The Hangmen: Bittersweet (1966)

BAND INFO AND MORE (garageHangover)

With Mike Henley and Joe Triplett away at college, Tom and Bob Berberich joined another band, the Hangmen, with bassist Mike West and rhythm guitarist George Daly, fellow students at Montgomery Junior College. The same month the Reekers were getting attention around DC with Don't Call Me Flyface, a photo of the Hangmen appeared in the April 3, 1965 Evening Star with a caption explaining the Hangmen had lost a battle of the bands at the Shirlington Shopping Center to the Shadows. Tom confirms the story that needing a singer who sounded English, George called the British Embassy asking for someone who could sing! The singer they found was Dave Ottley, a hairdresser variously reported as being from Liverpool, London or Scotland.
In early summer of '65, a friend of Tom's named Larry played What a Girl Can't Do for Fred Foster of Monument Records. Lillian Claiborne graciously released Tom from his contract with her and Foster signed him - only Tom as he was the songwriter and leader of the Reekers. Since Joe Triplett and Mike Henley were committed to college, Tom decided, against his own preferences, to work with the Hangmen as his band. Monument then released the Reekers' recordings of What a Girl Can't Do and The Girl Who Faded Away under the Hangmen's name, even though only Tom and Bob Berberich had played on them.
Some sources report that the Hangmen rerecorded the The Girl Who Faded Away for the Monument 45. A close listen shows that the Hangmen's Monument 45 version is actually the same recording as the Reekers' original Edgewood acetate, except that the acetate had a long ending that was cut from the Monument 45. Confusion also exists about What A Girl Can't Do. The Monument 45 version released under the Hangmen's name is the Reekers. In 1966 the Hangmen recorded their own version of the song for their LP, which sounds much different.
Arnold Stahl, a lawyer, and Mike Klavans of WTTG formed 427 Enterprises to promote the band. Their connections landed gigs for the Hangmen in embassies and a mention in Newsweek. One memorable event was playing a party for Robert Kennedy's family and getting drunk in their kitchen!
Despite these connections, the Hangmen were still primarily a suburban band, playing for kids at parties and shopping malls but not getting into the clubs like the big DC acts like the British Walkers and the Chartbusters. This would change as the Monument 45 of What A Girl Can't Do started gaining momentum locally.

The Hangmen recorded a fine follow up, Faces, and this time Monument put some money into promotion, taking out a full page ad in the trade magazines. Propelled by fuzz guitar and a heavy bass line, Faces is a tough garage number with a fine vocal by Ottley. Tom points out that the song finishes quite a bit faster than it starts, making it difficult for those on the dance floor to keep up! The flip is another Guernsey/Daly original, Bad Goodbye, which features studio musician Charlie McCoy on harmonica.



henry said...

another new one to me - quite enjoyable stuff, and thanks for bringing "new" music for old guys like me .... take care.

eric said...

hola pablo, felcidades por tu blog y espero que sigas asi, bueno de mi parte quiero pedirte si podrias darme pase a tu blog de " musica acida" que no puedo entrar soy un fan mas de the doors y siempre he mandado mis comentarios como anonimo, mi nombre es eric, quiero pedirte si podrias consederme ese favor.
muchas gracias.

espero tu respuesta.

Maximiliano said...

Me encantaron los dos extremos,
el delicado "I wanna get to know you"
y el salvaje, con la rendiciĆ²n del clasico de Van "Gloria".
Una joya.

Anonymous said...

hello, can you re-upload please? the link is not good anymore

Delta said...

That would be helpful.

Anonymous said...

please reup this i have a scratchy vinyl of this album and its amazing and would love to hear a better copy

Anonymous said...

re-upload this link please

Anonymous said...

A huge amount of information was left out of the article. For starters, Dave Otley was gone way before the album came out, replaced by Tony Taylor. Dave sang on the single, but Tony sang on the album. Word was that Dave would get drafted if he stayed in the States. As The Hangmen were breaking up, they briefly reorganized the lineup with Nils Lofgren and played the Wahington Monument. They went to LA and became the first rendition of GRIN. George Daly went on to significant success as an AR man for several major labels. Arnold Stahl was married to my English teacher! The Hangman may not have achieved national success, but they were a GREAT BAND !!!!
Peace & Love, Rocky Walker

The Bomber said...

Thanks a lot for the info dear Rocky ! ! Certainly they guys were great and originally, thats why I created this tiny little bloggie. To remember those guys who kicked (quietly) a** back in the days ! !

Great hearing from you man !

inky-winky said...

Thanks a lot for another wonderful write – up, interesting details you have remarked – great info!


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