The Unclaimed, Wong's West, Santa Monica

by Randall Wixen
issued on Music Connection

The players: Thom Hand, keyboards and guitar; Barry Shank, bass; Matt Roberts, drums; Sid Griffin, lead guitar; Shelley Ganz, guitar and lead vocals.
Material: the Unclaimed are fans of a bygone era-'60s punk. But rather than trying to re-live or recreate it, the band has chosen to integrate the period's finest elements into a contemporary format. Most of the material sounds like it could have been lifted from the Elektra (reissued on Sire) compilation Nuggets, but much of it is original. The best songs are their own The Sorrow, Cryptic Message, and Acid Song, and three obscure yet well-done covers. In general, simple, melodic, concise and very danceable tunes.
Musicianship: within the confines of relatively simple songs, there is little need for highly technical musical ability, but it's obvious that most of the Unclaimed are overly trained. This training is not wasted, however, as it allows the group to concentrate instead on showmanship. Lead singer Ganz is often hesitant with his guitar playing, but seems certain to get better with time.
Performance: clad in tight black pants and turtleneck shirts and wearing short, Brian Jones-styled hair, the group creates a stark image that contrasts with its vigorous, intense stage demeanor. Visually the band is stunning, as Shank and Roberts flail wildly at their respective instruments. Occasionally Ganz adds a jangly tambourine to fill out the sound. For all their care towards image, presentation and control, their set remains spontaneous.
Summary: look for the increased prominence of this band on the local scene. The group is capable of bringing tears to the eyes of grown-up rockers while easily satisfying the expectations of those newest to rock 'n' roll.

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