A band teetering on the brink of stardom, the Gants not only produced cherished memories for those lucky enough to witness them firsthand, but went on to win approval from “Pebbles” and “Nuggets” groupies.
Signed to the Liberty label, the Greenwood, Mississippi band released a trio of albums and several singles, and also kept busy playing live gigs, including heavily-publicized shows with major league acts such as the Animals and the Dave Clark Five. Covering the years 1965 to 1967, Roadrunner! The Best Of The Gants (Sundazed Records) paints a pleasing portrait of a band absorbing their influences with insight, then dressing them in their own attractive apparel.
Aside from being driven and determined, the Gants possessed an extra special trait that separated them from their peers, which was lead singer and guitarist Sid Herring’s songwriting abilities. Rounding out the band was guitarist Johnny Sanders, bassist Vince Montgomery and drummer Don Wood, whose zestful talents deserve loads of accolades as well.
Every entry on Roadrunner! The Best Of The Gants is fantastic, but as stated it’s the original material that leaves the biggest impression. Swamped to the bone with jangling guitars, happy harmonies and pillows of punchy rhythms, “I Wonder” weighs in as a folk pop tour de force and the sweetly-marinated “Spoonful Of Sugar” frolics merrily to a carefree pace. Peppered with sheets of dirty distorted fuzz and an urgent delivery, “(You Can’t Blow) Smoke Rings” and the incisive hiss (pun intended) of “I’m A Snake” zone in on the tougher tenor of the Gants. Lifting a few tricks in the book from “Ticket To Ride,” there’s the sobbing lament of “My Baby Don’t Care,” while “I Don’t Want To See Her Again” further crackles to a moody mentality.
As far as cover tunes are concerned, the Dave Clark Five are honored on an inspired take of “Try Too Hard,” where a pair of Bo Diddley numbers, “Roadrunner” and “Oh Yeah” bubble and bounce with youthful exuberance. Clad in chirpy choruses and clusters of chiming licks, the intensely catchy “I Want Your Lovin'” could pass as the twin brother of “I Wonder,” the choppy “Dance Last Night” features some cool harmonica work and “Greener Days” stands as a brooding ballad.
Fired by a trademark sound, charted of nasal-pitched vocals reflecting a becoming blend of Buddy Holly, Roger McGuinn of the Byrds and Mal Robinson of Morning Dew, accompanied by striking melodies and concise arrangements, the Gants had vision and vitality. As validated by Roadrunner! The Best Of The Gants, the band performed a nice balance of British Invasion styled pop and folk rock similar to the likes of the Beau Brummels and the Blue Things. And that alone should make you want to purchase a copy of this great collection!
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