Chicken Shack

The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions

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Formed and led by guitarist/vocalist Stan Webb, Chicken Shack were one of the first bands to be signed to the Blue Horizon label in the mid-'60s. As of this compilation's release in 2006, Webb was still fronting a version of the group. While never attaining any success in the States, Chicken Shack were well known in the U.K., with fleeting success second only to John Mayall and labelmates Fleetwood Mac. Webb's Freddie King-styled guitar and vocalist/pianist Christine Perfect's (later McVie) singing were the major draws to this second-tier British blues band, but neither were strong enough to carry the group's success to the U.S. market. This three-disc set collects the band's entire output for the imprint from 1967-1969 and includes alternate takes, singles, and B-sides (56 tracks in all), and also features terrific liner notes by label head/producer Mike Vernon. Perfect stayed for two of four releases for the label, exiting before the recording of 1969's 100 Ton Chicken. Hence she appears on about half of this disc, leaving after the U.K. hit single "I'd Rather Go Blind." Webb's often wobbly but amiable singing is an acquired taste, so Perfect's husky, smooth vocals and classy blues piano runs were major contributions to the band, and strong points they never adequately replaced. Occasional use of horns distinguished Chicken Shack from both Mac and Savoy Brown, another band very much in the Shack style and one with whom they swapped members. These three discs include the contents of four albums and assorted singles, with much of this music hard to obtain. The remastering is excellent, too, and it's safe to say that Chicken Shack have never sounded better. But the band wasn't strong or innovative enough to maintain interest over these four albums, making this all-inclusive set essential only for fans, collectors, and those looking to research the roots of Christine Perfect's pre-Fleetwood Mac sultry blues-tinged pop. Everyone else can make due with 2004's The Very Best of Chicken Shack, a single disc that cherry-picks the better tunes from the Blue Horizon era.

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