Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#728 in the Series) is The Shadows of Knight, Gloria
There’s this great moment during the final encore of Rickie Lee Jones’ “Live at Red Rocks”: she and band are midway through an improvised-sounding reading of Van Morrison’s composition “Gloria” that, to these ears anyway bears as much homage to the Shadows of Knight as Morrison’s Them…and while the band vamps those three indelible chords, she tells the audience, “I was 12 when this song came out and I have never forgotten. I will never forget! That’s why I will never get old!” And I’m like: how true that is!
The Shadow’s “Gloria” debuted on the WLS Silver Dollar Survey in mid-February, 1966 at #19 joining such perennial classics as Bobby Fuller’s “I Fought the Law,” the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann,” Nancy Sinatra’s “Boots,” the Knickerbockers’ Beatle-esque “Lies” and, another of Chicago’s very own, New Colony Six’s “I Confess.” The Stones’ “19th Nervous Breakdown” had to settle for coming in at #23 that week! The late, great Norman Mark, then of the Chicago Daily News, proclaimed: “People went nuts when they heard it (“Gloria”). Local radio stations got more calls asking for that record than any other record in Chicago history.” Mark waxed perhaps a tad hyperbolic but there was excitement, an anthem was born.
My best recollection is that I got the lp as a birthday present that fall and all 30 minutes of it rocked then and they rock now!
With Jim Sohn’s sneering vocals, Warren Rodgers’ popping bass lines, Jerry McGeorge’s driving rhythm guitar, Tom Schiffour’s snare-snapping drum fills, and Joe Kelley’s fluid guitar leads, the Shadows of Knight were like the ultimate garage band. For sheer punk attitude they were ahead of the New Wave by a good dozen years. Their incendiary, blistering covers of blues classics such as “I Got My Mojo Working,” “Boom Boom,” “Oh Yeah,” and “I Just Want to Make Love to You” were gateways to their sources: M. Morganfield (aka Muddy Waters), John Lee Hooker, E. Mc Daniel (aka Bo Diddley), and Willie Dixon.
Their Chuck Berry “Let It Rock” is as much manifestation of a runaway train as it is a song about a runaway train!
And the three original tunes of the set “Light Bulb Blues, “Dark Side,” and “It Always Happens That Way” hold their own amid such stellar company. “Dark Side: has long been my fave of the three. Another three-chord classic, the bluesy ballad of the bunch: “I thought that you loved me/now I see I was wrong/Cuz you broken my heart now/didn’t take you too long/our love’s on the dark side/now I know you lied/gave you all my sweet lovin’/but you weren’t satisfied.”
Norman Mark got it right on the liner notes when he foretold, “You have in your hands an authentic collector’s item—the first album of the Shadows of Knight. One day you may want to bronze it, put it in a time capsule or give it to your heirs.” Truth be told I gave away thousands of vinyl record albums ten years ago when the time came to downsize but not this one—“Gloria” is a keeper and still rockin’ after all these years!
- Gloria (Van Morrison / Leon René) 2:34
- Light Bulb Blues (Jerry McGeorge / Jim Sohns) 2:32
- I Got My Mojo Working (McKinley Morganfield) 3:28
- Darkside (Warren Rogers / Jim Sohns) 2:00
- Boom Boom (John Lee Hooker) 2:28
- Let It Rock (Chuck Berry) 1:52
- Oh Yeah (Ellas McDaniel) 2:45
- It Always Happens That Way (Warren Rogers / Jim Sohns) 1:52
- You Can’t Judge a Book by Looking at the Cover (Willie Dixon) 2:37
- (I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man (Willie Dixon) 3:52
- I Just Want to Make Love to You (Willie Dixon) 3:49
- Joe Kelley – Guitar
- Jerry McGeorge – Guitar
- Warren Rogers – Bass, Guitar
- Tom Schiffour – Drums
- Jim Sohns – Vocals
Here are more cool albums from the 60s