Johnny Kidd & the Pirates

Shakin' All Over

Song Review by

"Shakin' All Over" was the earliest British rock song to become an international rock'n'roll standard, even if took about a decade to do so. It's true that there had been some outstanding rock'n'roll records made in Britain before "Shakin' All Over" made #3 in mid-1960, particularly Cliff Richard's "Move It" and Vince Taylor and His Playboys' "Brand New Cadillac." But "Shakin' All Over" was the one that would eventually become about as famous the world over as it was in the United Kingdom. Johnny Kidd & the Pirates had already made some exciting rock'n'roll records prior to this single, but they weren't nearly as classic as this one, which featured a more menacing guitar sound than had ever graced a British release. Particularly striking was the opening descending run, just a run down a basic scale, but done with a sharp yet menacing tone, like a hand running over a razor blade. The riff was repeated at various dramatic pauses in the track, and played not by Kidd or one of the Pirates but by session guitarist Joe Moretti. After that riff opens the record unaccompanied, a basic grinding ominous guitar pattern kicks in, like a jungle tussle slowed to a crawl as a predictor circles around its victim. When Johnny Kidd sings the lyric about quivering and shaking when his girl draws close, he sounds like he's trembling more or less equally with sexual excitement and fear of being devoured. The verse suddenly comes to a dead stop, and a guitar note rings out like a stab in the heart. That's the signal for Kidd to moan "quivers down my backbone," and the band to start up again for Kidd to finish the chorus, coming to another dramatic dead stop right before he wails the title phrase. The instrumental break is a real highlight, the band kicking into gear with a tense drum roll before Moretti unleashes a rippling, devious solo. It's also cool the way Kidd mutters sensually during the slow fadeout. In many ways, "Shakin' All Over" helped set the model for the kind of tough, riff-based rock expanded upon by the raunchier bands of the British Invasion, the best of whom had better singers than Kidd. Unbelievably, it was originally hastily written as the B-side of a cover of the old standard "Yes Sir That's My Baby," before the songs were wisely flipped. "Shakin' All Over" was not a hit in the United States, but became a pretty big North American hit in the mid-1960s in a tamer but decent version by the Guess Who, which made #22 in the US in 1965. The cover that really made it an international rock standard, however, was the Who's (no relation, of course, to the Guess Who). The Who had featured it as a highlight of their concerts long before they released it officially on their Top Five 1970 Live at Leeds album, giving it a far more updated hard rock treatment, Roger Daltrey's vocal exuding far more serious threat than Kidd's original. Because of its inclusion on the album and at many Who concerts over the course of decades, it's more well known now as a Who song than a Johnny Kidd or Guess Who one, and has been adapted by many bar bands. If you're interested in a couple of fairly cool mid-1960s covers of the tune that never became well known, however, check out the ones by Liverpool band the Swingin' Blue Jeans, Alex Harvey & His Soul Band (from 1964, long before Harvey became star in the UK), and the heavily-accented one by the German group the Lords.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Shakin' All Over 1971 Wise Buy
No Image 1977 Disky
No Image 1987
Millennium Box Set 1999
Various Artists
Disky 2:21
No Image 1999
Various Artists
Disky
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Disky 2:19
Totally Number 1 Hits of the 60s 2001
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:20
Complete Collection 2001
Various Artists
Disky 2:20
20 UK No. 1's from the 60s 2005
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 2:22
The Wedding Collection: Classical/Party/Love 2006
Various Artists
AAO Music / United Audio Entertai / United Multimedia 0:00
Original 60's Number 1's Album 2006
Various Artists
EMI 2:20
Greatest Hits of the 60's 2006
Various Artists
Disky 2:20
Rockin' Bones: 1950s Punk and Rockabilly 2006
Various Artists
Rhino 2:23
101 60's Hits [EMI] 2007
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:19
Cavern: The Most Famous Club in the World 2007
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:21
The Original 60's Box Set 2007
Various Artists
EMI 2:20
Pure: Rock and Roll 2007
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:21
Pure: 60s [EMI] 2007
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:21
101 Rock 'N' Roll Songs 2008
Various Artists
Virgin 2:19
Dreamboats and Petticoats, Vol. 2 2008
Various Artists
Universal Records 2:19
100 Hits Rock 'n' Roll [EMI] 2008
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:22
British Rock 'n' Roll Anthology 2009
Various Artists
Spectrum Music 2:20
The Best Sixties Album in the World...Ever! [2009] 2009
Various Artists
EMI 2:19
Original Hits: Number 1's 2009
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:20
Lipstick on Your Collar: 62 Vintage Jukebox Classics 2010
Various Artists
EMI 2:19
60's Summer Party 2011
Various Artists
EMI Gold 2:19
Good Vibrations [EMI] 2011
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:19
Please Don't Touch! The 1959-1962 Recordings 2013 Hoo Doo Records 2:21
The Ultimate Collection: Driving Songs 2014
Various Artists
Union Square Music / Universal 2:19
Massive Hits!: Number 1s
Various Artists
EMI 2:21
Oil City Confidential EMI Music Distribution 2:21
No Image
Various Artists
Play 24-7 / Play 27-7 2:22
Rock N Roll Masterpieces
Various Artists
Play 27-7 2:22
Sounds of the Sixties: Number Ones
Various Artists
EMI Gold / EMI Music Distribution 2:20
The History of Rock 'n' Roll, Vol. 5 [Excalibur]
Various Artists
Excalibur
The Hits That Rocked the Airwaves
Various Artists
Universal 2:22