Out Of The Shadows by The Shadows


I went to the GP surgery this morning to give a blood sample in the forlorn hope that someone with some medical knowledge can ascertain why it is that I sometimes get pain in my gullet and windpipe. I wore a mask and so did the vampire nurse who muttered at me as soon as I sat down. When I said “pardon”, she raised her voice and said very slowly “When Were You Born?”. This was the first time that I’ve been properly treated like a senile old man whose mind is going. I mean, I know my mind is going but she didn’t. Although she did later ask me whether it had stopped raining and I replied “No” and then added “I think it’s going to start raining soon.” I guess that if you get treated as an idiot, you start acting like one.

68. I’m 68 years old. Some of my closest friends are in their 70s. It takes some getting used to. Obviously, when I gave my year of birth as 1954, it seemed like a long time ago to Katherine Pierce, or whatever the nurse’s name was. Mind you, I nearly died sixty years ago yesterday along with the rest of humanity. At the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet patrol submarine B-59 almost launched a nuclear-armed torpedo while under harassment by American naval forces. The B-59 was one of several vessels surrounded by American destroyers near Cuba, and so it dived to avoid detection and was unable to communicate with Moscow for a number of days. The USS Beale began dropping practice depth charges to signal B-59 to surface; however, the captain of the Soviet submarine took these to be real depth charges. With low batteries affecting the submarine’s life support systems and unable to make contact with Moscow, the commander of B-59 feared that war had already begun and ordered the use of a 10-kiloton nuclear torpedo against the American fleet. The rest of the commanding officers agreed with one exception: the chief of staff of the flotilla, Vasily Arkhipov, refused permission to launch. He convinced the captain to calm down, surface, and make contact with Moscow for new orders. Nuclear war was averted by the strength of mind of one Russian officer.

And so the last Number One album in the history of the planet could have been “Out Of The Shadows” by Cliff Richard’s backing group. Or maybe, in thousands of years, further life forms might have emerged from the shadows of a devasted planet and someone (or something) would have had to re-invent the soundtrack to “West Side Story”.

“Out Of The Shadows” was The Shadows’ second album and it was released in October 1962. By 21st October it had reached Number One in the U.K. Charts, where it remained for three weeks, before being usurped by “West Side Story”. It reclaimed the top spot twice before the end of the year. There were no singles released from the album.

The Shadows consisted of Hank B. Marvin (lead guitar), Bruce Welch (rhythm guitar) and Brian Bennett (drums). At the start of the recording sessions for the album, Jet Harris was the bass player but by the time the final tracks had been recorded, Brian Locking had replaced him.

Jet Harris was forced out of the band because of his drinking habit. It is alleged that his average drinking day would include two bottles of vodka and ten pints, and he drank this every day for more than 30 years before finally giving up the bottle in 1996, spending the last 15 years of his life completely sober. He formed a successful duo with former shadow Tony Meehan, who had left the band in October 1961 to work as a producer for Decca Records. Tony Meehan was involved in producing The Beatles’ audition on New Year’s Day 1962 (when he was 18 years old) which resulted in Dick Rowe (Head of A&R at Decca) being tagged as “the man who turned down The Beatles”, whereas it may well have been Tony Meehan. In which case George Martin might never have met The Beatles and the world as we know it would have been completely and utterly different. Thank you, Tony Meehan, for your poor judgement.

“Out Of The Shadows” is a very entertaining album. “Little B” includes a three minute drum solo. “The Bandit” has lead vocals by Hank B. Marvin about being a bandit in Brazil along with an atypical Spanish guitar accompaniment. “1861”, written by Brian Bennett, Bruce Welch and Hank B. Marvin is a standard Shadows song, bearing a resemblance to “Foot Tapper”, which would be a Number One hit the following year. “Bo Diddley” was written by Bo Diddley and includes lead vocals by Bruce Welch along with some impressive harmonica playing by Brian Locking. “Spring Is Nearly Here” is syrupy with a sweet string arrangement by the album producer, Norrie Paramor. “Some Are Lonely” was written by Cliff Richard.

It’s easy to criticise The Shadows because of their association with Cliff Richard who, for a time was decidedly uncool although his early singles are, to my mind, terrific. There’s no escaping the unrelenting sophisticated musicianship of the band, especially Hank B. Marvin.

Bruce Welch and Brian Bennett received OBEs in 2004. Jet Harris received an MBE in 2010. Hank B. Marvin declined any similar award, “for personal reasons”. When Neil Young released “From Hank To Hendrix” on “Harvest Moon” in 1992, he corrected interviewers who asked him about Hank Williams, telling them that he was referring to Hank B. Marvin, who was a huge influence on his early group, The Squires.

Luckily, the human race didn’t expire in 1962 because we would have missed an astonishing transformation in the album charts. Here are the Number One albums of 1963…

1st January – 5th January “On Stage With The George Mitchell Minstrels”

6th January – 12th January: “West Side Story”

13th January – 26th January: “Out Of The Shadows” by The Shadows

27th January – 4th May: “Summer Holiday” by Cliff Richard And The Shadows

5th May – 30th November: “Please Please Me” by The Beatles

1st December – 31st December: “With The Beatles” by The Beatles

Published by wilfulsprinter

Music lover

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