Bobby Vee - Bobby Vee With The...
Bobby Vee With The...
Bobby Vee & The Strangers - Look At Me Girl (1966)
The Strangers studio group behind Bobby Vee on several recordings.
Bobby Vee & The Shadows - The Early Rockin' Years (1995)
Cliff Richard & The Shadows - Established 1958 (1968)
Established 1958 was a tenth anniversary effort by Cliff Richard & the Shadows, reuniting singer and band after several years of establishing separate musical identities. It showcases the songwriting of the bandmembers -- Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch, Brian Bennett, and John Rostill, who, singly or in combination, wrote everything here -- and Richard's preferred style of the period, an adult pop/rock style not too far removed from what Neil Diamond was doing on the opposite side of the Atlantic (except that Richard didn't write songs). Seven vocal numbers feature Richard and seven mixed instrumental and vocal numbers showcase the band exclusively, but little of it ever gets near to the sounds contemporary to 1968, and it was albums like this -- far removed from Richard's efforts at sounding up-to-date, such as Don't Stop Me Now -- that pegged the singer as a British-only pop phenomenon for the next half-decade or more. "Oh La La" is the only up-to-date, real rock & roll number here, and it might've passed muster as a comeback single in the same manner that "Kentucky Rain" did for Elvis Presley, keeping his credibility alive at the time, separate from his movies, for those still listening -- it has some of the urgency and allure of Richard's best solo singles. Some of the other cuts, such as "Somewhere by the Sea," sort of rock, with a beat and some crunchy guitars out in front, and the novelty instrumental "The Magical Mrs. Clamps" shows off the most informal, comical side of the Shadows (who could sound like the early Nitty Gritty Dirt Band when they wanted to). Otherwise, this record is more identified by the slow, very sentimental ballad "The Girl on the Bus," which features Richard and the band with accompaniment arranged by producer Norrie Paramor, or "Maggie's Samba" by Brian Bennett, which sounds like part of a movie score in search of a film. It was a natural fit for U.K. listeners accustomed to Richard and with their own pop perceptions, but would have flown right past American listeners, although its has its moments and some nice, somewhat formalistic pop/rock virtuosity to recommend it four decades on
Cliff Richard & The Shadows - Thank You Very Much (1978)
Thank You Very Much: London Palladium Reunion Concert
Recorded at the London Palladium on March 4, 1978, this live concert release is one of the most appealing and rewarding of all post-'60s Cliff Richard releases as a career overview as a well as a performance document, and one of the best Shadows releases of the late '70s. On vinyl, it was a choice import for much of the first half of the '80s, although the CD version has been much more difficult to find. Reuniting Richard with guitarists Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch for a 20th anniversary commemorative concert, Richard and the Shadows perform a selection of their best-known songs across the decades -- for the band these include the instrumentals "Apache," "Shadoogie," "Atlantis," and "Nivram," while Richard performs "Move It," "The Young Ones" (with a surprisingly effective electronic keyboard accompaniment in lieu of the strings used in the original), "Willie and the Hand Jive," "Do You Wanna Dance," "The Day I Met Marie," and "Devil Woman." Richard is in fine voice and Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch are both in stunning form throughout, Marvin's fiery yet clean and tasteful leads and Welch's melodic yet powerfully propulsive rhythm guitar (supported by Brian Bennett's drumming) drawing the listener in and adding just enough that's new to the material to make it worth adding to one's collection. One does wish that there was some more annotation about the event or the full personnel, but as pure music this is a first-rate release, whose only frustrating point is its length -- when it was on vinyl, the hourlong show was mastered at a very low volume, whereas on CD (paired with Richard's Green Light album) one wishes it ran longer. Indeed, the only real question is whether the 15 songs here were all that was performed at this show -- and also, while we're at it, what became of the video that was shot simultaneously with the recording. But regardless, this CD is a keeper, not just for Cliff Richard or Shadows fans, but for anyone who wants to hear what pre-Beatles British rock & roll at its best could sound like.
The Shadows - More Hits! (1965)
If the first Shadows hits collection was an unimpeachable masterpiece, their second is, if you'll pardon the pun, a mere shadow of its brilliance. Not that there is anything whatsoever amiss with the contents. "Foot Tapper," "Atlantis," "Shindig," and so on were all remarkable hits -- remarkable, that is, not only for their instrumental prowess, but also because they proved the Shadows were still a vibrant concern, long after rock and pop had moved into the middle-age crisis of the mid-1960s. "The Rise and Fall of Flingel Bunt," "Genie With the Light Brown Lamp," and the admirably raucous "Rhythms and Greens" are all here for hit completists; so is "Mary Anne," the group's first vocal hit and proof that there was life beyond the trademark tang. Indeed, a dozen hits take the band's story up through the release of the mawkish masterpiece "Don't Make My Baby Blue," while two quaintly oddball cuts from the Rhythms and Greens EP complete the set. Even at the band's best, however, little here has more than a passing resonance in comparison with the megaliths of the past. In their prime, a new Shadows single hit you with all the physical and emotional impact of the first date of your dreams. By 1965, they were more like old friends -- you'd pass on the street, swear you'd get together again sometime, then dismiss them from your mind. There's some great music here. But once you've got the first hits collection, do you really need anything more?
The Shadows - Shadows Are Go! (1960-66)
The Shadows enjoyed 20 British hits between 1960 and 1965, and this is their first American compilation. So we probably don't even want to wonder what that says for the Great American Record-Buying Public, smug, snug, and secure behind their piles of Ventures vinyl and sorry surf compilations, blissfully oblivious that a mere ocean away, entire generations were shaking to the Shads.
You know the songs, of course, effortlessly magnificent guitar standards one and all: "Apache," which Jorgen Ingmann took to copycat heights back in 1960; "Wonderful Land," which Mike Oldfield later executed with heart-aching majesty; TV's "Thunderbirds Theme," "FBI," and "Perfidia." These melodies are scored into your brainpan regardless of whether you know, or even care, that the Shadows used to be Cliff Richard's backing band, or that the horn-rim headed Hank Marvin has been cited as a major influence by every guitarist from Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page on down. The Shadows' story isn't all rosy, of course. As the smashes dried up in the mid- to late '60s, their efforts did become desperate and drippy. Shadows Are Go!, though, has no time for torment; it's just bang bang bang, through the hits till they hurt -- and with a cutoff date of 1966, there's not a vocal cord in sight. Through "Kon Tiki," "Atlantis," "Guitar Tango," and "Frightened City," its 23 tracks take your senses by storm, easy listening burned through with a vitality that makes a mockery of the unhip reputation the band (like their boss man) acquired après Beatles. Indeed, though later sensibilities found the band's music frequently included in the lounge kitsch hall of fame, the Shadows shake that specter off in the same way as Elvis Presley retained his rock sensibilities long after his life turned to schmaltz. The fact is, this band was kicking butt while you were still saying "bottom," and this isn't a retrospective after all. It's a manifesto.