The Gentrys – Gentry Time

ImageThe Gentrys were a short-lived band from Memphis, TN who recorded two albums with the original line up: Keep on Dancing and Gentry Time. Released in 1966 on MGM, Gentry Time straddles two worlds––the easy rock ‘n’ roll of the 60s high school dance scene and the loud and raw sound of American garage rock. At times, The Gentrys blend these worlds harmoniously, such as the simple, rhythmic groove of “Let’s Dance;” however, most of the songs on the album clearly fall one way or the other. For example, the album opens with “I’m Gonna Look Straight Through You,” one of the most rowdy and powerful breakup songs perhaps ever written. This song’s simple chord structure combined with it’s heavy lyrics and even heavier vocals immediately establish The Gentrys’ garage rock power. Unfortunately, the song is such a good opener that every other song feels like it’s just not quite as good as it could have been. The Gentrys continue to prove their garage rock abilities throughout the album, but nothing comes as close to perfect as “I’m Gonna Look Straight Through You.” Although they have earned their status as garage rockers, The Gentrys never seem to stray to far from their high school dance roots. Many of these pop rock love songs are skillfully crafted and performed. “Gimmie Love Now,” “Sunshine Girl,” and “I Didn’t Think You Had It in You” are all fantastic examples of the band’s ability to make 60s pop rock fun and  unordinary. Despite their frequent success, The Gentrys aren’t always able to pull it together to make great songs. Some of their tunes quickly fall into cliché rhythmic patterns and rely on oft overused lyrics. “Don’t Let It Be Me (This Time)” is the perfect example of a song that could’ve used more work before it was recorded for the album. On the whole, Gentry Time is a great second album that leaves the listener wondering what could’ve been had the band remained together. They were  mostly successful in straddling two very different musical genres, but perhaps having one foot in and one foot out is what ultimately lead to their demise.  B

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