Album 15 of 500: Sammy – Tales of Great Neck Glory

May 5, 2010

RELEASE DATE: April 1996

By far, the most unknown, underrated and unappreciated indie band of the nineties, New York City’s Sammy was hip.  Accused of sounding too much like Pavement,  Sammy constisted of vocalist Jesse Hartman, Luke Wood and guest drummers. Sammy was a short lived act that lasted for two years. Two wonderful albums, and still being called a Pavement ripoff to this day, Sammy albums are now hard to come by. Sammy debuted their first album, Debut Album in 1994, followed up with Tales of Great Neck Glory two years later. Both albums are equally good, and this writer has always felt that Sammy was never given the chance.  Tales of Great Neck Glory did better that Debut Record, even having airplay and even a cozy little spot on MTV’s 120 Minutes, for the single,  “Neptune Ave. (Ortho Hi Rise)”.  In this review, we will look at the more well known album, Tales of Great Neck Glory.

Tales Of Great Neck Glory has a cleaner, less Pavement sound than Debut Album. Jesse Hartman knew the Pavement factor, being influenced by Pavement and one can really hear it on Debut Album, yet Sammy is more lo fi.  Hartman’s vocals are similar to Stephen Malkmus, but deeper and more of a comparison to the vocals of Lou Reed.  Tales of Great Neck Glory is an absolutely underrated fantastic album, and for such a great band, it was a shame for them to disband shortly after the release of Tales of Great Neck Glory.  This writer feels it is unfair to view this band as a total Pavement ripoff.  Let’s step back, and pretend we never heard the indie legends Pavement.  Tales of Great Neck Glory is a simple album, lyrics that tell tales about crushes and rejection.  Corky and fun lyrics run rampant throughout the album. Jesse Hartman vocals give the lyrics such a sweet boyish charm. The best song on the album is the second track, “Encyclopedi-Ite”. Opening with the lyrics, “I used to sneak into your room/I felt like  I was raiding King Tut’s tomb/Scrapbook on the walls/Trophy on your shelf/Yes I wanted to all, all for myself,” can remind someone of going into their crush’s room for the first time, just to sneak of a peep of that person’s personal life.  The radio hit, “Neptune Ave. (Ortho Hi Rise)” has lyrics just as curious and charming, including the best lyric on the album. “I wish that I knew You/That You Weren’t Made Up/ Hear the Frog in Your Voice/See the Way that You Strut.” We all day dream about what our love lives hold in the future when we are single, and this is a perfect illustration, “I wish that I knew you/Not a sketch in my book.”  The closing track, “Kings Pt. Vs. Steamboat” shows the example of  rejection, “I think you got the short end of the stick.” Overall, Sammy got the short end of the stick. Lets not say Sammy is a Pavement ripoff, but the East Coast version.  Tales Of Great Neck Glory will forever be tales of great underrated glory.

RM CRESSER © 2010 500 Rad Records


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