The Shadows of Knight – Back Door Men

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I’m embarrassed to say that until a few months ago, I had never heard of The Shadows of Knight. To say that I’ve been missing out is an understatement. Back Door Men, released in 1966 on Dunwich, is the quintessential 60s underground album. It’s garage rock; it’s blues; it’s protopunk! (Psych rock fans, there’s even a smidgen for you.) The Shadows of Knight were really only together for about three or four years in the mid-to-late 60s, with different unsuccessful incarnations existing in the 70s and later the 90s and 2000s. First, for the garage rock. Back Door Men has a solid foundation in garage rock with minor hits like “Tomorrow’s Going to Be Another Day” and “High Blood Pressure.” Both songs tap into that 60s beat, but “Tomorrow’s Going to Be Another Day” seems to go above and beyond. For the blues rock fans, this album is nothing short of top notch. The band reaches into its Chicago roots for that Chicago blues sound, covering legends like Jimmy Reed (“Peepin’ and Hidin'”) and Willie Dixon (“Spoonful”). Both songs are just as good if not better than the originals. But wait… there’s even more for you blues gurus. My personal favorite track of the album is “Hey Joe.” Yes, the Jimi Hendrix “Hey Joe.” While The Shadows of Knight did not write the song, as earlier versions exist, they are perhaps the first (or one of the first) to use such heavy feedback, which would inspire Jimi Hendrix to record his famous version six months after this album’s release. I personally think that this version is the best version I’ve heard, outperforming Hendrix, The Byrds, and several others. Point being, this album is a must for blues rock fans. Then there’s the protopunk angle. It’s interesting to note that most of the songs on the album are covers, but those that aren’t are definitely the most innovative. “Gospel Zone” and “I’ll Make You Sorry” are originals and are straight up protopunk. Both have hard, fast beats with lead singer, Jim Sohns, yelling above the instruments. Few bands can be said to have had that fiery punk energy so early in the 60s. These songs work to keep the album fresh in between blues numbers. They do a great job to keep the album cohesive and draw in protopunk fans. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget you, psychedelic rock fans, and neither did The Shadows of Knight. “The Behemoth” is an instrumental psychedelic rock song that draws on the bands blues background to create something that could only come out of the 60s. Overall, this album is fantastic. I can’t stop listening to it. Every song is great, and every song seems to speak to a different subgenre of underground 60s music. There’s no question: if you have even a passing interest in anything on this blog, you will enjoy this album. Buy it. Thank me in the comment section later.  A+

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