Apologies for recommending elderly American men in consecutive months, but two events made the choice for me: firstly, and very sadly, George “Shadow” Morton died earlier this year, but coincidently, and happily, Ace records have this month released a compilation of his songs and productions.
He first came to prominence in 1964 when his song Remember (Walking in the Sand) was recorded by The Shangri – La’s and reached number 5 in the US pop charts. Interesting fact: Billy Joel played piano on it! He subsequently had even bigger success with Leader of the Pack, which was a hit in 1964, but attained classic status by becoming a hit again in 1965, 1972 and 1974! His trademark song juxtaposed teen lyrics against a mixture of pop and R&B, with sound effects and inventive percussion, producing mini epics – musical soap operas, if you like, that still resonate with today’s teens, as well as with their parents, and even grand parents. He then moved on to produce more hits for Janis Ian, with Society’s Girl, and artists as diverse as Vanilla Fudge, (You keep me Hnagin’ On) and the incredible proto metal Iron Butterfly epic In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida – originally 17 minutes ling. but here in an edited version. After this his last significant contribution to music was the production of the New York Dolls second album, which was one of the main building blocks of punk rock. Following this Shadow left the world of music to become a golf club designer!
This compilation of his work is just a great listen – full of melodrama, singalong tunes, some surprises but above all great songs.
Nigel House, Co-founder, Rough Trade record shops.