THE TWO MAN GENTLEMEN BAND – TWO AT A TIME
2012 – Self Released
This is not an easy album to really like but by the same token it’s just as difficult to dislike. A well respected member
of the musical community told me recently that he found the whole thing too ‘twee.’ I can see what he means, but ultimately don’t agree, simply because the novelty element that this band represents is done so skilfully and with so much panache by these two talented musicians, that the whole thing is highly
entertaining! Recorded in Wallyphonic studios, Pasadena, is quite appropriate for an album that whilst it sounds nothing like them, can only really be compared to bands such as the Pasadena Roof Orchestra, with their quirky, almost indefinable music. They are only a two piece band but one with their own inate sense of style that seemingly has it’s roots in the west coast night club and early western swing music of six or seven or more decades ago and swing is exactly what they do on most of these dozen songs.
The band consists of Andy Bean on vocals and 1961 ETG-150 Tenor guitar and Fuller Condon on upright bass and vocals. Their signature sound is evident from the off with Bean’s beautifully played melodic guitar dominating the sound and Condon’s driving bass foundation being the only instruments. Both are highly skilled musicians with Bean being able to coax some beautiful tones and runs from his guitar and Condon showing his skill on the bass with several strong solos, with the speedily perky Panama City Beach being a case in point as a tremendous exhibition of the playing
skills of each man.
Ten of the twelve songs on this entertaining listen are written by Bean with the main criteria being that the songs have a humourous element, despite several having more serious subject
matter! They’ve made half a dozen albums in this style over the last seven or so years, most of which have been very well received and whilst it is not particularly thought provoking or deep it is an incredibly well played, entertaining album of music in a style that few if any are still playing. Most
of the songs are quite light weight, if very well written and with vocalizing to match the style, but there are always those several that have slightly serious elements to them, just to keep the listener off guard! Pool Party is a pleasant easy going song that in many ways points to the fact that someone not affected by the recession likes to show off his wealth to the less fortunate! Of course, rather than delving into metaphor you can just as easily look at the song as being highly evocative of the title.
There is a cover of the Ted Daffan/Dick Jones song that is an excellent, if pared down, western swinger and there is one instrumental, the jazzy feeling Poolside,that allows both men the scope to display their not inconsiderable skills. Cheese and Crackers and Tikka Masala are both pretty inessential but again do serve to display the depth and prowess that these two tremendous musicians have. The final two songs on the album, Prescription Drugs and Two at a time are a couple of songs
that despite the humourous treatment do touch on more serious concerns with the former being self explanatory and the latter the tale of someone who turns to alcohol following the walk out of a lover.
I was at first tempted to mark this album lower but the fact is we need people who have their own pretty much unique style, especially when it’s played with as much skill and panache as this excellent pairing exhibit!