Gene Vincent

Shakin' Up a Storm

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Virtually everything on Gene Vincent's final EMI album, Shakin' Up a Storm, is superb, representing some of his best rock & roll from a decade in which he went years between albums. Cut with the backing group the Shouts and released only in England, Shakin' Up a Storm is an unusual record, containing elements of the burgeoning Merseybeat sound and soft-rock covers of country songs. The album (which has been reissued as part of EMI's 100th Anniversary series, in glittering 24-bit sound) starts off well with a raucous "Hey Hey Hey," fueled by the fiery saxwork of Jim Field. It then switches gears on "Lavender Blue," a soft ballad that was more Elvis Presley's speed (though Vincent does surprisingly well, singing as softly as he knows how), before launching into the rockabilly-style "Private Detective," on which Tim Bates' lead guitar shines. "Shimmy Shammy Shingle" is a thumping number that, with a heavier bass sound, could've passed for a Liverpool-style rocker, and "Someday (You'll Want Me to Want You)" is a decent cover of a pop standard. Vincent's abilities as an R&B singer -- showcased on his magnificent 1963 single "Where Have You Been All My Life" -- are highlighted several times on Shakin' Up a Storm, most notably on a cover of Sam Cooke's "Another Saturday Night," on which Vincent's voice is richly expressive and the mix of rhythm guitar and organ accompaniment adds a nice, new wrinkle to the song. "Slippin' & Slidin'," featuring Bates' rippling lead guitar and a great vocal performance from Vincent, is a stomping rocker that could've passed for a first-rate Merseybeat track. Vincent also does well with "Send Me Some Lovin'," which allows him to stretch out vocally in front of a sax and rhythm guitar arrangement. "Love Love Love," with its multi-tracked vocals and bouncy rhythm guitar part, sounds like a direct attempt to emulate the Merseybeat sound. It opens a series of songs that ought to have given Vincent's detractors pause; he might not have charted a record in a couple of years when this album was issued -- even in England -- but he could still generate exciting music in almost any rock & roll idiom. "Baby Blue," co-authored by Vincent and featuring pounding support by the Shouts, sounds like it was snatched straight out of one of Gene's 1957 sessions. The producers could've ended Shakin' Up a Storm with the blazing "Suzie Q," but instead they threw on one more number, a hard-rocking rendition of Jimmie Davis' "You Are My Sunshine." Featuring Victor Clarke's heavy drumming, Field's honking sax, and a hot performance by organist Erik Baker, the song nonetheless belongs to Vincent, who transforms this country-pop classic into a serious rock & roll screamer.

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