Thursday, January 15, 2015

Great Lakes Spotlight: The Shadows of Knight - Bad Little Woman/Gospel Zone

You Bad Little Woman! Welcome back to day 5 of the Great Lakes-Region of the Battle of the Garage Bands. We've written extensively about The Shadows of Knight in the past. As any casual Flip-Side reader will know, this band is one of our favorites. 

The Shadows of Knight were formed in the hallways of an Arlington Heights, Illinois High School (the school nickname was...the Knights. Get it?). After a few early mutations and instrument swapping, the band settled into the line-up of Jim Sohns on vocals, Warren Rogers on Bass, Joe Kelly on lead guitar, Jerry McGeorge on rhythm guitar and Tom Schiffour on drums. In early 1966, The Shadows of Knight would release the first ever record for one of the all-time great garage labels, Dunwich Records. That record was their cleaned up cover of Them's Gloria

But today we feature the 2nd single from The Shadows of Knight. And, believe it or not, it is also a cover of a record from Northern Ireland, this time a record by an obscure group called The Wheels. The Wheels covered Gloria for their debut in September of 1965. That was released only in the UK. For that band's second release they did two originals: Bad Little Woman with a flip-side of Roadblock. But here is the kicker. That single was released on a local US label called Aurora Records one month before it was released in the UK. The band name was unceremoniously changed to The Wheel-A-Ways, the flip-side was changed to a different song and the version of Bad Little Woman is an early demo version, not the same pounding one released in the UK a month later. Both versions of The Wheels' release can be heard here. 

It was likely the languid demo version mistakingly shipped to and released on Aurora in January of '66 that was presented to The Shadows of Knight for consideration. Regardless, The Shadows of Knight version of the song is dramatically different than either version by The Wheels. 

According to Jerry McGeorge, who has recently been in touch with us at Flip-Side:
The Wheels' Bad Little Woman was presented to us in demo form as a potential single. We came off the road to do the sessions for the second album and recorded it at that time, early Summer '66. We weren't nuts about it the way it sounded and someone got the idea of having Hawk [aka David Wolinski] add keyboards to fill it out, which worked splendidly.
We concur with McGeorge. The floating organ over the song creates a lush bed for the band to soar over the song. Joe Kelly, one of the most talented and under-appreciated lead guitarists in the US garage scene, paints a beautiful picture with his deep bends. McGeorge also informs us that Kelly plays a Gibson ES 335 (see pics) on the recording and you can really feel the power of the guitar as the band kicks into the glorious lead break at 1:15. But his guitar work is never better than right after the break when he responds so delicately to singer Jim Sohns' restrained vocals. 
He brought you home last night
Smelled like gypsy rose
Now I don't know just where you been
He only knows
He says he loves you baby
Just like I love you
He says he loves you baby
Just like I love you
Oh no, it's not true!
The band had a pattern in their releases. A non-band composed number on the A-Side, a fabulous original relegated to the Flip-Side. In this case it is one of The Shadows of Knight's best recordings, the drummer composed Gospel Zone. It opens with a rip-roaring dead-switching effect by Kelly or McGeorge that then catches fire and propels the song into an infectious groove. The bass work by Warren Rogers really stands out on this number. It sounds to this listener like he is playing a hollow body bass. We're guessing the same Framus Star Bass in the pics below. Oddly, Gospel Zone was released by Dunwich as a one-sided promo in severely edited down form, clocking in at a full minute less than the normal take. We've only ever seen one copy of that record.

Credit where credit is deserved: I've nicked almost all of the photographs from a Joe Kelly fan site which can be found here.

Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

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