Having already scored three major U.K. smashes, the Shadows confirmed their independence from singer Cliff Richard with an eponymous album which rates among the most accomplished British LPs of the pre-Beatles era, and one of the most influential rock instrumental sets ever. An entire generation of would-be guitar heroes learned their licks from Hank Marvin and the Shadows, an accolade which a star-studded, mid-1990s tribute album certainly affirms. But the bespectacled guitarist was not the band's sole star. Drummer Tony Meehan's "See You in My Drums," like bassist Jet Harris' "Jet Black" single of two years previous, is a gripping showcase for his own remarkable talents, while "Baby My Heart" unveils vocal talents which, again, the group's earliest singles alone had illustrated. Modern listeners, schooled in the axeman excesses of more recent years, will doubtlessly find The Shadows impossibly well-mannered and implausibly sedentary. Low-key instrumentals like "Blue Star," "Sleepwalk," and "Nivram" (the inspiration behind Peter Frampton's "Theme From Nivram") scarcely begin to speak of the frenetic abuses which the likes of Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, and Eric Clapton would one day wring from their instruments. What they did do, however, was illustrate the untapped possibilities of the guitar, a lesson which Marvin might have taken his time in teaching, but which was vivid all the same.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson