Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Shadows

The Shadows The Shadows were quite the force to be reckoned with in the UK, though they were shutout in North America. The usual reason given is that the presence of The Ventures rendered them redundant, though I don’t know why that would be so. There was more than one girl group, more than one surf group, more than one male vocal harmony group, more than one Elvis wannabe, more than one Bobby. Surely Billboard could have made room for two instrumental groups sporting two guitars, bass, and drums.

My own Shadows collection was late in coming. I originally picked up Apache from The Roots Of British Rock, but in some moving-things-around mishap, I trashed it. So for a long time I didn’t even have Apache in my collection. I did pick up a couiple singles; one was F.B.I. – don’t ask me where I got that because I don’t remember – and one was The Rise And Fall Of Flingel Blunt, and I got that at the original Salvation Army Thrift Shop, a small store in the core area of town, and that was before they went into the thrift shop business big time in emulation of Value Village. Foot Tapper came from the Summer Holiday soundtrack. Then I missed an opportunity to pick up an LP collection at Records On Wheels, and I kicked myself, ouch, and for a long time my non-possession of a good Shadows collection left me with profound feelings of inadequacy. Eventually, however, I picked up a reasonably good collection of the hits they made during their most prolific period. I can now breathe easier, and save money on therapy bills. My copy of Foot Tapper is still the original; it was not on the CD collection I got.

Did I mention that The Shadows were Cliff Richard’s backup band until the mid 60s? They were. They were originally called The Drifters, but the organization surrounding the American Drifters changed that. They had a few dozen hits, in the UK and other countries, but not, as I said, in North America at all.

The Shadows:

Apache – Meant to convey an American Indian ambience, later versions added a whooshing sound throughout. Number 1 for The Shadows in the summer of 1960, the American hit came from Dane Jorgen Ingmann. The Ventures did a version from which they got a lot of mileage.
Man Of Mystery – From the autumn of 1960.
The Stranger – B side of Man Of Mystery
F.B.I. – From the winter of 1961.
The Frightened City – From the spring of 1961.
Kon Tiki – Number 1 in the autumn of 1961.
The Savage – From the autumn / winter of 1961.
Peace Pipe
Mustang – Must have been about a horse, because the car didn’t exist yet.
Wonderful Land – Number 1 in the winter of 1962.
Guitar Tango – From the summer of 1962.
Dance On – From the winter of 1962 / 1963.
Spring Is Nearly Here
Foot Tapper – Exactly that. From the winter of 1963.
Perfidia – A hit for The Ventures.
Atlantis – Not the Donovan song. From the summer of 1963.
Shotgun – Not the Jr. Walker & The All Stars hit.
Theme For Young Lovers – This doesn’t sound like the Percy Faith hit, but you never know. From the winter of 1964.
The Rise And Fall Of Flingel Bunt – There doesn’t seem to have been anybody named Flingel Bunt. Just as well, imagine *his* therapy bills. From the spring of 1964.
Stingray – From the summer of 1965.
A Place In The Sun – Not the Stevie Wonder song. This was from 1966.
Thuderbird’s Theme

1 comment:

Speedy Flinders said...

Interesting comments. I live in Australia where The Shadows have maintained a large fan base for 50 years, similarly in most of western Europe, NZ, South Africa. Cliff Richard & The Shadows did a 50th Anniversary World Tour in 2010 and they wowed everybody with their energy and musical brilliance. They are all approaching 70, in fact Cliff just turned 70. There won't be too many acts that can still pack stadiums after 50 years. Why they never took off in the States? Probably lack of promotion and maybe Cliff was too Elvis-influenced at the start. I always preferred the Shadows sound to the Ventures and the Spotniks, another big (Swedish) instrumental group of the day. The Shadows recordings were very clean and sonically brilliant and the Fender twang was just right, although they switched to the English Burns guitars for about 6 years. Hank Marvin, the lead guitarist still puts out recordings on his own and the other Shadows remain involved in all sorts of production and writing and arranging. They continued to put out recordings through the last 5 decades but although musically very good, they are covers and lack the excitement of the 60s stuff. If you want to hear how good they still can be, there's a Cliff/Shadows reunion cd that came out last year to mark their 50th anniversary.

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