• Source: Shadsfax 53 (2008) p. 9
  • Reviewer: Bernie O'Hara

    Many of you will be familiar with the authors of this book, Rob Bradford, Les Woosey and editor, Malcolm Campbell, all of whom have been noted authorities on the Shads for quite a number of years. This book represents a comprehensive review of every officially released Shadows recording (572 in total) released between 1959 and 2004, and draws upon reviews, interviews with group members through the years, recording paperwork, CD/ LP liner notes (many of which were written by the authors) and anecdotes from both those associated directly with the group (such as bassist Mo Foster) and other noted enthusiasts, such as George Geddes and Stuart Duffy – and is quite simply a ‘must have’ for both the casual Shadows music lover and the serious collector.

    Releases are reviewed in chronological order beginning in 1959, with a brief synopsis of activity in the year under review, followed by a detailed, track by track review of each release from that year, easily facilitating direct access to the tracks/ period the reader takes an interest in. The guide is simply full of fascinating information – did you know, for example, that it is likely that only Hank and Brian played on ‘Mountains Of The Moon’?; or that ‘Shoba’ was named after Hank’s favourite curry house in Perth?; that Hank and his son Ben planned to record ‘Slaughter On 10th Avenue’ for a proposed Ventures tribute album in 1996 which never happened?; or that ‘The Old Romantics’ (from ‘Life In The Jungle’) was a play on the emergence of the ‘New Romantics’ of the early 80s such as Spandau Ballet? A personal favourite snippet of information was that the album ‘Change Of Address’ was largely recorded at Abbey Road, despite the group’s change of label from EMI to Polydor in 1980 – and that the paperwork for the recording of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’ for this album was written ‘Albert Ross’!!!

    Of course our editor, Malcolm Campbell, a distinguished academic, has ensured that the information is presented in a clear, orderly and concise manner – as in his previous publications – and he has tackled head on, for example, the seemingly accepted wisdom that ‘Guardian Angel’ is the greatest and most loved album of the 80s, or that the ‘covers’ period (particularly from ‘Moonlight Shadows’ to ‘Reflection’) should be ignored, or that ‘Shades Of Rock’ is an exceptionally poor offering – taking each album track by track and arguing that there are high points and low points on each release.

    Of particular interest is the dissection of the perpetual conclusion by rock and pop writers in Britian that there was nothing before The Beatles, which occupies a couple of pages in the introduction to this book. While none of us would dare to try and diminish the influence and talent of The Beatles – whose achievements will probably never be equalled – our authors argue that in house songwriting, style and screaming girls did not suddenly commence with the advent of the mop tops in 1963.

    All in all, an entertaining and fantastic reference point, the culmination of many years research. At only £9.95, I would urge you to ensure you add a copy to your collection.

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