Monday, 3 March 2014

7 Inch Singles Collection: The Shadows - Guitar Tango

Shall we tango?:


A-side: Guitar Tango
B-Side: What A Lovely Tune
(Columbia 1962)

It comes as no surprise to me that The Shadows are the first band to have a second entry into the blog. It should came as no surprise to you either, if you've been paying attention. You may recall that when I reviewed Wonderful Land, that I mentioned that The Shadows spent some time showing that they weren't just a twangy Surf/Western style group, and were capable of much else, this record is probably the epitome of that attempt to showcase their different styles.

Guitar Tango is, let's be honest about this, not really a tango. I'm sure someone could attempt a Tango to it on Strictly Come Dancing/Dancing With The Stars, but musically - it's not really. The name is there much more as a handy hook to let the record buying public know that this record has a Spanish feel - it's all on acoustic guitars, with almost mariachi bits of brass and string punctuating the melody which Hank plucks out flamenco style. It's soft and gentle, with occasional sweeping figures - something pleasing and different from the norm.

If we're looking at different from the norm then What A Lovely Tune probably takes the biscuit. It's a deliberate attempt at comedy - many Shadows fans look at it as a bit of a throw-away number tucked in on a b-side, but I must admit to having something of a fondness for it. It starts with a gentle and quiet somewhat muted melody, the reason for the mutedness becomes clear as a narration starts over the top of the melody. I believe it's Brain, the drummer, doing the voice-over (please correct me if you know it's not). It's a first person narration, done in proper R.P. Our hero is apparently at some kind of formal dance, situation, awaiting his date for the night. When she turns up there's a pleasant greeting, and sitting down noises. (we only ever get to here Brian's voice on this so we have to guess what the young lady is saying or doing). He pours tea and asks if she has sugar, there is the sound tea being poured and sugar being added, then Brian apologises - he's obviously added the sugar without waiting for her reply. There's the nervous awkward silences and pauses, they go and dance (badly) for a bit, and then in desperation he takes her out on the balcony for a bit of "fresh air". He obviously thinks he's in with a chance, because he must either try to steal a kiss or hold her hand or something, but she's not having any of it, and in the end he decides that they might as well go and dance again. It finishes with him commenting on the music which has been playing the background all the time. "I say what a lovely tune. I wonder who wrote it?" (actually, you did, Brian - I looked at the credits on the label!) It's daft and endearing and does capture some of those first date discomforts charmingly. So whilst I wouldn't listen to it often, when I do it always brings a smile to my face. (I don't normally add a YouTube link for B-side but I couldn't resist for this one)

Not the best Shadows record ever, but certainly one of the most interesting ones. 

Next time epic pop of the best kind from the tail-end of the 1970's

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