Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

100 Records That Shook The World, #80


The Shadows

"Before Cliff and The Shadows, there had been nothing worth listening to in British music." - John Lennon

Ah, now here is where it gets really interesting. So far in this list we've seen not only how one style of music can influence another, but also how it can be tweaked and messed with to become yet another, and another, and then finally meet up with another variant of the original to become yet another distinctly different style. I think it is fair to say that if it weren't for the Shadows, and specifically Hank Marvin's guitar style, then we would not have had Dick Dale, The Ventures, Jan & Dean or indeed The Beach Boys. And if we hadn't had The Beach Boys, who knows what else we would have missed out on? And if it hadn't been for this Jerry Lordan-penned tune, that had been recorded previously by Bert "Play-In-A-Day" Weedon but had then lain dormant in a vault, then the face of music today would be vastly different.

The Shadows were formed from The Drifters, a permanent backing band for the young Cliff Richard. The Drifters had been formed from the ashes of three skiffle groups. After Cliff and The Drifters' first single, "Move It", they were booked for Jack Good's seminal "Oh Boy!" TV show and their producer Norrie Paramor asked Johnny Foster to recruit a better guitarist, who went to the fabled 2i's coffee bar in Soho, with the intent of finding Tony Sheridan. He wasn't there, but who was there with his red Fender Strat and Buddy Holly glasses? Hank Marvin. After some success with Cliff the record company also marketed The Shadows as a separate act,  although the band's internal struggles were hampering their first album's progress as first Jet Harris and then Tony Meehan left, eventually recording as a duo for Decca.

In 1960 at Abbey Road studios, singer-guitarist and chirpy cheeky Cockney chappie Joe Brown gave Hank Marvin an Italian-built echo chamber (a Meazzi Echomatic, for the musos out there) that he had bought and didn't like. With this one small gesture Joe unwittingly turned The Shadows into an almost legendary force overnight. Hank used the Meazzi to great effect and when Apache was released in  the same year, it stayed in the #1 spot for five straight weeks. Weedon's version was released and got to #24. The song was covered by The Ventures also.
In 1973 a strange version by The Incredible Bongo Band came out and, while not a resounding success, became a foundation for hip-hop as we know it today. The Sugarhill Gang sampled heavily from the Bongo Band version in their own 1981 version, particularly the bongo intro which will be familiar to anyone who listened to music in the '80s and '90s. It is probably the most heavily sampled snatch of music besides the beat of James Brown's 'Funky Drummer'. In 1995 it gained more attention due to an episode of The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air called "Viva Lost Wages" in which Will and Carlton (Alfonso Ribeiro) dance to the song in order to pay for their trip back home after losing all their money in a casino. 

For more information about this song see All Roads Lead To Apache.

Now, you see how one little tune can change everything? 

First, here's Hank and the boys:

Now here's the Incredible Bongo Band:

And finally, that scene from Fresh Prince, Will and Carlton dancing to Apache (Jump On It) by The Sugarhill Gang.

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