The Compulsive Gamblers

Crystal Gazing Luck Amazing

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Of the grimy handful of albums released by the Compulsive Gamblers, 2000s Crystal Gazing Luck Amazing is easily the strongest and most fully realized. With a lineup led by two members of the defunct legendary Memphis punk-garage trio the Oblivians, the Compulsive Gamblers' records were met with high expectations by fans. However, the Gamblers offered a considerably lighter, more mature touch in their musicianship and singing than the fantastically feral Oblivians typically cared to muster. Jack Yarber's pill-popping dirge, "Rock & Roll Nurse" simmers and steams as the guitarist pleads for a nurse in a little white skirt to, "Call Doc Necropolis, and tell 'em what I got." For sheer (post)-adolescent angst, "Negative Jerk" comes the closest to approximating the clanging, garage-punk attack of the Oblivians. Sort of the next step on the evolutionary scale, "The Way I Feel About You," finds Greg Cartwright channeling that same gut-twisting angst into what may be one of the most furious love songs ever written. The stomping drum beat is echoed by stiff, stuttering guitar lines as the singer self-deprecatingly pours his nervous heart out, screaming "I never said the way I feel about you/I know you'd laugh and say it wasn't the truth." It's teen angst in all its glory, all grown up and old enough to drink and get rowdy. "Whole Lotta Woman" is a primal dance party anthem right out of the gate. With a swaggering drum stomp, a giddy gang of backing vocals and an animated lead turn from Cartwright that's erupts into gutter gospel by the end, the song is a hip-shaking, lusty ode. "Two Thieves" is a western-tinged ballad chronicling the story of outcasts whose paths shouldn't have crossed. "If the two of you had me/Both your mothers would've wept/Two peas in a pod," offers Cartwright on what proves to be one of the album's softest moments. A strong, well-balanced collection, several of the songs from this album have outlived the band, with Cartwright's surprisingly sweet girl group inspired rocker "Stop and Think It Over," carrying over as live staple for his post-Gamblers group the Reigning Sound. The song has also been trotted out live by the Hives. However, the surreal pinnacle of the ultra-catchy song's career came half-a-dozen years after Crystal Gazing Luck Amazing, when Cartwright and his Reigning Sound recorded a version of the song backing girl group legend Mary Weiss (the Shangri-Las) for her 2007 comeback album.

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