The Shadows

The Sound of the Shadows

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The Shadows' fourth album (not counting hits collections) follows on from Dance with the Shadows. The common perception among Americans watching from afar and British historians who just don't know is that the Shadows were operating in a vacuum during the 1960s, oblivious to the pop music universe swirling around them, but their mid-'60s albums tell a different story -- the band tries hard to be a mainstream rock & roll outfit without betraying their roots as a virtuoso instrumental ensemble. "A Little Bitty Tear," "Let It Be Me," and "Five Hundred Miles" are attempts at successful vocal numbers, and not bad -- they harmonize beautifully on the latter two. All of these do rather get lost in the shuffle, amid slow instrumental ballads like "Blue Sky, Blue Sea, Blue Me" (which features the band supported by the Norrie Paramor Strings) and harder dance numbers like "Bossa Roo" and "Breakthru'," but the vocal efforts are valid. The latter track is a great showcase for John Rostill's bass and Marvin's lead picking and Welch's melodic rhythm guitar. Surprisingly, drummer Brian Bennett isn't quite as visible on this record, as either a songwriter or on his instrument, as he was on their other albums of this era -- in his place, John Rostill shares songwriting with both Marvin and Welch on four numbers featured on this album. Some of the outside songwriting is a bit lacking in imagination, most notably Jerry Lordan's "Santa Ana," which often seems one note away from turning into "La Bamba." By contrast, "Dean's Theme" by Hank Marvin and John Rostill is a bluesy little venture that's a bit different for the quartet, although the best (and hardest rocking) number on the album is an outside composition, a driving instrumental called "Breakthru'." The sound throughout is more than good, but not as radiant here as it is on several of the group's other remastered CD editions -- this one was done in 1997, not 1998, and although it features 24-bit digital audio mastering and the same noise reduction process, the later releases are more successful. Additionally, the CD version predates the decision by EMI to include the mono and stereo mixes together on the same compact disc.

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