With Strings Attached

by: The Shadows

It's difficult to know what to make of this one. It's certainly generous -- 26 tracks spread over a single CD. It's also adventurous, chasing the Shadows throughout their EMI career and serving up some genuinely overlooked jewels. Their version of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is as gently evocative as it ought to be; "Slaughter on 10th Avenue" is majestic; even "The Girl from Ipanema," a song that has really been heard way too often, was given a fresh lease on life by the Shadows' twang. But, and it's a big but, if you want to hear the band's greatest hits, do you want to hear them in their unadorned form? Or lavishly layered with posthumously recorded strings, orchestrated above and beyond their original purity, to swell and burst over the confines of the original scratchy vinyl -- to sound, in other words, nothing like the treasures that Hank and company originally laid down? It's not a bad album; sometimes the strings add little more than a sensitive background wash to the proceedings, and straightforward CD remasterings have unearthed more intrusive additions than these. They're sensitive and somehow moving. Other times, however, the Shadows themselves are lost beneath the cellos and violins, and you end up wondering who this album really belongs to. The greatest guitar band in history? Or whoever had the idea of slapping strings all over them? Approach with caution. ~ Dave Thompson

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