The Early Years 1959-1966

by: The Shadows

To be fair, this six-CD set is really for completists only, since the price tag is likely to put off anyone else. But if you've been hooked on the beautiful guitar work of Hank Marvin and the surprisingly muscularity of the band, delving deeper is a very good idea. Not only do you get all the big hits -- like "Apache," "F.B.I.," and "The Rise and Fall of Flingel Bunt" (or even the wonderfully named "I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Arthur") -- you get literally everything. There's the obscure "Quartermaster's Stores," the traditional tune that would have been their first single if "Apache" hadn't proved to be so popular (it was relegated to the B-side), and some stuff that might have been better off left in the vaults, like "Lonely Bull" or "That's the Way It Goes," which were really little more than album-filler from back in the days when albums consisted of a few hits and anything else to fill up 40 minutes. What's most astonishing, however, is the fact that the Shadows produced consistently high-quality material, moving beyond the twang to dip their feet in the waters of Spain ("Tres Carabeles") and even some early music ("Lute Number"). Quite how they found the time for it all while keeping up a busy schedule behind Cliff Richard is another matter. Marvin's guitar work is a joy throughout, and the British king of the whammy bar uses it wisely and well. He might not have been the fastest or most fluent player around, but he knew how to work and develop a melody and what not to play -- no wonder he was a major influence on an entire generation of guitar heroes, who learned to play by copying his records. Add on top a great sense of pun ("Theme From a Filleted Place" anyone?) and you have an enjoyable collection. Yes, it can get a bit samey if you play all six discs one after the other. But, like all things, this is to be enjoyed in moderation, to realize that during these seven years, even as rock changed around them, the Shadows remained at the height of their formidable powers. ~ Chris Nickson

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