One of the most widely covered songs in rock ‘n’ roll history is Them’s “Gloria,” but the band that reaped the most recognition with the ruddy and rugged tune is the Shadows of Knight, whose version reached No. 10 on the national charts in the spring of 1966. That summer, the Chicago, Illinois group struck again, by way a revival of Bo Diddley’s “Oh Yeah!” that peaked at the No. 39 spot throughout the country.
In a fair world, the Shadows of Knight should have continued spinning gold because they were an incredible band. Flaunting a sound and image oozing with mischief and menace, the group not only mastered British blues beat rock with flying colors, but they added their own personal touch to the template. Screaming forth with brash ravers, the band’s first two albums, Gloria and Back Door Men are classics of their greasy and gutsy stripe, right up there with like-minded offerings from the Rolling Stones, the Animals, and the Pretty Things.
But by the time 1968 came to be, the Shadows of Knight were reeling from a bit of turmoil. Personnel changes occurred, and those holding the green were set on marketing the group as a bubblegum act in the vein of the Ohio Express and the 1910 Fruitgum Company. Nevertheless, the Shadows of Knight carried on and although the majority of their fans aren’t too bowled over with the stuff they released following Gloria and Back Door Men, such efforts do have plenty of merit and are as nearly as good as anything they created during their heyday.
Clocking in at No. 46 late in 1968, “Shake” (Team Records) was clearly conceived in the mold of then-popular dance ditties a la the Human Beinz’s “Nobody But Me” and “Mony Mony” by Tommy James and the Shondells. Rumbling keyboards play ping-pong with blistering guitars, and the groove is sturdy and solid. Sneering vocals, shouting choruses, and a hook as sharp as a papercut steer “Shake” to be the winner that it is. By merging primal garage rock roots with splashes of vanilla soul and power pop, the Shadows Of Knight produced a song that definitely deserved to catch a lot more fire than it did. Aptly named, “Shake” certainly does shake!
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