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SITTIN’ IN WITH 583; NOVEMBER 1950

 
 

 

With the lead vocal chores handed back over to Scott King after Sam McClure stepped into that role on the woefully out of date flip side, this would seem to be a more accurate reflection of just where The Shadows were headed after a fairly decent first year as recording artists.

Maybe it is… and maybe that’s the problem, for while the style here is much different than the early 1940’s throwback we just looked at, it’s hardly very cutting edge which doesn’t bode well for their future prospects.

With an onslaught of progressive rock vocal groups on the immediate horizon it’s fitting that we get a chance to see just how “out with the old, in with the new” plays out in real time.
 

 

Please Promise Me Dear, You Will Be Near
A month before this record was released, Scott King was drafted into the Armed Service… something that was an unfortunate fact of life during the Korean War as we’ve already seen with Goree Carter this past spring.

Their conscription hardly mattered in the United States’ strategic initiatives, as even with them in uniform the country wasted three years and countless lives in a failed police action to stop the spread of Communism and today North Korea is an even bigger international threat and all around pain in the ass than they were in the early Nineteen Fifties.

However for guys like Carter and King the effect on their careers… indeed the effect on their entire lives… was incalculable. Unlike most professions where timing is not of the essence, in music your window of opportunity to make good on your promise is extraordinarily small and to have them forcibly removed from the scene in their early 20’s essentially means you’ve eliminated their chance to ever be an important artist in a field as tumultuous as rock ‘n’ roll.

Then again, as I’ll Never, Never Let You Go shows, even had Scott King gone AWOL, changed his name and kept on singing, his group’s questionable artistic choices had the potential to derail his career momentum all on their own.
 

I Wandered Around
This is yet another record that is very well done in its own way, yet that way is far too alien for rock ‘n’ roll to be acceptable in this field.

There are surely those who balk at such distinctions, feeling that a good sounding record should be praised for sounding good, regardless of what style its best suited for. But that’s the antitheses of assessing the history of one specific musical genre and trying to determine which records advanced that music’s cause and which held it back.

I’ll Never, Never Let You Go threatened to hold it back, for had this record succeeded and captured the attention of a wide swath of listeners, the immediate impact of that would be to send other record labels in search of more of the same. In that scenario The Dominoes when they arrived on the scene in the coming weeks might’ve reverted back to more mannered deliveries rather than leaning into gospel-passion and racy themes. Meanwhile The Clovers who’d soon follow them into this world may have never been compelled to explore the rawer slinky humor that defined them over the next few years if smooth emotionless singing like this hadn’t fallen out of favor.

It’s a ripple effect. Though The Shadows may indeed sound pretty good here, they needed to fail in this kind of mild setting so that others could succeed in a style that was new and exciting.

But even so there are some things to admire here that if placed in a more appropriate setting would’ve worked quite well as a slightly different flavor of rock ‘n’ roll rather than what is now essentially a pop act incorporating some rock touches into their material.

The record starts off nicely with a delicate guitar and you can definitely pick up on how some later doo wop groups used that template and improved upon it to set a dreamy mood for ballads down the road. When King comes in, his high tenor sounding as fragile as ever, it carries on this vibe and gets you thinking that they might actually pull this tightrope walk off after all.

But it wasn’t to be as they fail to add to it by keeping the instrumentation to a minimum, the guitar playing just distant fills while a faint piano chips in occasionally. Without a fuller arrangement you’re left with no firm footing to keep you grounded, there’s nothing to distract you or pick up the slack during the pauses between vocal lines and while King mostly delivers the backing is so sparse that too much responsibility falls to the other Shadows to support King and their decisions further drag this away from rock’s comfort zone.
 

The Things That You Do
It’s only natural having such a distinctive lead singer that The Shadows would want to spotlight him as much as possible, but with other members to earn a paycheck and do more than stand around on stage with their hands in the pockets like they’re waiting for the subway you need to give them something to do.

Quietly humming I suppose qualifies as “something”, but barely.

When they DO get a line to deliver in response to King it’s a massive let-down. Their first appearance answering an early line is bland and colorless, while their joint vocals with King later on the bridge is done as a traditional pop harmony approach. This seems to give King permission to head off in that direction himself, using that clearly enunciated open-throated delivery that acts as an alarm to any rock fan seeking emotional conviction.

Of course none of this is helped much by the weak story and almost passive lyrics of I’ll Never, Never Let You Go, as it details a tepid romance where by the sounds of it hand holding and eye gazing are the primary means of fulfillment between this couple.

King tries at times to show a little more passion but it’s far too fleeting as he’s constantly thwarted by the mild trappings of the song itself. If you listen carefully you can pick up on some melodic similarities between this and (Now And Then There’s) A Fool Such As I, a song that’s hardly very aggressive itself but compared to this sounds downright apocalyptic.

By the fade you haven’t quite fallen asleep, but you’re definitely drowsy enough to need to open a window to get your second wind and as we know that’s never a good sign for act hoping to pass muster as a rock group.
 

That Was My Chance
It’s inevitable that artists whose earlier inclusion in rock circles was tentative at best will start to fall by the wayside when the musical styles shift again making these borderline candidates seem decidedly unwelcome.

We might not exclude them entirely from this point forward, but we’ll have no choice but to be a lot more picky about what gets considered from now on. You get no lifetime pass in this game.

As for I’ll Never, Never Let You Go, you’re obviously free to enjoy it for what it does do fairly well, but just keep in mind that the more strongly you respond to this type of muted effort the less likely you’d have been the one to push rock as a whole into the frenzied frontiers it was about to explore.

But every transition in music needs these rifts to occur that result in collateral damage which sheds the dead wood from the growing forest and it was inevitable The Shadows were going to fall into the category sooner rather than later.
 
 
SPONTANEOUS LUNACY VERDICT:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
(Visit the Artist page of The Shadows for the complete archive of their records reviewed to date)