13 June 2005

¡Viva los Shads!

Elvis Schmelvis, Beatles Schmeatles. Viva los Shads!
- Nik Cohn on British instrumental band the Shadows, in his 1969 book Awopbopaloobopalopbamboom.

Thirty-five years or so later, it seems kind of early to have been publishing a history of pop in 1969, but Nik Cohn's little book remains one of the most exhilarating accounts by an enthusiast that you'll ever read. Otherwise, his main claim to fame may be for writing Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night, the New York magazine article that became the basis for Saturday Night Fever (1977).

This is how he nicely sums up the popularity of the Shadows outside Britain:

Even now, if you're traipsing around the backwaters of Morocco and you stumble across a local group, they'll sound exactly like the Shadows, flat guitars and jigalong melodies and little leg kicks and all. In Spain or Italy or Yugoslavia, they're regarded as the pop giants of all time. Elvis Schmelvis. Beatles Schmeatles. Viva los Shads!

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