This survey sets out to identify the best that compact disc has to offer, in terms of sound quality and/or presentation, from two decades worth of Shadows’ recordings: not every recording they made, but the chief and most important representatives of their studio work as released on Singles, on EP and on LP. Not everybody wishes to own every last track with every last count-in, or every variant version under the sun, or to horde material, much of it of dubious pedigree, which comes under the must-have-though-I’ll-never-listen-to-it-in-a-million-years category.
For Singles, the latest addition to The Shadows’ catalogue is also one of the most important:
“Complete Singles: As & Bs 1959–1980: 21 Years At The Top”, EMI (4CD) 7243 578181 2 4, released May 2004.
Despite one or two tracks which could have been better implemented, and an exceptionally ponderous title, this is a fine collection with superb annotation from Rob Bradford, and is certain to constitute for the foreseeable future the principal source for the group’s UK Singles releases.
But if you see yourself as more of a purist, you will want as many as possible of these tracks in mono too. After all, most Shadows fans in the 60s, in the first half of the 60s in particular, would have grown up with the mono cuts of the classic tracks: for the greater part of that decade the Singles were put out in this mode, and stereo versions were often slow to follow, if they surfaced at all.
There are two important sources of mono with corresponding stereo tracks, both released in April 2004, and both with first-rate track-analysis from Rob Bradford:
“The Shadows’ Greatest Hits”, EMI 7243 578198 2 4
This is a freshly remastered issue of a prize Album in its mono and stereo implementations (though three tracks of the latter were in mock-stereo, faithfully replicated here), with the awesome QUATERMASSTER’S STORES as a bonus.
“More Hits!”, EMI 7243 578199 2 3
Again, a new remastering, offering mono and matching stereo tracks of the 1965 pair of LPs, with THE WAR LORD and A PLACE IN THE SUN as extras.
An earlier compilation, from May 2003, is notable not just for the misuse of “apostrophe s” but for the provision of five mono B-Singles not found among the above:
“A’s B’s & EP’s”, EMI Gold 7243 5 83110 2 0
Some singles-sides remain which are not yet available digitally in mono, or available only on overseas releases, most of questionable provenance and quality and best avoided if listening pleasure is a priority.
For the by no means negligible number of tracks originally peculiar to EP (most if not all very fine indeed), no comparable collection of mono with equivalent stereo versions exists. How best to acquire the majority of them in their (for the most part) take-it-or-leave-it stereo form? There are two main ways:
You will get to within a couple of years of the end of The Shadows’ UK EP output by investing in this anyway desirable (though not as desirable as it used to be with Singles tracks better accessed elsewhere) 6 CD Box Set:
“The Early Years 1959–1966” EMI CDS 7971712 (September 1991, reissued December 1998)
Tracks from 1966 and 1967, and some fine commentary on EP output from Rob Bradford, can be found on the three “EP Collection” CDs from the now defunct See For Miles label, though sound quality sometimes falls some way short of optimum:
“The EP Collection” See for Miles SEECD 246 (February 1990, reissued, as were the other two, in August 1997)
“The EP Collection Volume Two” See for Miles SEECD 296 (June 1990)
“The EP Collection Volume Three” See for Miles SEECD 375 (October 1993)
For much of the primary Album material, a series of Digipaks, splendidly remastered with the exception of the first (reproduction on “The Early Years” issue is superior), offered mono/stereo runs, as follows (some were reissued in ordinary jewel cases in September 2000, with different catalogue numbers, given below; the musical content is identical throughout):
“The Shadows” EMI 7243 4 98937 2 6 (January 1999; jewel case EMI 7243 5 28239 2 5)
“Out Of The Shadows” EMI 7243 4 99415 2 6 (February 1999; jewel case EMI 7243 5 28236 2 8)
“Dance With The Shadows” EMI 7243 4 99418 2 3 (February 1999; jewel case EMI 7243 5 28238 2 6)
“Shadow Music” EMI 7243 4 95151 2 3 (June 1998)
“Jigsaw” EMI 7243 4 99770 2 0 (March 1999)
“From Hank Bruce Brian And John” EMI 7243 4 99767 2 6 (March 1999)
Tantalisingly, one further Album, the first of the Shadows Digipaks, was offered in stereo only:
“The Sound Of The Shadows” EMI 7243 8 56566 2 0 (July 1997)
Then there are the purely stereo Digipak-style albums:
“Shades Of Rock” EMI 7243 5 20133 2 6 (April 1999; jewel case September 2000, EMI 7243 5 28240 2 1)
“Rockin’ With Curly Leads” EMI 7243 5 20221 2 0 (June 1999; jewel case September 2000, EMI 7243 5 28237 2 7)
“Specs Appeal” and “Tasty” was issued June 2004 on a 2CD (with bonus tracks) by Magic Records, ******** (proper front cover and catalogue number to follow shortly)
Finally, “String Of Hits” was put out twice: as EMI CDP 7 48278 2 (October 1987) and as EMI MfP 5724 (October 1991)
There is a different way of going about things if you are not bothered about mono Album tracks, and do not insist on having EMI UK product for albums. There is a fine-sounding and beautifully packaged run of Digipak-styled releases from Magic Records France. The artwork is generally very striking, with admirable pics of French record sleeves; and, if your French is up to it, there is some interesting commentary along the way from Bernard Broche. The following half dozen suggest themselves as immediate rivals for EMI UK albums listed above, since they provide stereo cuts together with a number of bonus tracks, taking in material from Singles, EPs and LPs:
“Out Of The Shadows” Magic Records 5244212 (December 1999)
Also released with different artwork and in high-definition 24-bit resolution as “Out Of The Shadows” EMI France 7243 5 31722 2 0 (March 2001)
This one is a bit different because it takes account of certain idiosyncrasies in the 1962 French “Out of The Shadows” issued in 10 inch format.
“Dance With The Shadows” Magic Records 4976992 (October 1998)
“The Sound Of The Shadows” Magic Records 4992692 (January 1999)
“Shadow Music” Magic Records 5201092 (March 1999)
“Jigsaw” Magic Records 3930088 (August 2001)
“From Hank Bruce Brian And John” Magic Records 3930089 (August 2001)
This one is notable for including the four “Japanese” tracks first released in Japan in 1967.
There are four more titles with studio material which goes over a lot of the ground covered in UK releases specified earlier, but which are nonetheless well worth having in any collection for the excellence of the presentation alone; a number of EP tracks are accumulated along the way. They are:
“Hurrah! For The Shadows” Magic Records 4976982 (October 1998)
“Dance With The Shadows/ Shadoogie” Magic Records 3930081 (May 2001)
“The Best Of The Shadows/ Apache” Magic Records 3930082 (May 2001)
“The Final 60’s” Magic Records 3930172 (April 2002)
If your taste extends to such curiosities as takes unceremoniously stripped of orchestral overdubs, or working versions of tunes, or remixes, then the collection to go for is:
“The Shadows At Abbey Road” EMI 7243 8 23042 2 7 (October 1997)
This has been re-released in Holland: the same material but with altered artwork and with tracks swapped around to avoid straight cloning: Disky, S1 901 602 (January 2004, dated 2003); the full annotation from Rob Bradford (pretty crucial for this kind of product, one would have thought), is not included.
Finally, some items which do not add anything materially to the above, but which are highly recommendable for one reason or another, and have proved to be “must-haves” for many, though the Japanese disc, long since deleted, is rarely seen. These are, in order of release:
“Listen To The Shadows” EMI CC240 ~ CDB 7 92036 2 (May 1989)/ (different artwork) Sovereign CD SOV 026 ~ 7243 8 59106 2 3 (August 1997)
This has a wealth of Album material from the 70s, in tremendously vivid sound.
“Live in Japan/ Pops In Japan” EMI TOCP 6603 (February 1991)
The “Live” bit is unspeakably poor (not through any fault of EMI’s), but “Pops” replicates the 1967 Japanese LP that provided the first airing of the four “Japanese” tracks referred to earlier. In fact, it is worth having one of the Japanese Shadows CD releases to see what a truly deluxe product looks like.
“Shadows Are Go!” Scamp SCP 9711 2 (September 1996)
This hails from the USA, a country not noted for its enthusiastic espousal of Shadowmusic. As it happens though, this in-house remastering of some of the classic tracks has produced a staggeringly dynamic sound, and into the bargain an expertly tweaked stereo Midnight, the only one worth listening to. This CD was recommended in the 1999 edition of the CD Guide, and many fans have contacted the present writer since to enthuse over it.
“Kon-Tiki: de beste 1960–1980” EMI Norway 7243 531809 2 8 (March 2001). A round-up of hits obtainable in profusion elsewhere. The attraction of this Norwegian CD is rather in the attractive presentation, and the booklet: there is (for a change) some unusual pictorial content, and also a very informed text which does not go over the same old ground (though it is in Norwegian).
MC, June 2004
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