Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA Light Valley Shadows - Rapid River
|Light Valley Shadows are a Swedish band that worships at the alter of the Shadows. Yet, they are not a clone. Wit the addition of reverb and piano, they have a unique and refreshing sound. The band has a much more American sound than other coming from this reference point, even approaching surf at times. The performances are pristine, and most of the arranging quite good.|
Picks: Man Of Mystery, Perfidia, Rapid River, Atlantis, Peace Pipe, The Stranger, Time Is Tight, Foot Tapper / Walk Don't Run, Little 'B', Podmoskovnyje Vetjera, Sleepwalk, Round and Round, F.B.I., Gonzales, Find Me A Golden Street, The Boys, Quartermasters Stores, Frightened City, Passage Through Millennium
Track by Track Review
The brittle harshness of the Shadows's sound is replaced with a rounder and warmer sound, while the roots remain intact. Perhaps the efficient use of stereo mixing, perhaps merely a modern warmth and perspective, but Light Valley Shadows's rendition of "Man Of Mystery" is fresh, yet very reverent. Some parts are almost Italian Mafia, while others approach surf. Excellent track.
Alberto Dominguez' classic made famous in rock by the Ventures finds very respectable whammy laden near surf post Pacific Northwest treatment. Not absorbed in the Shadows mystique, but rather reinterpreted with a fresh face on.
Sub Surf (Instrumental)
Somewhat crunchy, fluid and melodic, with a gentle edge and low note twang. This tune's melody line is structured almost like a surf instro, and certainly could find life in the genre under the hands of the Space Cossacks or perhaps King of Hawaii. "Rapid River" was written by Jan-Eric Rehn, whose name I don't recognize, and is not a current band member.
Shadows MOR (Instrumental)
This is much more Shadows-like... maybe slushier. It's very pretty, but the "strings" holds it in the MOR camp.
"Peace Pipe" is really prettied out. Very light weight, almost airy. Gorgeous guitar sound, and excellent playing all around.
A solid performance! The excellent use of piano (thank you very much) sets this apart from the Shadows' version, even though the reverence is there. I love the plinky rock and roll piano.
Memphis Soul (Instrumental)
Booker T. and the MG's's "Time Is Tight" never quite sounded like this... well not exactly. The keys are cool, and the rhythm is just right. A smooth groove for an afternoon in a Memphis daydream. It does have a bit of a big production feel, but the big guitar whammy brings it back around, as does the gradually swelling Leslie and the ringing guitar in the middle section. Very nice.
Foot Tapper / Walk Don't Run
This is an interesting pairing. The Shadows' "Foot Tapper" is more than delicate, almost Les Paul, with that great added piano. Johnny Smith's "Walk Don't Run" on the other hand is more like the Ventures, whammified and round. The use of the organ keys versus the piano makes it even more like the boys from Tacoma. Quite competent. Both songs are full length.
Brian Bennett's chunker is more a bluesy jam, with lots of excellent and well recorded drum action. Quite a skins workout.
Gypsy Rock (Instrumental)
"Midnight In Moscow" sounds oh-so fluid in this nearly reverbed gypsy rendition, so much more so than the more familiar jazz band hit. Very tasty.
Santo and Johnny' "Sleep Walk" seldom survives non lap steel delivery. This is so liquid, it works really well. Nice job!
Very Shadows-like, this is a round number with a real Euro guitar instro feel. Again, it's the great piano that makes this come alive.
The very playful Shadows song floats just above the ground. The offbeat percussive keys are very cool. It's much lighter than other arrangements, and the piano glissando is quite nice.
Rhythmic and bouncy, this very British sounding version of the Shadows's tune is quite tasty. Excellent whammy, solid playing, and warm sound.
I can't say I've heard this Fireballs' tune played with such round smoothness. Where most of the more familiar covers drive it harder with more damped reverb, Light Valley Shadows use that Euro guitar tone, restrain the performance with subtle delicacy, and induce fine piano as well. Really nice.
Shadows MOR (Instrumental)
Much too MOR for me, this is fluffy and light weight, as was much of the Shadows' later output. very well played, just too slushy for the surf scene. But wait, there's that great piano and some bit drums... hmmm.
Shadows Rockabilly (Instrumental)
The traditional military piece, put together with playful and fluid tones. There's no doubt about the grins on the faces as this was being recorded. Chunky and somewhat like a Shadows interpretation of fifties American small label rockabilly. Quite cool.
The piano adds drama to an otherwise dangerous number. It adds a sense of art and blues to the back alley feel of the main melody line. Quite refreshing.
Passage Through Millennium
Right Of Spring (Instrumental)
Soft floating sounds drift across the demarcation without even noticing the shift in time. Bits of spy, strings, delicate plucking, and wistful mystery. Almost a right of spring.