Phil Gammage's "Giveaway" and "Guess I'm Falling In Love" Reviewed
I dunno why I wasn’t more aware of Certain General’s right time, the 1980s, right place, Hurrahs, just never really heard them. Listening to their old songs today I am shocked I missed it, a damaged art rock post punk critics and musicians favorite who have the quirk down to an art form; all jagged edges and restrained cool vocals from Parker Delany and underground guitar licks by one Phil Gammage.
Certain General were the last of a New York string of bands, after CG “a” would appear and the scene would change, Parker and Phil were from a college art school, post Warhol, severely damaged deeply felt sound wall before its timeiness. They played at the CBGB Bowery Electric “Carry On Bands” show early October and, with heavy competition, were considered the stand outs of the evening.
Phil moved on, my assumption being that Phil has a powerful baritone and wanted to sing and “CG” had a singer, he formed a band what we would now call Americana but then sounded more like rockabilly. Phil followed that with a solo career of country as sung by the Righteous Brothers seven albums including 2011’s Sounds 2, Also: “guitarist/blues harp player with the punk/outsider blues band Dee Pop’s Private World, and as singer and harmonica player with pop combo The Rebel Factory.”
This year Phil released two new solo songs, first a cover of the Velvet Underground’s “I Guess I’m Falling In Love” which is simply the most useful Lou Reed cover ever; better played then the Another View version, better sung than the VU version, it is like Gammage channeled Mike Rathke and gave a minor addition to the Lou Reed canon a major overhaul. With the recent passing of Lou it stands as a tribute and more than a tribute, it is like Phil took an old black and white picture from the 1920s and gave it color and life.
Maybe even better is “Giveaway” a vocal tour de force that has been compared to Gene Pitney though I hear more Scott Walker myself as Phil sings just over an acoustic lick expanded beautifully in the lick and with nervy almost gothlike chorus. The song has something of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” in it but the comparisons is for anything better… Nick Cave?
The two are among the best songs of 2013