Raw ‘N Alive At The Cellar, Chicago – 1966

Shadows Of Knight

Sundazed Music, 1992


REVIEW BY: David Bowling


There were thousands of psychedelic bands during the mid-to-late 1960s. Their musicianship was primitive and the sound was raw. What these bands lacked in skill, however, they made up for in enthusiasm and energy, though 98 percent of these groups would disappear without recording a note.

Every once in awhile one of these psych bands would, intentionally or by accident, cross over into a pop sound and have a hit record. They would achieve sudden and fleeting fame and then quickly slip back into their original non-commercial sound, leaving their one brilliant shining moment behind.

The Shadows Of Knight would have been just another short-lived sixties band if not for the song “Gloria.” The Shadows Of Knight took this Van Morrison and Them song and polished it, adding a guitar rock beat and constructing one of the classic songs of the mid-sixties. Rock fans forty years later still recognize the Shadows Of Knight singing G L O R I A, Gloria.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Raw ‘N Alive At The Cellar, Chicago – 1966 is an apt title. The Shadows of Knight are basically a bar band and that is how they come across on this album. The sound is not the best, yet still the listener is provided with an excellent look at what sixties psychedelic music was all about. The audience feeds off the energy level, which makes up for a lot of the musical mistakes.

The Shadows Of Knight, like many bar bands, turned to old rhythm and blues standards to fill out their sets. “I Got My Mojo Working” combines a turned-up, thumping bass, Joe Kelley’s whining lead guitar and Jim Sohns vocals, all played at a frenetic pace. If you can’t play a song well, play fast and play loud is the motto of the Shadows Of Knight here: the old Chuck Berry song “Let It Rock” is played fast, faster, fastest, and even the old warhorse “Hey Joe” is sped up until it is almost unrecognizable.

Still, when the Shadows Of Knight slow down, they are better off. “Oh Yeah” is a strong song with constant rhythm change and a screaming vocal. “Got To Get You Off My Mind” is actually fairly mellow and provides a good break from the rest of the set. The Wilson Picket song, Don’t Fight It,” is given a rock treatment that works.

The disc ends with a six minute version of “Gloria.” The length is probably a little to long but “Gloria” is just so much better than the rest of the set’s material that it shows very clearly how inspired they were this one time in their career. 

Raw ‘N Alive At The Cellar, Chicago – 1966 is now over forty years old. Is the music great? Probably not. Is the music essential? In some ways, probably so. The Shadows Of Knight and many similar groups established a sound that other and, in fairness, more talented and creative groups would add to and refine. Groups such as Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and the punk movement of the mid-seventies all owe a debt of gratitude to their psychedelic rock ancestors, making this album a good example of one of rock music’s important family trees.

Rating: B

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© 2008 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sundazed Music, and is used for informational purposes only.