335) The Lords — “Shakin All Over”
Ah, “Shakin’ All Over,” it sends quivers down my backbone. The song has a long and proud pedigree, beginning as a #1 UK hit for (and written by) Johnny Kidd & the Pirates in ’60, then a #1 Canadian hit in ’65 for Chad Allan & the Reflections/The Guess Who, then thrillingly performed by the Who at the University of Leeds in ’70. But to my mind, the best version of this chestnut is the ’65 A-side by the Lords.
As John Einarson relates, “the record that put Winnipeg [and the Guess Who] on the [Canadian] national map” was born in England:
[Johnny] Kidd . . . explained, “When I was going round with a bunch of lads and we happened to see a girl who was a real sizzler, we used to say that she gave us ‘quivers down the membranes.’ It was a standard saying with us referring to any attractive girl. I can honestly say that it was this more than anything that inspired me to write Shakin’ All Over.”https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/entertainment/music/mystery-men-411445995.html
[Toronto’s] Quality Records . . . sent out radio-play copies across the country of a 45-rpm single mysteriously credited simply to Guess Who? With everything British dominating both the pop charts and the collective consciousness of teens, it was nearly impossible for homegrown recording artists to gain national airplay on radio stations. [The label] decided to hoodwink radio programmers . . . gambling on the fact the distinct British style and infectious sound of the 45, along with the ambiguous identity, would pique interest. The ruse worked. Within weeks, Shakin’ All Over was charting coast to coast, and by March it was either No. 1 or in the top 5 on every major radio station nationally. It was then that the mystery was revealed. Guess Who? was none other than Winnipeg quintet Chad Allan & the Expressions. Suddenly, Winnipeg became the rock ’n’ roll capital of Canada. What’s more, the single broke down the regional barriers that had prevented Canadian recording artists from achieving cross-country success. “The importance of Shakin’ All Over cannot be overestimated for the Canadian pop music landscape of early 1965,” states writer/broadcaster Bob Mersereau . . . . “There had been plenty of regional hits from local artists . . . that got the kids in say, Vancouver or Halifax all excited. But [n]ational No. 1s were reserved for the Beatles, and after them came a dozen more British Invasion artists. [R]egional acts barely had a prayer. But before programmers knew it, they’d been tricked into giving the mystery band an even playing field. Then the kids took over . . . .” What is further astonishing about the success of Shakin’ All Over is it was not the intended hit. It was [a] B-side . . . .
All well and good, but what about the Lords? Richie Unterberger writes in All Music Guide that:
Quite popular in [Germany], the Lords made no impression in the English-speaking world . . . . The[y] are one of those groups that have to be heard to be believed. Although they had the requisite moptop haircuts, their repertoire was surprisingly anachronistic at times, drawing heavily from not only German drinking songs, but American folk tunes, Lonnie Donegan’s skiffle, and the pre-Beatle British rock of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates. Whatever they covered [including “Shakin’ All Over”] — they made their own with frantically fast tempos, heavily accented Teutonic vocals (virtually all of their material was in English), and heavy overuse of tremelo guitar lines with mucho reverb, whammy bar, and Lesley organ-like effects. . . . [T]hey were fun, and they had the hearts of true rockers . . . . [T]hese covers are so eccentric, done as they are with heavy German accents and a hepped-up Merseybeat-like rhythm, that it’s a lot better and more interesting than most such cover-dominated albums of the time.
Here is some great footage from the Lords’s appearance on the Beat Club:
Here is where it all began — Johnny Kidd & the Pirates:
Here is the Guess Who:
And here is the Who, live at Leeds: