The Shadows

The Complete Shadows

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Well, the title's misleading, for a start. How a mere hundred songs could ever claim to represent the complete Shadows is a mystery that only this box set's compilers can answer. But completist collectors and cynical pedants notwithstanding, this remarkable package does go a long way toward telling the story of the band, from the peerless string of hits with which they dominated the U.K. charts of the early '60s, through to the traveling jukebox that they became two decades later, and via enough stylistic changes to make a mockery of any attempt to nail them simply as a guitar band. Whether one package can actually sustain so many changes is another matter entirely. Anybody buying this for the joys of the band's instrumental years is certainly going to lose interest by the time they turned into a vocal band, while their later penchant for simply grabbing hold of a popular song (or movie or television theme) and Shadowizing it is little more than Muzak when compared to the heights they once scaled. It's a long way from "Apache" to the theme from East Enders and, though the playing remains faultless every step of the way, you can't help but wonder what would have become of the Shadows' legacy had they called it quits in 1967. Baffling, too, is the decision to eschew chronology and allow the songs to fall where they will. Again, it never slips so hard that you forget who you're listening to, but recording methods changed a lot in the years (sometimes decades) that separate the songs, and the juxtaposition can be jarring. So it's not the complete Shadows, and it's nowhere near perfect, either. But you do get a lot of Shadows for your bucks, and maybe that's all that matters.