I might have suggested in my last post that Cliff and The Shadows utterly dominating the early months of 1963 would be a bad thing. I feel I spoke in haste; and would like to take it back. Especially when I see that The Shadows only have a handful of #1s left to come. We’ll be missing them soon enough.
Dance On!, by The Shadows (their 10th of twelve #1s)
1 week, from 24th – 31st January 1963
Besides – this is a significant moment in British chart history. Fresh from accompanying Cliff on ‘The Next Time’ and ‘Bachelor Boy’, The Shadows now grab a week at the summit for themselves. Not content with being the first act to replace themselves at #1 – back when ‘Apache’ took over from ‘Please Don’t Tease’ – they’ve only gone and done it again!
And unlike their most recent releases, there’s neither a piano nor any strings in sight. It’s just the guitars, the bass and the drums – four boys having a tight little boogie. It’s unmistakably a Shadows record – you’d know as much when Hank Marvin’s lead guitar comes in on ten seconds. I like the bass here, and the way the main riff is drenched in echo. Plus the false endings, where the guitar crunches back to life like a motorbike revving, are cool.
These things aside, though, it is a bit of a throwaway disc. Nice enough, but you’ve pretty much forgotten how it went five seconds after it ends. It’s The Shadows at their most Russ Conway-ish: a decent melody in search of a purpose. Even the name of the record – ‘Dance On!’ – is pretty basic compared to the ‘Boy’s Own’ adventures conjured up by their earlier #1s: ‘Apache’ and ‘Kon-Tiki’… They sounded as if they wanted to tell a story; this just wants you to shake your hips.
Which, I suppose, is a fundamental aspect of pop music. That’s what it all boils down to at the end of the day: shaking your hips. And you never get the feeling that this record is trying to be anything more than something you can dance (on!) to. Which makes it kind of hard to write about…
There you have it, then. The Shadows follow Elvis in hitting a double-figured amount of chart-topping discs. Hurrah! And, if you thought them replacing themselves at the top for the second time was an impressive act of chart dominance, you’ll never believe who is about to cut short the reign of ‘Dance On!’ at the top …