Monday, 13 April 2015

7 Inch Singles Collection: The Shadows - Love Deluxe

Stepping back into the shadows...


A-Side: Love Deluxe

B-Side: Sweet Saturday Night

(EMI 1978)

Here we find the Shadows in 1978 in something of a limbo position, three years earlier they'd been on the relative high of representing the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest. (You can read that sentence with as much or as little irony as you like), they'd also recently had a number one album in the shape of "20 Golden Greats" - a best of package. So you'd maybe expect them to have some kind of public profile - but no their last few singles had failed to get anywhere near the charts. It looked like all that was left was the greatest hits circuits - this was to change, but not with this record, but the one after (which is another story for another time). This record is quite possibly The Shadows single that has been least heard, and least heard of. Neither tracks were from albums and neither make it to compilations very often.

It's easy to see why Love Deluxe is not a great song. It's a vocal track - The Shadows have always been a fine adequate vocal group - but it's not the vocals that are the problem. Bruce sings well, although he doesn't seem to be doing much guitar playing, and neither does Hank. That's part of the problem - if you're listening to The Shadows you kind of expect thto hear Hank Marvin's distinctive guitar playing - there are guitars present here, but there way down in the mix, and it could be anyone playing them. As a song it's a keyboard heavy piece of uptempo pop, bouncy enough but not particularly memorable. Just to add insult to injury there are some light disco woven throughout the record, particularly nasty are the synth drums that pop in and out of the song. I'm not dissing disco, but it needs to be performed by seasoned disco professionals not shoehorned into a light piece of AOR. Love Deluxe is not the worst vocal track that The Shadows have recorded, (for my money that honour goes to The Bandit off their second album), it is however probably their worst single*.

It's a relief to flip this record over and discover Sweet Saturday Night nestling there. It's not that it's brilliant, but it's more of what I expect. There's no singing, and the guitar noises coming out are unmistakably Hank B. Marvin. Sweet Saturday Night has a soft funky groove, there's still a hint of trying to surf the disco zeitgeist, but it's a bit more restrained. Little synth twinkles actually accent, rather than distract from the tune. It's rather mellow with a yearning quality to it. Where most pop/rock songs break out into a guitar solo about 2/3 of the way through this has a little percussion solo - long enough to engage and short enough not to bore before Hank effortless glides back in with a couple of smooth riffs and then settles back into the main groove before the song fades away. It's not great but it is pleasant enough to make up for the a-side.

There you go then, a horrible record from my favourite band - these things happen, but it should be all uphill with every other Shadows record from now on**.

*There's one other that we'll come across that is a strong contender for this title.
**See above footnote.

Next time some early 90's indie psychedelia...

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