Saturday, November 2, 2019

Shake it some more & some more

Every once in a while, a song will land on you that you didn't know you couldn't live without. In late 1965, Tony Sheridan and The Big Six issued the single "Shake It Some More" on Polydor International. By the middle of the decade, Sheridan was a has-been—had he really been a been? He was, of course, a popular fixture on the beat music scene in Hamburg, West Germany in the early 1960s where he was infamously paired up with a frightfully young Beatles in the studio for a handful of tracks, released in 1961 under Sheridan and The Beat Brothers (and in a million more iterations down the decades). Like so many musicians on the U.K. and northern European rock and roll scenes, Sheridan was laid waste by the Beatles meteoric success, and as the decade roared on was largely forgotten. (Sheridan was visited upon by luck more than once: on tour in April 1960 with Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran, he'd angled for a car ride with the two headliners but was refused. That fateful ride ended in an accident that killed Cochran and left Vincent badly and permanently hurt.)

Sheridan released several singles, EPs, and the odd album in the 1960s in various styles and approaches, but remained, unfairly or not, in the shadows. He obviously wrote "Shake It Some More" with the pop market in mind. (If you're interested in the story of Sheridan's backing band, The Big Six, Nick Warburton's got you covered here.) The tune bears hallmarks of the Dance Of The Week era, already unfashionable by the time Polydor issued the single, yet to my ears "Shake It Some More" transcends the origin of its composition, to paraphrase Joyce Carol Oates. Sheridan and his band get their hands around something eternal in this simple, three-chord-based, garage-cha-cha tune, and play it loosely but with swinging propulsion; it's recorded well, too, with terrific dynamics. "Shake It Some More" does just about everything a rock and roll song has to do: gets you up, moving and grinning, encourages you to forget the shitty things in your life for a few minutes, reminds you that this song's always playing in the background somewhere if you'd only pay attention. Redemptive, that. The words are children's-book simple: one two three four shake it some more, five six seven eight don't you be late, hey shake it baby, shake it right now 'cause I feel alright now. On the right night, one man's nonsense is another's bible verse, not simplistic so much as elemental—eternal, I'd say, in the sense that anyone might've urged those lines, perhaps in a different language, in a different idiom, but with the same cheery invitation: c'mon let's get up.

"Shake It Some More" is, of course, only one of many, many like tunes from the beat group era, and I don't really know why it stuck on me and has become a longtime favorite. Partly its obscurity, partly the Sheridan link, but mostly the perpetual rocking beat, the moving clarity of it all. I arrived at the song in a fun way, as you do. The Swingin' Neckbreakers taught me the tune first on their debut Live For Buzz in 1993. Virtually the next week, it seemed, Lyres issued a version of the tune on a b-side. Serendipity! The needle landing at the same spot twice, which lightning never does, or so goes the myth, anyway. I dug both versions and commenced a fruitless search for the original 45 that lasted many years. I finally tracked down a copy via discogs without paying exorbitantly. Decades-worth of scratches and all, here's a simple, eternal beaut:

Here's a terrific video of Sheridan and his band performing the song on the German Beat Beat Beat television show in 1966. Sheridan's selling it, though the limitations of his charm and idol-esque look are apparent. The dancers? They're an odd blend of eagerness, resentment, and bafflement, but from the looks of it things are loosening up at the end:


Meanwhile here are the Neckbreakers' and Lyres' versions. Who wore it best?

Photo of Sheridan via Alchetron.

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