483. ‘Green Door’, by Shakin’ Stevens

Proving that the British public can only remain serious for so long (three weeks, to be precise) here is Shakin’ Stevens knocking The Specials’ ‘Ghost Town’ off the top with another slice of old-style rockin’ and rollin’…

Green Door, by Shakin’ Stevens (his 2nd of four #1s)

4 weeks, 26th July – 23rd August 1981

‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ was obviously the motto pinned to the wall of Shaky’s recording studio. He takes the fun rockabilly of ‘This Ole House’, and ups both the fun and the rockabilly. A boogie-woogie piano and some clicking fingers lead us in to a tale of mystery and intrigue… Just what is behind the green door?

There’s an old piano and they’re playin’ hot, Behind the green door… Is it a bar? Don’t know what they’re doin’ but they laugh a lot, Behind the green door… Is it more than a bar…? A speakeasy? A strip-club? A brothel?? And why does it sound like the door leads directly off from Shaky’s bedroom, as he lies awake all night…?

It’s not a record that holds up much under scrutiny. But, you suspect, that was never the point. This wasn’t written with an eye on it being dissected in literature classes. The grannies and the kids ran out and bought Stevens’s first #1 in their droves, and this is aimed at the same crowd. And I personally can’t say no to some good ol’ fashioned rock ‘n’ roll, especially in an era where traditional ‘guitar’ music was in short supply at the top of the charts. There’s a great, twangy solo too, which ends in a note for note replica of the solo from ‘That’ll Be the Day’.

Shaky tries his best to get in to this here club, but has the door slammed in his face each time. I do like the hospitality’s thin there… line. It’s never specified why he isn’t allowed in – maybe the singer’s just got a baby face? I can sympathise, having spent most of 2002-03 trying, and largely failing, to get into nightclubs with a fake I.D. Wikipedia lists the song’s possible inspirations as including a Chicago speakeasy, London’s first lesbian bar, and a short story by H.G. Wells, among others.

‘Green Door’ is a cover – it had to be, right? – of a 1956 US #1 originally recorded in fairly pre-rock fashion by Jim Lowe. Frankie Vaughan took a fun big-band version to #2 over here. But I like Shakin’ Stevens’ version just as much. It rocks. And I don’t mean in a karaoke-ish, Elvis-impersonating way. It rocks, in a way that I wish more of the mid-seventies rock ‘n’ roll revival hits from the likes of Mud, Showaddywaddy and Alvin Stardust did. It still sounds completely out of place, considering ‘Ghost Town’ before, and the record coming up next, but who cares? Variety is, as they say, the spice of life, and in 1981 Shaky was bringing it to the top of the charts. He was in the middle of a red-hot streak here, and will be back in pole position again soon.

15 thoughts on “483. ‘Green Door’, by Shakin’ Stevens

  1. I like this one better than the other you posted. You are educating me….I had another blogger post a Christmas song by him and I knew who he was! We were both amazed on how huge he was there but not as much over here. The blogger grew up in Canada and he knew of him….they played Stevens there more than here.

      • It’s just so hard to believe for some reason…
        I’m checking more of his music out.
        BTW…Have a great Christmas.
        I gave my friend Dave your blog address. I think he would like your posts. He is from Canada and he knows a lot of the ones you post from his time in Canada….Canada was more UK friendly with songs than America I’ve learned.

      • I mean, he never deviated far from his rockabilly stuff, but he did it well… I think you’ll enjoy some of it.

        Merry Christmas to you too! (I do have one more post before the big day – a Xmas song) And thanks for the promo! I follow Dave and sometimes comment on his posts… Not sure he follows me though.

      • I’ve liked what I’ve heard so far.

        Oh ok cool. I probably have seen you there but forgot it.
        I’ll be looking forward to the Christmas post!

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  3. Poor Shaky gets a bit of a bad rap! Not from me though. During the UK Rockabilly / Rock n Roll revival of the late 70s, Shakin’ Stevens & The Sunsets vied with Crazy Cavan & The Rhythm Rockers as being the torch bearers for the genre. I actually bought a few of his bands’ albums on cassette and vinyl and still play them today.
    He did unfortunately, later in his solo career, become almost a bit of a cheesy parody of himself, but yeah, his early solo efforts definitely hold up in the world of general pop. 🙂

    • You’ve got to give him credit for sticking it out as long as he did – success didn’t come overnight for him. I listened to more of his stuff when writing my posts on his first 3 #1s, and it was all good, if a little samey after a while. I’d happily never hear his Xmas song again though!

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