As commitment to a musical bit goes, the Two Man Gentlemen Band fall somewhere between the White Stripes’ we-are-too-siblings and fixed color scheme and the Residents’ 38-year reign of anonymity. Fortunately, the two men in question—tenor guitarist Andy Bean and string bassist Fuller Condon—have the charm and skills to pull off their offbeat shtick (over the course of five albums, no less): pretending the calendar never moved past the pre-rock-‘n’-roll 1940s and ‘50s. So yeah, it’s a helluva gimmick, but Two at a Time proves Bean and Condon are equally serious about the music of the era—jump blues, jazz, exotica (to say nothing of the execution: Bean plays a 1961 four-string electric tenor guitar through a vintage 1937 Gibson amp, and the whole thing was recorded live to tape using ‘40s/‘50s-era microphones and equipment) -– and having fun with the genres. The topics are tried and true: drinking (the bartender request “Please Don’t Water It Down”), drinking with girls in bikinis (“Panama City Beach”) and drinking because a girl is gone (the closing title track). There’s also the silly relationship metaphor “Cheese and Crackers” and the maybe-parody of Eisenhower-era attitudes towards exotic women, “Tikka Masala” (“floating with you down the River Ganges”... riiiiight). Two obscure cover tunes—Lil’ Hardin Armstrong’s “Let’s Get Happy Together” and Jack Guthrie’s “Shut That Gate”—fit nicely with the band’s sprightly originals. Charming, funny, snappy (no tune cracks the three-minute mark) and far more than merely a novelty act, the Two Man Gentleman Band have just soundtracked your next cocktail party.
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