The Kaisers

Shake Me!

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Coming along four years after their last album, Shake Me! -- the Kaisers' fifth studio effort -- helps put to rest the rumors of their breakup, just when fans were wondering what happened to them. Whether they were close to splitting up or not isn't hinted at in the liner notes, which were reputedly penned by an stodgy old codger named "Wilhelm Wimbledon." Whoever he is, Wimbledon claims not to like the Kaisers' "new sound" much ("I thought someone stepped on the cat's tail for a moment!"), and says he prefers either "Elvis or Cliff." New sounds? Well, there's certainly nothing "new" to be found here. In fact, Shake Me! is firmly grounded in pre-Beatlemania terra firma that the band hasn't budged from since its first album, and it doesn't seem likely to be adding sitars to its lineup anytime soon. Not only do they look like they've just stepped off the Star Club stage in Hamburg -- wearing long-sleeve white dress shirts and black ties and carrying matching red Fender guitars -- they sound just like you'd expect them to. Obviously, there are clues here and there that this Scottish band (from Edinburgh, now living in London) is having a laugh at listeners' expense while having fun making music the old-fashioned way, circa 1962-1963. In addition to the early Fabs, they also sound a bit like the Swinging Blue Jeans, the Roulettes, and the Escorts, to name just a few more, thanks in no small part to producer Liam Watson, who obviously has a knack for helping them achieve that Merseybeat sound they're so obviously addicted to. Watson produced the album at his all-analog London-based Toe Rag studio (which is reportedly filled with vintage eight-track recorders and archaic Abbey Road and Decca soundboards). Like the Kaisers' other albums, Shake Me! mixes Merseybeat intros (inspired by Hank Marvin & the Shadows) with hip-swingin' vocal numbers. The only cover song here, a beat standard called "Just a Little Bit," was previously recorded by the band on its 1998 album, Twist With the Kaisers.

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