Sugar and Spice by The Cryan’ Shames

Before he became Patti Smith’s lead guitarist, Lenny Kaye compiled Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era. Released in 1972, the two-LP set covered American garage rock and psychedelia from the years 1965-1968 and was a major influence on punk rock. Rhino Records reissued an expanded version of the set in 1998, with 118 tracks in total. I’m profiling and rating each of these 118 tracks, working backwards.

Track 18: Sugar and Spice by The Cryan’ Shames
Release Date: 1966
From: Hinsdale, Illinois
Rating: 9/10

SUGAR AND SPICE – The Cryan Shames [2:24]
(Fred Nightingale)
Personnel/TOM “TOAD” DOODY: vocals * JIM FAIRS: lead guitar * GERRY STONE: guitar * DAVE PURPLE: bass * DENNIS CONROY: drums * JIM “HOOK” PILSTER: tambourine
An MG Production
Recorded in Chicago, IL
Destination single #624 (6/66); Pop #49

The Cryan Shames were a six-piece band from Hinsdale, Illinois. Unusually, they featured a one-armed tambourine player, J.C. Hooke. They’ve on the polished end of garage-rock, with warm harmonies and jangling guitars. They’re like The Byrds, but with more sunshine pop leanings.

They Cryan’ Shames are best known for their debut single ‘Sugar and Spice’. It’s a cover of a Searchers song. It’s similar to the original, but more dynamic.

The band were mainly successful in Chicago. Most of their debut album consisted of covers, although ‘Ben Franklin’s Almanac’ shows some promise as an original. If ‘Sugar and Spice’ is their ‘Mr Tambourine Man’, ‘Ben Franklin’s Almanac’ is their ‘Eight Miles High’.

The Cryan’ Shames petered out in the late 1960s, after recording three albums. Like many Nuggets bands, their momentum was hurt by the Vietnam War. Guitarist Gerry Stone and bassist Dave Purple were both drafted.

YouTube’s been serving me up some cuts from their final album, 1968’s Synthesis, and they sound pretty good.

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  1. I was in a band called The Cryin’ Shames…different one of course!
    Those three songs are like a progression up. The first one is bubblegum and fit the time…the second is more aggressive and I like it…the third one is really good! I like the dynamics and the backup vocals a lot.

    • Your band could obviously spell better than they could…

      Yeah, I was surprised how much I liked the third song. Made me want to delve into the albums.

  2. Yet another band from Nuggets who are entirely new to me – I guess that’s a cryan shame! On a more serious note, I agree they sounded quite good. I think your Byrds comparison is spot on. It’s a pity they came to an end because of the Vietnam War. I hope Gerry Stone and Dave Purple made it back alive!

    • I think the point of Nuggets is to scoop up a bunch of bands that would have otherwise been forgotten. They did a great job. Looks like Stone and Purple were OK, although Purple’s since passed.

  3. Smooth, rich vocal harmonies, jangly guitars and rolling garage drums is a great combination. Listening to a song like this makes it easy to understand why so many bands of the era went in that direction.

    I think I prefer Ben Franklin’s Almanac, though. Cool track. Especially that fantastic manic walking bassline.

    They also benefit from having their songs competently recorded. I find the sound on some of the Nuggets tracks are so rough that I have a hard time evaluating the songs, but these sound fanastic.

    • Yeah, I think the rawer bands can get away with a rawer sound, but these guys needed competent recording and mixing and got it.

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