is about showing off. And it's just so much fun! If you loved that slice of '60s garage rock that was heavily influenced by American soul music, Sh'Bang! will take you back to your happy place. As a fan of this very particular genre, I've got to say that The GTVs really nail it. To call them "revivalists" would suggest that this sort of music went away in the first place. I prefer to think of them as keepers of the faith - and they do their musical heroes proud!


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