Recently, I’ve exchanged small talk with Jay and Beth Sorrentino of Suddenly, Tammy! through a mutual friend on facebook (and in real life). I’m amazed how life sometimes comes full circle… almost 20 years ago, I would spin Suddenly, Tammy’s major-label debut record “We Get There When We Do” ENDLESSLY, man. I have two copies of it– one is regular, another is a promo. I know I’m not the only one who listened to them endlessly, in the mid-90s. I’m so grateful to chit-chat with them both briefly, on facebook… someday soon, we’ll probably meet and talk shop, maybe even play some music together (that’d be a dream come true for this guy). So, all personal swooning and bragging aside….
I first heard of Suddenly, Tammy! from a CMJ magazine… their song “Hard Lesson” was on one of their included CDs that I still have (from that disc, I spun that song THE MOST!). Side note: CMJ fucking changed my life, and really got me into better music. A friend of mine has EVERY SINGLE DISC EVER RELEASED. And one of these days, I will borrow them ALL from him, and rip/digitize them.
What made Suddenly, Tammy! so important is that they were a piano-led indie/alt/pop trio, that did the piano-rock thing when NO ONE was doing it. Everyone was a guitar/noise/fuzz thing…. everyone seemed to be copying Nirvana, Pavement, Sonic Youth, and all the other guitar-based bands of the era. But NO ONE was doing a piano trio thing.
S,T! did this a couple years before Ben Folds Five won a grammy for “Brick” (from, what I believe was their second, and most well-known album). Suddenly, Tammy! were together for several years before Ben Folds Five broke big… as they both had albums released on independent labels before their sophomore releases (both on major labels), but Suddenly, Tammy!’s came a few years before Ben Folds Five’s.
Musically— Beth’s soaring vocals, laced with addictive sugary hooks… and I mean ALL OVER every single one of their songs…. (and with her gorgeous voice, faintly resembling Tanya Donnely’s, of the band Belly, but with a more intense, powerful timbre) just made you instantly love the band. Then you had Jay’s drumming, which was/is rock solid… and the bass player (I forget his name as I write this)… everything just sounded awesome / tight… slight overdrive on the bass, really giving it a nice, powerful sound… very similar to the overdriven bass on Ben Folds Five’s “Whatever and Ever Amen”.
These days, Beth and her brother Jay are still active in the Philly and NYC music scenes (as they well should be!). For a while, Beth was living in NYC, teaching piano and releasing a handful of solo records, which I’ve yet to give my full attention to (though I’m absolutely sure I’ll be impressed).
For now though…. enjoy the awesome, insanely hooky sounds of Suddenly, Tammy!