Listen – The Gants – My Baby Don’t Care – MP3
Welcome to another week of goodness here at Iron Leg.
The annals of the 60s garage sound operate on two basic levels.
1. Strictly local, obscure acts that pounded their gee-tars, drums and combo organs for the delectation of high school dances, basement parties and liquor store openings
2. The Nuggets-level acts that had some impact beyond their own (literal and figurative) backyards, many of whom made some mark on the national charts.
The Gants – hailing from the deep and sweaty South (Greenwood, Mississippi to be exact) – fall firmly into the second category.
They formed in 1963 as the Kingsmen (a name that had to be changed for obvious reasons) and renamed themselves the Gants (after a brand of shirt). Their first 45, ‘Road Runner’, which was backed by today’s selection ‘My Baby Don’t Care’ was released in 1965 on the local Statue label, before being picked up for national distribution by Liberty later that year. They released a bunch of 45s and a couple of albums before cashing in their chips in 1967.
Where the Gants’ version of ‘Road Runner’ is pure, unadulterated R&B fuzz, ‘My Baby Don’t Care’ is a prime example of why the Byrds were one of the most important influences on the American garage punk movement. The group lays down a harmony vocal over a cascading wave of amplified 12-string jangle, which along with the rattle of a tambourine is pretty much all you hear on the record. While the verses are all very groovy, you need to hang in for the bridge (which reminds me of ‘Can’t Explain’ by Love) where things get a little bit darker and more interesting (chord-wise anyway).
The weird thing is that when I listen to this song I swear that I heard another version of it back in the 80s garage revival days. I haven’t been able to turn up any recorded cover versions, so I must have heard it played live by someone (it would have fit nicely in an Optic Nerve set list). If anyone out there has a clearer recollection, please drop me a line
That of course is neither here nor there, and the bottom line is that ‘My Baby Don’t Care’ is first rate folk punk.
I hope you dig it and I’ll be back later in the week with perhaps the greatest example of US-based freakbeat.