Shadows of Knight

Shadows of Knight

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In 1966, the Shadows of Knight were the biggest band on the Chicago garage rock scene, having hit the charts with the massive hit single "Gloria" and a solid follow-up, "Oh Yeah." However, three years later things didn't look so rosy for the group -- after a multitude of lineup changes, lead singer Jim Sohns was the only original member left in the Shadows of Knight, and the record company that had put them on the charts, Dunwich, had effectively gone out of business. Determined to stay in the game, Sohns and bassist Lee Brovitz put together a new version of the band and signed a recording deal with Super K Productions, the masterminds behind such bubblegum acts as the Ohio Express and the 1910 Fruitgum Company. While Super K producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz scored a final hit for the Shadows of Knight with "Shake," the self-titled album that followed is a bit of a mess. Kasenetz and Katz were more interested in hits than the concept of group identity (no great shock there), and with the Shadows of Knight going through a bit of a personality crisis after so much personnel turnover, the result was an album that wanders all over the stylistic map -- along with the sort of sneering garage rock that was their stock in trade ("I Wanna Make You All Mine" and a different version of "Shake") and a lascivious blues workout on "Back Door Man," SoK wade though some clumsy psychedelia ("Uncle Wiggley's Airship"), attitudinal proto-punk ("I Am What I Am"), hard rock with lots of guitar soloing ("I'll Set You Free" and "Bluebird"), and moody pop ("Alone" and "Times & Places"). Without much in the way of a musical focus (and with Kasenetz and Katz reportedly loading down the songs with instrumental overdubs without the group's OK), Shadows of Knight sounds more like a multi-artist compilation than an album by one of the great acts of the garage rock era, and in this case that's not a compliment, though there are enough great moments to make this an interesting curio if not an especially effective album.

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