With so many great bands hailing from Ohio these days I’m completely surprised that Thee Shams – formerly The Shams – haven’t received much more attention. The Cincinnati area foursome, featuring brothers Zachary and Andrew Gabbard as well as Chad Hardwick and Keith Fox, is directly channeling the rhythm and blues of 1960’s garage rock. These guys have all the heart and soul of that era without the silly mod-style suits so many current bands are trying to pull off.
Please Yourself is the group’s second full-length album and the first on the bluesy Fat Possum label. And if you get past the half naked woman on the cover, you’ll find a lot to love about Thee Shams. The music is raw and rough around the edges, the vocals are swaggering and gravelly, and the band even throws in a lovely Hammond organ on some tracks. Basically, this band picked a style, adopted it without losing the gist of it, and took off running. There is nothing absolutely ground breaking here, but the point for this group seems to be playing great rock n’ roll not making waves.
There is a scorching cover of Bob Dylan’s “If You Gotta Go” on Please Yourself, but the focus here really is on the band’s own creations. “Come Down Again” reminds me of Muddy Waters with its thick as molasses blues and ever-so-slight country twang. Other tracks, like “Want You So Bad” and “Can’t Fight It” sound almost as though Thee Shams stole Mick Jagger for a few hours to record some tracks. This Rolling Stones groove is where Thee Shams seem most comfortable, and with the exception of a few slower tunes this is where most of the other tracks find their roots.
Please Yourself is a solid album that any R&B or garage rock fans are sure to love. It’s solid, unpretentious, and packed full of simply great songs. The members of Thee Shams have the chops, and I hope they continue pumping out groovy garage rock without changing a thing.