Sunday, 1 February 2009

1981 Shakin Stevens: This Ole House

Long before his cabaret style persona, Stevens fronted a hardcore R&R revivalist band 'The Sunsets' and had been recording since the early seventies. Success was a long time coming, but Shaky hit paydirt in the early eighties with a succession of cover versions of more obscure 1950's tunes, like this one. Originally a country fused with pop 1954 number one hit for Rosemary Clooney, Stevens knew his history well enough to be able to get under the skin of the track and make it move to his will. His heritage and passion for all things rock 'n' roll ensured that he wasn't going to re-interpret this to gloomily emphasises its morbid subject matter. Not on your life; rather, his attack is shot through with a vigour and verve that puts many of the contemporary 'new wave' acts to shame and raises it a few notches above karaoke. As if punk never happened indeed! Stevens may have later become a caricature of his own persona that belied his traditionalist past, and this may be just a another cover version, but it's a highly competent one that updates and revamps rather than just lazily (re) paint by numbers. And you can't ask for much more than that.

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