Rockin' with Curly Leads

The Shadows

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Rockin' with Curly Leads Review

by Dave Thompson

Re-forming after a four year absence, the Shadows broke into the 1970s with an almost brutal lack of restraint -- and an instrumental version of the Who's "Pinball Wizard"/"See Me Feel Me," which rearranges the simplistic original with fiendish aplomb. A decade earlier, Hank Marvin was the idol of every would-be guitarist in the U.K.. By 1973, those would-bes were the hottest shots around, but Marvin wasn't even slightly phased. "Pinball Wizard," on the other hand, is. It's also wah-wahed, echoed, and everything else he can throw into the pot. An astonishing workout -- and only the beginning of the treats in store. Almost without exception, the 11 songs which followed completely rewrite the Shadows' intended role in this brave new world. News of their reunion was greeted with a weary sigh, and the inescapable suspicion that they were back to ride the nostalgia circuit and build up their pension funds with re-creations of their past. Instead, there's not a note in sight which even wants to sound like "Apache." In fairness, "Good Vibrations" probably didn't need to be revisited, and the single "Turn Around And Touch Me" is pretty weak as well. But "Wide Eyed Frog" is a swampy, Shaft-y burble; "Gutbucket" is a churning, funky stomp; "Jumpin' Jack Input" is a firestorm boogie. True, the album is a little more polite than it could have been; true, too, once Hank Marvin has run through his arsenal of wild effects a couple of times, they don't seem so special (or wild) any longer. But in an age which had already seen so many old rockers make decidedly slight returns, Curly Leads at least knows what year it now is.

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