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Date: 10/05/16

The Shadows - "Atlantis" (1963)

Aware as I am that - due to 2016 having been so far a right old Scheißstrom - there has been comparatively little posted in this section, I thought I'd resort to something I did in the early part of 2011 and post some of my favourite pieces of music here.

This is one which has meant an awful lot to me for longer than any other - close on fifty years, in fact. When I was a small boy in the late sixties, the only thing we had to play records on in our house was - and I swear I'm not making this up - an old wind-up gramophone, sapphire needle and all. This meant that the only records which could be played were the members of a small pile of 78s - some of them dating back to about World War One - which my father had somehow accumulated (some of which you can hear here, here, here and here).

All this changed when my brother - by then living in Shrewsbury with his first wife - bought a spiffy new record player and passed on to us the Emisonic (like the one seen here, but in two-tone green) which he had had bought for him as a birthday present when he was a teenager. This opened things up to the world of 45s and LPs (although not so much the latter; we only had three LPs in the house and - because of a small flaw in the design of the machine - you had to put a single underneath the LP otherwise the larger disc would catch on the casing). To assist in this, my brother also handed on a number of his old singles, including the one which we're discussing here.

I might as well mention also that - because of the age of the house and the fact that it hadn't been rewired since it had been built some thirty-odd years before, there was a dire shortage of sockets where anything electrical could be plugged in. In fact, there had been only one socket in the entire house (in the living room or, as we somewhat confusingly called it 'the kitchen'; the place where the cooking and so on took place was known as 'the back kitchen, in case you were wondering...or cared) until my father - ever the practical man - ran sockets (and these were the old round-pin type as well) to the back kitchen and - ultimately - to the bedrooms. This last facility was still a year or two off at the time I'm referring to, however, which meant that when I took the Emisonic upstairs to my bedroom, it had to be plugged in via a bayonet plug to the light fitting in the ceiling. This also meant, of course, that it couldn't be used up there outside of daylight hours.

Anyway, I digress. I still have all of the discs 'bequeathed' to me by Brian at that time: Buddy Holly's It Doesn't Matter Anymore, Paul Anka's Lonely Boy, Billy Fury's Jealousy, stuff like that. But an immediate favourite - especially because even then I preferred instrumentals to vocals - was Atlantis by The Shadows, which had been a hit for them in 1963. I'm not sure what it was about it which attracted me to it in preference to all the others; it's a great tune (written by Jerry Lordan, who had provided them with the classic Apache three years before) well performed, with a classy string backing by Norrie Paramor. It's just one of those things - you can't adequately explain why something goes straight to the soul, even to the extent that - if I ever get around to the practicalities of it - it's one of the pieces of music I want played at the crem when the time comes.

For the past forty-blah-blah years, therefore, it has been on what the biz calls 'heavy rotation' here. So why haven't I posted this video before? Well, it boils down to the difficulty of finding one which has the right version on it. It seems that the version of the recording which appears on various 'greatest hits' and compilation collections is either a stereo version - which sounds terribly thin to me in any case - or a different mix of the mono original. This alternate mix has the strings mixed somewhat lower down throughout, and mixed out almost completely right at the end (especially the cello and lower-end violin lines) which, to my ears, creates an awfully weak and anti-climactic effect.

(We had quite a discussion about this on the single's page at 45cat over a period of about five years)

At the end of last year, I finally tracked down a YouTube video which plays what I insist on calling the 'correct' version, complete with the powerful contribution of the strings at the end. Here it is: