With their eighth chart-topper (in 1980), a younger supergroup, Abba, provided one of the high spots on Hits Right Up Your Street. THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL, one of Agnetha Fältskog’s finest vocal performances, is turned into an instrumental of the highest quality, the changes of tempo managed to perfection - and what a bassline! What a pity The Shadows did not call upon Abba’s rich catalogue more often in the 80s.
Our final Number One of the survey, from 1981, was a revival of a song of the 1940s. The bouncy THIS OLE HOUSE, taken into the higher reaches of our charts by both Rosemary Clooney and Billie Anthony in 1954, was given a specifically rock/ rockabilly treatment by producer Stuart Coleman for Shakin’ Stevens - a treatment mirrored in the animated version on this Album.
A trio of Number Twos from 1980/81 remain to be considered. By far the most impressive is the riveting version of Ennio Morricone’s CHI MAI from the BBC TV series ‘The Life And Times Of David Lloyd George’.1 Morricone’s arrangement is followed closely, but Hank softens the shrill string-tone of the original (see further on #11 below).
In the wake of her dazzling contribution to The Crusaders’ epic ‘Street Life’ of 1979, Randy Crawford made the big time here in her own right in 1980 with the Sample-Jennings ballad ONE DAY I’LL FLY AWAY. The Shadows’ version, though impeccably arranged, is arguably just too laid-back given the intensity of Crawford’s vocal delivery and its incisive accompaniment. On the other hand, one critic commended this as "a beautiful ‘modern jazz’ interpretation": an illustration of how perceptions of music can vary.
The final number in this review could hardly fail to appeal to devotees of the Fender guitar and one of its most distinguished exponents - an effortlessly flowing rendition of the Bobby Vee hit MORE THAN I CAN SAY, which Leo Sayer, supported by Alan Tarney and Trevor Spencer, had taken to Number Two (both here and in the USA) in 1980.2
Taken overall, Hits Right Up Your Street is a fine Album, highlighting the group’s versatility. The four "originals", accomplished as they are, do not by any means tower above the rest of the set: a number of the derivative pieces - notably MISTY, THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL, CHI MAI and MORE THAN I CAN SAY - demonstrated that the sophisticated guitar-led instro was still alive and well in the early 1980s.
In terms of chart position, Hits Right Up Your Street did slightly better than Change Of Address; in terms of number of weeks in the charts, it did significantly better: the next Album to match it in this respect would be one with no "originals" at all - Moonlight Shadows in 1986. And so, when it came to Polydor putting out back catalogue in CD format, Change ... lagged behind Hits ... by a clear five years (cf. on #2).
1 In fact, the tune was composed originally
for an Italian movie, ‘Maddalena’: see Record Collector No. 270
(February 2002) 109.
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