Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Obscure European U.S. Releases: The Shanes

THE SHANES-Chris Craft No. 9/Time U.S. Capitol 5963 1967

The Shanes from were Sweden. Though they don't rate high in my book with other acts from their native country like The Tages, The Mascots or Ola & the Janglers they did produce the occasional cool track.  Today's subject was oddly released in the U.S. in July 1967 (it's Swedish counterpart was previously issued in February of that year as Columbia DS 2339). It was their 13th release in Sweden and to my knowledge their first and only U.S. 45. It's also my favorite Shanes track, and no doubt everyone elses.

Barracks life: The Shanes pose in their Swedish army dwelling

"Chris Craft No. 9" was recorded in England in late 1966.  The Shanes were one of the first Swedish beat groups to record in England, preceding The Tages and the Lee Kings in doing so. "Chris Craft No.9" is an ode to a boating vessel (Chris Craft was and still is a manufacturer of boats of all shapes and sizes) that melodically owes a bit to "A Must To Avoid", a Sloan/Barry hit for Herman's Hermits in 1965. That minor "coincidence" aside it's a stunning record for it's time, not sounding a bit '67 but more a '65-'66 beat record with some great hooks and stellar harmonies (and covered way back by our local heroes The Insomniacs) and a driving beat with an ear worm of a chorus ("Chris Craft number nine, you're welcome aboard.."). "Time" it's B-side is dreadful.  It's a below pedestrian ballad that was excruciating to listen through one full time, just dead boring and awful.

Sadly things did not bode well for the band after this single hit the streets as four members were called up to serve in the Swedish army and the remaining fifth member enlisted as a sign of solidarity which kept them off the music scene for almost a year. Sweden's military at the time (like that of Denmark and Holland) were quite liberal in the sense that they did not require recruits to cut their hair allowed the band's locks to remain unshorn (see photo above).

"Chris Craft No.9" appeared on a CD comp of Capitol records sides titled "Book A Trip: The Psych Pop Sounds of Capitol Records" put out a few years back and recently is available on the excellent new Shanes 22 track CD retrospective  "Let Them Show You: 1964-1967" on RPM.

The Shanes in action, 1967

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Hear "Chris Craft No.9":


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