Monday, June 4, 2018

Review: 'The Shadows of Knight Alive in ’65!'

Illinois’ Shadows of Knight are notable as the band that turned Van Morrison’s garage anthem “Gloria” into a hit, but they also worked their grungy magic on such less well-known items as Bo Diddley’s “Oh Yeah” (which earned a coveted spot on Lenny Kaye’s original Nuggets comp), The Wheels’ “Bad Little Woman”, and “I’ll Make You Mine”, a nasty item co-written by Carole Bayer Sager that the Knights apparently got their mitts on before anyone else. While these numbers weren’t the hits that “Gloria” was, they remain the most enduring Shadows of Knight remnants because they don’t invite much comparison with more famous renditions (though they are all viciously executed enough that they might not pale in comparison under any circumstances).

The set that Shadows of Knight played at Chicago’s the Cellar in the summer of ’65 featured no such obscurities. Instead they ravaged their way through The Kinks’ two biggest hits to date, perennials such as “Rawhide”, “Memphis”, and “Louie Louie”, and a load of R&R and blues standards best known by the Stones (as well as Jagger and Richards’s own “Heart of Stone”). The Shadows’ covers were spirited, fierce, and never superior to the more famous versions. Consequently, The Shadows of Knight Alive in ’65! is a fine but fairly inessential document of a bar band at work in the mid-sixties.

Most impressive is the quality of the recording considering that it was caught on a reel-to-reel that rhythm guitarist Norm Gotsch perched on the side of the stage. As mastered by Bob Irwin for Beat Rocket/Sundazed Music, Alive in ’65 sounds especially powerful. The sleeve notes are quality too with extensive recollections from Gotsch.
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