REVIEW: "A's B's & EP's"

From: Shadsfax Issue 43 (2003) 5–6

The Shadows
"A’s B’s & EP’s"
EMI Gold 7243 5 83110 2 0
Released May 2003

The Frightened City / Kon-Tiki / Peace Pipe / The Savage / Wonderful Land / Midnight / Dance On! / All Day /Guitar Tango / Shadoogie / Nivram / Baby My Heart / See You In My Drums / Foot Tapper [single version] / Shindig / It’s Been A Blue Day / Sleepwalk / Theme From A Filleted Place / 1861 / Perfidia / Geronimo / Shazam! / Theme For Young Lovers / This Hammer

This is one of a series that takes in Adam Faith, The Animals, Manfred Mann and Helen Shapiro. Reproduction is in mono for all of these, the normal mode for singles and the majority of EPs over the greater part of the golden decade. For keen Shadows collectors, this is a significant release, because it offers mono implementations, for the first time ever on CD, of All Day, Peace Pipe and This Hammer among the singles, and also of the February 1963 mono EP version of Perfidia without the overdubbed second guitar; the overdubbed one had surfaced on mono pressings of the “Out Of The Shadows” LP in October 1962, and that is available on five different CD sources at the time of writing.

In addition, some mono cuts occur here for the first time on UK CD, from EMI itself : this matters, because overseas mono versions are usually pretty murky-sounding, sometimes distortion-ridden, and always unsatisfactory for one reason or another. The titles in question are: Dance On!, The Frightened City, Geronimo (an AV this), Guitar Tango, It’s Been A Blue Day, Kon-Tiki, The Savage, Shazam!, Shindig, Theme For Young Lovers. (Wonderful Land appeared more than once overseas, but also on the 1988 UK “Pop Legends” CD set from Reader’s Digest: now we have the in-house one.)

Which brings us to the sound quality of these mono offerings. In a word: excellent. They are very bright and forward-sounding mind you. They will not sound much like a mint 45 from the 60s with its analogue warmth, and they will sound nothing at all like a hammered 45 from the 60s with its high frequencies impaired beyond recall. The single track I would have most liked to see in mono, FBI, is absent: it would have provided a far preferable alternative to the mock-stereo version which is now standard fare (though a forceful-sounding mono example can be found on the 1995 Swedish CD, “20 Rock ’n’ Roll Hits”). But when all is said and done, what we really need is a complete run of Shads singles in both mono and stereo where appropriate.

One feature which disappointed me was the restricting of “EP tracks” almost entirely to material which had appeared on LP. We already have mono versions from the latter category thanks to the run of Digipak issues, but not of certain other numbers peculiar to EP. In any case, some cracking tunes are missed with this approach.

To conclude with presentation: the artwork is fine, the two pages of annotation by Martin Hutchinson adequate (Cliff Richards’, with s-apostrophe, is one blemish, and there are some others); the weak puns are definitely no asset. The top of the front cover shows a central cut-out such as you find on some record sleeves of the 60s, while the disc itself is liberally patterned with vinyl grooves (it’s amazing how many CDs are these days), densely concentrated, as they had to be of course on your actual EPs.


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