Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Shamrocks (UK) - Liverpool Beat (Ariola) 1965


The first reference of the SHAMROCKS dates as far back as 1964, to be precise: 19-7-64. I, at least, could find no earlier one. The reference
in question was a small ad in THE NEW  
One of the Top Three Rhrthm ind
MUSICAL EXPRESS and it hailed them as as one of the top three R&B groups of Southern England, which might be true regarding where you draw the line.
However this may be, one thing is ok.
They did play R&B, and with some proficiency. But they never made any impact on a larger scale, so they travelled round and round and round the South, without achieving anything but local success. Basically they were based in Southend, but this varied according to which member was asked. Anyway, they grew their hair and soon they looked as filthy as the PRETTY THINGS (well, almost). But even this did not help them se-cureing those invaluable London-gigs, at least I never found one of their concerts advertised in the NME or MELODY MAKER...and I have been browsing through two years of the relevant issues. No trace. But some kind of slavedriver at least must have seen some money in them, and so they were sent round the provinces...that is Germany in this case. So some time in 1965 they landed here with в vanloed full of equipment which also included a Gretsch guitar. They mainly toured the South, US-airbases and things, and somehow they couldn*t scrape enough money to¬gether to return. So each time departure was planned they had to pro¬long their stay. And, was worthwhile.

Mssr, GARY IAN COW TAN (voc, born 29-8-46 in Southend), DAVID EAGLEN (Id, born 31-1-46 in Maidenhead), BERNARD ROBERTS (rh, born 30-6-44 in Bury), BSRNIE MIDF0RT-M1LLERSHIP (b, born 19-1-45 in Oxford) and PETER CHANNINE (dr, born 16-7-42 in Birmingham) were signed to record for ARIOLA, Ariola had quite а гidiculous number of "talent' under their wings, and they used to overflow the shops with records by bands nobody
bad ever heard of before and none would ever buy. But in the case of THE SHAMROCKS they at least produced some exciting music, although they never could create a SHAMROCKS-craze. The whole things was all so more difficult as the German market was full of SHAMROCKS records! POLYDOR bad a waggon full of SHAMROCKS records in the shops, but these SHAMROCKS bad nothing in common with the other SHAMROCKS, that is the other two bands of the same name. Those SHAMROCKS were from Sweden, and as they had started to grow their bair as well, they often were confused with the SHAMROCKS from LIVERPOOL (!!), as our clientele were stigmatized in the German music press. Then there was a German band from Herne, which also competed under the name THE SHAMROCKS, but they stayed al¬most completely unknown, although they also had a record out as some of their earlier followers once told me. They had derived their name from their jobs...well, two of them were miners, the mine where they
were employed was registrated under the name ZECIIE SHAMROCK I These
boys also had a nice flock of shoulderlong curls, and so the confusion was complete. But our gang had one. thing in advance: they were five, whereas the rest only counted four! And in regards to the music it was quite easy to keep them apart. They were the best. Yes, it is that simplet

THE SHAMROCKS (now it is the the Eng¬lish gang always, and not the one on the right, which is Swedish) first came up with a brilliant single! "Shame shame shame* (what else?)
was something I loved from the very first time I heard It (and I bought it immediately I). It sounded really mean. The vocalist had a hoarse voice, and the band was stomping like mad. It was one of those simple tunes which really generated steam and a special atmosperei back room boyst The flip was even better: 'Down home special'...equally rough, equally mean, equally monotonous, and equal¬ly exciting. This gang sure knev how to play the Rhythm and Blues, and the pace was alright as well. But he who thought that they would crop up with another single soon, was wrong!
Their next, and for some time last move was an Elpee. Yeah, a real
long player although 'Shame shame shame" could hardly have sold a
thousand. But there it was simply called THE SHAMROCKS!

And 1*11 tell you something. It was a killer 11
In many aspects it was similar to the first DOWNLINERS SECT LP. They stuck to simple means , played the R&B at the highest speed possible. With the exception of "What's all this" (written by GARY COWTAN) it aws all cover versions of JIMMY REED, BO DIDDLEY or JOHN LEE HOOKER stuff, but these were given the right treatment. They had a nice balance between lead and rhythm guitar and the bass and drums fitted in quite nicely. An assett is the excellent recording quality, with a true stereo production of best German mid-sixties quality. The album is a nice mixture of fast stompers, up-tempo beaters , and blue¬sy songs. Especially the slow numbers proved their ability. They were able to extent them as far as 5 minutes without boring the listener, They enriched them with a moody, jazzy guitar which really showed that they had taste, I always found their lead guitarist especially accord¬ing to ay likings he bad such a polished, unpretentious sound without losing drive and energy. Really good, man! Even when they chased through their maniac tracks like 'ROADRUNNER", "GOT MY MOJO WORKING' or "NURSERY RHYME' he would not sourfd.obtrusive or lose his smoothness. He really seemed to have much feeling for slick Rhythm & Blues, But I don't want to place him above his fellow musicians. They made a nice team, a'nd their brand of R&B was distinguished and shiny. When they employed maraccas or a tambourine it wasn't just the usual rattling along but supported the jazz alright.
I really don't know why they didn't make any impression in England, perhaps they were not obtrusive and gaudy enough, perhaps their sound wasn't dramatic enough, perhaps it was because they just played the same old songs again. But the DOWNLINERS did the seme, and they left memories behind. THE SHAMROCKS harmonica playing wasn't worse than the DOWNLINERS' ...their guitarist wasn't worse either, and altogether they sounded the better team. What the DOWNLINERS had more of power, THE SHAMROCKS had more of swing! I can easily understand nevertheless why they did not make it in Germany, which never had been an R&B country, it always had tended towards Harmony Beat and Mod Power Pop. But at least it was over Лете that they vere able to engrave their infceritage/ A perfect LP!
In November 1966 they sacked BERNARD MIDFORT-MILLERSHIP andGARY COW-TAN switched over to bass guitar. They recruited an additional member with DAVID ALLEN on piano and organ. And they switched to HANSA records for one last, and memorable record "Crossbow", which almost sounded progressive at the time of release. Then they vanished, and they vanished completely, without a trace!

1 - Shame Shame Shame
2 - Down Home Special
3 - What's All This
4 - Dusty Road
5 - Rocks In My Bed
6 - Sticks And Stones
7 - Roadrunner
8 - Howling For My Baby
9 - Big Boss Man
10 - Nursery Rhyme
11 - I'm Mad
12 - Walking The Boogie
13 - Smoke Stack Lightning
14 - Got My Mojo Working

15 - Crossbow
16 - Midnight Train

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