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Shades Of Blue (USA): Happiness Is The Shades Of Blue (Impact IM 101, 1966)
Linda Allen (joint lead vocals)
This vocal group started life in a doo-wop style, but had moved towards soulful pop by the time of their only LP. It’s a nice period piece, but nothing whatever to do with the hippie movement, as the front cover photograph of the smartly dressed, well-groomed band proves. Or as the sleeve notes put it: ‘Linda is the pretty one with the long hair and the boys have short hair, which is as it should be, but isn’t very often any more. They are clean cut, delightful people, an asset in this business.’ GRADE: C.

Shades Of Mac Murrough (Ireland): Carrig River (Polydor 2908 007, 1973)

Mary O’ Neill, Josephine O’ Neill
Irish Polydor’s most-collected band after Loudest Whisper, Mac Murrough (or ‘Shades Of Mac Murrough’, as they billed themselves on this debut LP) were a trio of two sisters and a male friend, playing a wide variety of stringed instruments between them. The arrangements are too lush and diverse to call traditional folk, yet there are barely any rock elements, despite the presence of a guest bassist. Instead, the band concentrates on creating a gentle and wistful atmosphere, with beautiful three part harmonies and plenty of tinkling harpsichord.

See also Mac Murrough, Various ‘From Lagan To Lee’

Shaggs (USA): Philosophy Of The World (Third World 3001, 1969)
‘Incredibly Strange Music’
Dorothy Wiggin (lead vocals, guitar), Betty Wiggin (guitar, backing vocals), Helen Wiggin (drums)
The backstory behind this album is well known – deranged hillbilly meets a fortune-teller who informs him that his teenage daughters will become famous rock stars, and subsequently bullies them into forming a band and writing and recording an album despite their complete lack of musical talent. But the music itself is fascinating – bizarre, untuned modal guitars creating almost Eastern psychedelic patterns whilst metronomic drums randomly break into ostentatious paradiddles and tuneless vocals deliver inane, mildly surreal lyrics. Unintentionally mirroring the minimalism of the early Velvet Underground, this is nothing short of an astounding musical experience, so it’s no surprise that it became revered by Carla Bley, Frank Zappa and other avant-gardists. GRADE: A.
Shaggs (USA): Shaggs’ Own Thing (Rounder 3056, 1982, recorded 1972-1975)
‘Incredibly Strange Music’
Dorothy Wiggin (principal vocals, guitar), Betty Wiggin (occasional vocals, guitar), Rachel Wiggin (bass), Helen Wiggin (drums)
This retrospective compilation mixes studio recordings from 1975, a couple of early seventies home demos and a lo-fi 1972 live take of ‘Gimme Dat Ding’. Blending Dorothy Wiggin originals (including two versions of the title track, one featuring their father), a charming Betty Wiggin number (‘Painful Memories’) and a few covers, it has the same dislocated eeriness as their first, but they’d become far more proficient musicians in the meantime so this doesn’t have the same astonishing sense of weirdness. For the most part, it’s actually a rather charming collection of mid sixties-style garage pop, sounding like an impossibly ancient school project LP. GRADE: C+.

See also Dot Wiggin Band

Shaï No Shaï (France): Human Condition (BMG 74321405822, CD, 1996)
Olga Helm (lead vocals), Laurence Martinez (violin)
With arrangements build around acoustic guitars and propulsive drums, hinting at both regional folk styles and modern indie rock, this French band have an unusual and mildly interesting style. Over 13 self-penned songs, they explore the limits of this relatively narrow style, adding in world music elements and slight touches of trip-hop to vary the mood: the result is a pleasant and accomplished set. As a footnote, the album reprises three of the four songs from their 1994 EP, leaving off the closing ‘Indifference’ on which they switched to electric guitar and upped the rock quotient. GRADE: C+.

Shakespeares (UK): Music For Advertising (No label LYN 372/3, 1964?)
Joan Shakespeare
Issued in a handsome black, red and white flipback sleeve, this promotional album showcased the talents of advertising jingle writers John and Joan Shakespeare. Side one recompiles their ‘greatest hits’ with a voiceover, and whilst it provides an interesting snapshot of mid-sixties advertising will be of limited interest to collectors. Side two, however, has a rather good fifteen-minute jazzy suite, used as the soundtrack to a documentary for Max Factor. GRADE: C+.

Peter Shallamandi (France): Ehad Project (Muséa Parallèle MP 3329, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2015)
Claire Auger (joint lead vocals, violin), Sarah Trutet (joint lead vocals), Audrey Lopes (joint lead vocals), Nadia Nid El Mourid (joint lead vocals, handclaps), Yamina Nid El Mourid (joint lead vocals, handclaps), Véronique Degreave (occasional vocals), Martine Brutet (occasional vocals), Marie-Christine Viaud (occasional vocals), Marie Auger (occasional vocals)
This is certainly an ambitious venture: an attempt to unify progressive and classical music to capture the spirit and atmosphere of Jerusalem. Suffused in Hebrew and Middle Eastern musical references, it functions as a more-or-less continuous suite of music, blending high-tech, ethnic and classical instrumentation with choral voices. But how successful is it? The short answer is ‘somewhat’. At its best, this is a remarkably varied and far-reaching album packed with surprises, but its straitened circumstances sometimes become obvious and there are a few moments when you’ll wonder why you’re listening to a bargain-basement Mike Oldfield instead of the real thing. GRADE: B–.

Shalom Riot (West Germany): Wie Mit Rauschen Das Meer… (Daviton 30.084, 1984)
Kathrin Steinle (joint lead vocals)
The shorter songs on this Christian album aren’t particularly exciting, being soft, melodic folk/rock with catchy choruses in a style vaguely similar to Peter Janssens. However, the three longer cuts are much more interesting, adding lots of tempo changes, unexpected diversions and bursts of fuzz guitar, making one wish they had included half the number of songs with twice the running time. GRADE: C+.

Shanghai (South Africa/USA): Shanghai (Chrysalis CHR 1389, 1982)
Amanda Cohen (lead vocals)
This is the largely South African (but American-based) AOR band Spider under a different name, but with exactly the same musical style. Whilst there’s nothing exactly wrong with this, it’s as generic as eighties rock gets and certainly wouldn’t feature on the website if the core of the band (Amanda Cohen, Keith Lentin and Anton Fig) hadn’t been in the vastly superior Hammak in the early seventies. GRADE: C.
See also Amanda Cohen, Hammak, Spider

Shape Of Despair (Finland): Shades Of… (Spikefarm naula 005, CD, 2000)
Natalie Koskinen (occasional vocals), Johanna Vakkuri (flute)
This is basically symphonic doom, given distnction by the unusual use of flute as a main lead instrument. In small doses, it’s majestic stuff, but the band maintains exactly the same approach over all five of the very long tracks. Added to that, the death growl vocals, as usual, do absolutely nothing for me; with a different vocal approach and a bit more variety this could have been an excellent LP. GRADE: C+.
Shape Of Despair (Finland): Angels Of Distress (Spinefarm NAULA 018, CD, with digipak, 2001)
Natalie Koskinen (occasional vocals)
Like their debut, this is well-crafted and majestic, with strong classical undertones and a few really excellent moments. However, it’s again rather one-paced and predictable, sometimes approaching the soporific. GRADE: C+.
Shape Of Despair (Finland): Illusion’s Play (Spikefarm Naula 052 • 982178-4, CD, 2004)
Natalie Koskinen (occasional vocals)
This is the best of their three studio albums, with majestic crescendos of sound, ultra-heavy yet relaxed riffing, and some pleasant, almost ambient, keyboard interludes. In fact, if it weren’t for the ridiculous death vocals, this would have been a B–. GRADE: C+.
Shape Of Despair (Finland): Shape Of Despair (Season Of Mist SOM 131, CD, USA, 2006, recorded 1995-2005)
Natalie Koskinen (occasional vocals)
This collection of previously unreleased recordings (some of exclusive songs, others alternate takes) has a much more stripped-down sound than their other LPs. Indeed, the closing ‘In The Mist’ almost takes them into avant-garde drone territory, with an impressively minimalist and brutal approach. However, yet again it’s the vocals that prevent the album from achieving its full potential. GRADE: C+.

Shape Of Despair (Finland): Monotony Fields (Season Of Mist SOM 356D, CD, with digipak, France, 2015)
Natalie Koskinen (occasional vocals)
Returning from the grave (appropriately enough for a funeral doom band) after more than a decade, Shape Of Despair quickly demonstrate that they have learned no new tricks in the meantime. Like their earlier albums, this is majestic, haunting and atmospheric, but also like their earlier albums the music never actually does much – and the death vocals are still downright silly. GRADE: C+.

Shape Of Despair (Finland): Return To The Void (Season Of Mist SOM 638D, CD, with digipak and booklet, France, 2022)
Natalie Koskinen (joint lead vocals)
With Russia having invaded Ukraine at the time of writing, these Finns are perhaps a little too close to comfort – so for once they have plenty to be gloomy about. Maybe that’s why this is their best album, though with a band like this I’d have to listen to everything again to be sure I’m not just in a generous mood. But it certainly sounds like their best: powerful, majestic and imperious, with the death growls largely replaced by an almost liturgical vocal style that meshes wonderfully with their doom drones. GRADE: B–.
See also Depressed Mode

Sharon People (UK): Inside Looking Out (Indigo IRS 5510, Ireland, 1974)
Joanie Margerison (joint lead vocals, organ)
This is usually described in dealer lists as folk/rock, but in reality it is a very strange lounge psychedelic set recalling some long-lost major label US exploitation effort from circa 1968. It’s an interesting LP for sure, although something of an acquired taste. GRADE: C+.
Sharon People & George Heathcote (UK): Freely Freely (Genesis 1, 1975)
Joanie Margerison (keyboards, backing vocals)
With the band backing lugubrious lounge crooner George Heathcote, this is essentially a straight MOR piece. However, the band’s unusual instrumental style, led by organ and trombone, again adds an ersatrz psychy vibe to the proceedings. GRADE: C–.
Sharon People (UK): That I May Dwell Among Them (Sharing SC001, 1975)
Joanie Margerison (joint lead vocals, organ, tambourine)
Once again an odd record, this is a concept album with narration from a pastor and musical backing blending elements of progressive and lounge music. Once again, there are some good psychedelic passages, but the disc is uneven and includes several very dull tracks.

See also Living Witness

Shat (USA): Shat (Van Dyke AW 14042, 1974?)
Bir Dee Fox (occasional vocals)
Seemingly issued as a tax loss project, this mostly consists of light seventies rock, with funky, bluesy and barroom edges. The playing is competent throughout, especially the drumming, but the songwriting is rudimentary to say the least and the male vocals are pretty amateurish. ‘This Neck That Neck’ is something else: an unexpected stab at progressive rock with lots of electronic effects, Eastern tinges from finger cymbals and a wordless vocal from Bir Dee Fox recalling Annie Haslam’s performance on ‘Prologue’. As is par for the course for the genre, the running time is pretty short, but this has a very attractive full colour sleeve that makes it look like a country/rock album. Although very rare, this is not particularly expensive. GRADE: C.

Sheep (USA): The Sheep (Myrrh Gold MYR 100, with insert, UK, 1973)
Lisa Carrothers (keyboards, backing vocals)
Like their first album Jeesus-Rock! (released only in Finland, under the name of Karitsat), this American band’s second LP was not released in their own country. Also like its predecessor, this features excellent guitar-driven rock on the first side but flags a little on the second (though the closing ‘Multitudes’ is among their best songs). Nonetheless, this is certainly one of the better Christian LPs of the seventies, with appealing stripped-down arrangements and some excellent hooklines. The song ‘Lonestome Stone’ was taken from the stage show and album of the same name, which featured heavy participation by Sheep. GRADE: C+.
See also Karitsat, Lonesome Stone

Shekina Glory (USA): Have You Considered? (Iowa Great Lakes Recording STLP - 33152, 1976)
Joanne Whipple (keyboards, backing vocals), Laurie Musilek (percussion, flute, backing vocals)
This is one of the rarest Christian private pressings, with a massive price tag to match, and a reputation as a classic of heavy progressive rock. Personally, I find it rather overrated: there are certainly some powerful riffs and guitar leads, good tempo changes and dramatic shifts of mood, but several cuts are simple folk/rock or boogie rock. Further, I don’t care for lead vocalist Russ Musilek, who has a rather mannered style and sometimes chooses to sing falsetto. With a different singer and fewer, longer tracks, this could have lived up to the hype: as it is, it’s solid and sometimes very good, but don’t expect Caedmon or even Whitsuntide Easter. GRADE: C+.

Shelder (France): God Of Vikings (No label DS 388205, 1988)
Corinne Hacquebey (lead vocals)

Housed in a striking bright pink sleeve and dedicated to the memory of Randy Rhoads, this French band’s sole album resembles a stripped-down, amateurish Black Sabbath. Sounding early seventies in every regard, it’s extremely unusual for both its era and country of origin and should please those enjoying retro-doom merchants such as Blood Ceremony. GRADE: C+.

Sheshet (Israel): Sheshet (CBS 82366, 1977)
Yehudith Ravitz (principal vocals, guitar, percussion)
This is an accomplished soft progressive album with flute-led arrangements and slight jazzy and folky diversions, with an even mix of songs and instrumental passages. Following the band’s break-up, Ravitz went solo and issued numerous successful albums in a mainstream pop/rock vein. GRADE: C+.
See also Yehudith Ravitz, Sixteenth Lamb

shEver (Switzerland): Ocean Of Illusions (No label SHEV001, CD, 2007)
Alexandra Häusler (principal vocals), Jessica Locher (occasional vocals, guitar), Nadine Lehtinen (occasional vocals, bass, violin), Melanie (drums)
Switzerland isn’t a country one would immediately associate with a doom metal band, much less one that’s all-female. However, shEver (as they rather oddly style themselves) are a fine example of the style, setting both death and clean vocals against sludgy backing, with violin and sound effects adding a gothic edge. The results won’t be for everyone, being relentlessly funereal, but this is an impressive debut by any standard. GRADE: B–.
shEver (Switzerland): A Dialogue With The Dimensions (Shever SHEV002, CD, 2009)
Alexandra Häusler (principal vocals), Jessica Locher (occasional vocals, guitar), Nadine Lehtinen (occasional vocals, bass), Melanie (drums)
Heavier and more dynamic than their first, this is a superb and uncompromising set of doomdeath metal. As with their debut, it may be too dark and too relentless to some ears, but to mine it’s genuinely wonderful stuff. GRADE: B–.
shEver (Switzerland): Rituals (Totalrust Music TRUST024, CD, Israel, 2012)
Alexandra Häusler (principal vocals), Jessica Locher (occasional vocals, guitar), Nadine Lehtinen (occasional vocals, bass), Sarah Sutter (drums)
This isn’t as exploratory as its predecessor, being fairly basic sludgy doomdeath, but it’s undeniable great sludgy doomdeath. GRADE: B–.

shEver (Switzerland): Panta Rhei (No label, CD, with minisleeve, 2015)
Alexandra Häusler (principal vocals), Jessica Locher (occasional vocals, guitar), Sarah Sutter (drums)
Identifying their best album isn’t easy, as they’re all something of a piece, but I think Panta Rhei edges it. Offering five lengthy slices of powerful, atmospheric doom, this covers most facets of their sound, ranging from the light and spacy to the crushingly heavy to the truly tripped-out – quite remarkable stuff.


See also Ashtar

Shide & Acorn (UK): Under The Tree (Solent SM 011, 1971)
Joy Perkis
This Isle of Wight-based band was previously known as Foehammer and Wight (under which name they gained a major label deal in France, issuing two singles) but did not record an album until the end of their career. This may account for its rather listless, world-weary mood, which gives it quite a distinctive sound. Consequently, it’s a bit short on energy and ambition, but it is wonderfully atmospheric and subtly trippy, with a somewhat lo-fi recording adding to the ambience. The disc was privately issued in a run of just 99 copies, making it one of the most expensive and sought-after British folk albums. GRADE: B–.
Shide & Acorn (UK): The Legend Of The Dreamstones (Kissing Spell/Erewhon KSCD 9310-F, CD, 1993, recorded 1969)
Joy Perkis, Leslie Sharman
Recorded in the band’s early days as Foehammer, this conceptual set features much heavier rock music than Under The Tree. Along the way there are some beautiful acoustic folk songs (a couple of which would later recur on the 1971 disc), making for a very varied and enjoyable album. As a footnote, some sources suggest that the original performance ran for around an hour, with about 20 minutes of material being culled for the CD release. GRADE: B–.
Shide & Acorn (UK): Princess Of The Island (Kissing Spell/Erewhon KSCD 9640-F, CD, 1995, recorded 1969-1970)
Joy Perkis (joint lead vocals, violin, recorder)
This third and final CD compiles the band’s two French singles – ‘Island’/‘Song Of The Celandine Fairy’ (Festival SPX 137) and ‘Come All You Travellers’/‘Pendragon’ (Festival SPX 147) – along with three outtakes from the same sessions and seven demos. It’s pleasant stuff, with the French recordings moving them in more of a folk/rock direction recalling Pentangle or What We Did On Our Holidays-era Fairport Convention, but overall this is slightly less memorable than their other two releases. GRADE: B–.

Shin-Chon Blues (South Korea): Shin-Chon Blues (Jigu JLS-1202159, with insert, 1988)
Han Youngae (occasional vocals), Seo-Yong Jeong (occasional vocals)
At its best, this slick, polished and often mellow blues/rock album achieves an impressive level of intensity, with some excellent guitar work. But as that description suggests, this may be too slick and polished and mellow who like their blues/rock raw and untutored, though it’s extremely accomplished. GRADE: C+.

Shin-Chon Blues (South Korea): Blues II (SRB VIP-20074, 1989)
Seo-Yong Jeong (joint lead vocals)
Like their debut, this is powerful, classy stuff – the band are equally adept at intricate acoustic blues and full-on electric rock with assertive and eloquent guitar leads. It’s remarkably varied too, even taking in a new wave-ish reggae-tinged number, and extremely well recorded. But also like their debut, it’s just a little too slick and lacking in personality to rate it any higher than a C+. GRADE: C+.

Shin-Chon Blues (South Korea): Live Album (SRB VIP-20087, with insert, 1989)
A live album for a band like Shin-Chon Blues could have been a revelation. Like many blues/rock outfits, they could have stretched out onstage, extending their songs with wild solos and jamming to take them places they’d never go in the studio. Except they don’t, so it isn’t. GRADE: C+.
Shin-Chon Blues (South Korea): Blues III (SRB VIP-20092, with insert, 1990)
As with their first two studio sets, this is beautifully performed, arranged and recorded, with excellent vocals and musicianship and a high level of taste. But it also wears its influences on its sleeve and doesn’t bring anything new to an overcrowded genre. The band continued with an all-male line-up, releasing a second live album (adequate but no better than the first) and a fourth and final studio album that outclassed anything they had released previously. GRADE: C+.

Shine Dión (Norway): Killandra (The Holly HCD 01, CD, 1998)
Janne Hansen (lead vocals)
This duo of a singer and a guitarist released one of the best acid-folk albums of the nineties; offhand, I can only think of Graal, Revolutionary Army Of The Infant Jesus and Wyld Olde Souls' releases as being better. Aided by a number of guests, including the veteran underground violinist Trond Villa, they deliver a beautiful selection of self-penned songs with a pretty yet melancholy atmosphere, with occasional electric guitar leads adding a welcome rock edge here and there. Like the other bands mentioned, they also achieve quite a distinctive sound, whilst paying a clear homage to the seventies heyday of psychedelic folk. In an inversion of the norm, the limited edition LP reissue (Black Widow BWR 030, with inner, Italy, 1999) contains two bonus tracks. GRADE: B.
Shine Dión (Norway): Wyn (The Holly HCD02, CD, 2002)
Janne Hansen (lead vocals)
Whilst recognisably the work of the same duo, this is much more rock-oriented than their debut, with bass and drums used on most tracks. It’s also less psychedelic, though it contains some moments of extreme beauty. By any standards, this is a fine folk album, but their first retains the edge for me. GRADE: B.

Shinkiro (Japan): Heart Of The Mind (No label 3443/3444, with booklet, 1976)
Yuri Ichida (joint lead vocals, guitar, harmonium, echo chamber)
This odd little album offers quirky DIY pop with a whimsical feel, lots of garage and psychedelic edges, and a few fifties influences. With plenty of fuzz guitar thrown in, it could be compared at a push to a folkier and less rock-oriented version of the first Sadistic Mika Band album, though this is more varied, creative and interesting. The whole thing is quirky, fragmented, fascinating and very, very Japanese. GRADE: C+.

Shit & Chanel (Denmark): Shit And Chanel (AbraCadabra Production ABC 2003, 1975)
Lis Sørenson (principal vocals, guitar), Ulla Tvede Eriksen (occasional vocals, drums, percussion), Anne Linnet (guitar, drums, saxophone),

Lone Poulsen (guitar, bass, synthesiser, flute), Astrid Elbeck (keyboards, percussion)
This all-female band are vaguely comparable to their American near-contemporaries Fanny, though their music is a bit folkier and to these ears a bit more accomplished. With decent songwriting and musicianship and a nice breezy mood, this is an enjoyable album but rather lacking in the X-factor that would have made it really special. GRADE: C+.

Shit & Chanel (Denmark): Shit And Chanel No 5 (AbraCadabra Production ABC 2006, with inner, 1977)
Anne Linnet (joint lead vocals, guitar, saxophone), Lis Sørenson (joint lead vocals, guitar), Lone Poulsen (guitar, bass), Astrid Elbeck (keyboards, percussion), Ulla Tvede Eriksen (drums, percussion, trumpet)
This is a bit slicker and funkier than their first, with more confident songwriting and catchier hooks – a really first-rate set of polished pop/rock. The title got them into considerable trouble with Chanel, and following legal action in 1981 the band started using the name ‘Shit & Chalou’ for all its reissues. GRADE: C+.
Shit & Chanel (Denmark): Tak For Sidst (Metronome MLP 15615, with inner and poster, 1978)
Anne Linnet (joint lead vocals, guitar, saxophone), Lis Sørensen (joint lead vocals, guitar), Lone Poulsen (guitar, bass), Astrid Elbeck (keyboards),

Ulla Tvede Eriksen (drums, percussion)
As with their first two, the music here is well-crafted, with hooks in all the right places, but their melodic soft rock is a little short on excitement. In fact, the best thing is the jazzy, proggy instrumental ‘Klovnen’, which closes side one, making one wish they had stretched out a bit more elsewhere. GRADE: C+.
Shit & Chanel (Denmark): Dagen Har Så Mange Farver (Metronome MLP 15649, 1979)
Anne Linnet (joint lead vocals, guitar, saxophone), Lis Sørensen (joint lead vocals, guitar), Lone Poulsen (guitar, bass), Astrid Elbeck (keyboards),

Ulla Tvede Eriksen (drums, backing vocals)
Their final album is a slight step up, offering some nicely slinky grooves with a sensual edge and nods to all kinds of American contemporaries. The band’s four albums were repackaged as 1974-1982 (Sony Music 88691947782, quintuple CD, with digibook, 2012) along with a fifth disc featuring 13 live cuts from 1979, two from 1975, and one from 1982. This material is actually better than the majority of their studio albums. GRADE: C+.

Shiva’s Headband (USA): Take Me To The Mountains (Capitol ST 538, 1970)
Susan Perskin (occasional vocals)
Mixing rootsy rock with a late fifties or early sixties feel, prominent country-ish fiddle and a definite hippie sensibility, Shiva’s Headband were a curious band indeed. At a push they could be compared to the Grateful Dead at their most laid-back yet most commercial, or to Jefferson Airplane noodling with Papa John Creach upfront – but overall they were their own oddball beast. Whilst the intense ‘Ebeneezer’ shows what they can achieve, most of this drifts by pleasantly without making any enormous impact. The CD version on Akarma is the one to seek out, as one of its bonus tracks, ‘Hi Love’, is a marvellous, ultra-long psychedelic jam that’s ten times better than anything on the album proper. GRADE: C–.
Shiva’s Headband (USA): Coming To A Head (Armadillo ASLP 001, 1971)
Susan Perskin (occasional vocals)
Issued on their own label, the band’s second LP is notably better than their first, whilst still recognisably the work of the same outfit. More obviously a product of its era, it ranges from beautiful baroque folk (‘Anyone’) to blues/rock (‘My Girlish Days’) to an African-influenced number (‘Baby What You Didn’t’). Most of it is boogie-rock and hoedowns in the style of their debut, however. GRADE: C.
Shiva’s Headband (USA): Psychedelic Yesterday (Ape 711 x 86, 1978)
Susan Perskin (organ, backing vocals)
This is their best album overall, dropping the country and pop leanings for a mellow set of West Coast rock grooves, with a garage edge and some pleasing guitar, violin and organ work. The disc opens with its least interesting cuts, but quickly finds its form to offer some strong numbers hinting at the Grateful Dead and its offshoots such as the Heart Of Gold Band. GRADE: C+.
Shiva’s Headband (USA): In The Primo Of Life (Moontower LP 1001, 1984)
Susan Perskin (occasional vocals, keyboards)
Their newfound interest in dub reggae is rather surprising, and it’s odd to hear this style set against banjo instrumentals and mainstream hippie-rock. Whilst a likeable album, this is also patchy and incoherent, sometimes resembling a compilation rather than a set from a single band. GRADE: C.

Shizuoka Rock ’N’ Roll Union (Japan): Eikyuhozon-Ban (Toyo DSL-001735, with insert, 1973)
One of the rarest Japanese private pressings, this consists of very louche and raw garage rock, usually with a bluesy edge and always with lashings of piercing acid guitar. Overall, their style could be compared to a mixture of first album Velvet Underground, the Rolling Stones at their punkiest and most elemental, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Overall it’s an exciting and powerful album, but regrettably almost impossible to find. GRADE: B–.

Shizuka (Japan): Shizuka (No label, cassette, 1992)
Shizuka Miura
This somewhat low-budget live set of guitar psychedelia has a lovely, sepulchral sound, though it's rather ponderous in parts. But when it does catch fire, it does so in no uncertain terms, containing some superb moments. As a footnote, the cassette is undated, so it's not clear whether its release preceded the Heavenly Persona album (though it was unquestionably recorded in 1992). GRADE: C+.

Shizuka (Japan): Heavenly Persona (PSF PSFD-52, CD, with obi, 1994)
Shizuka Miura (lead vocals, guitar, bells)
The onslaught of feedback that opens the album may strike some listeners as hellish rather than heavenly, but it certainly helps Ms Miura and her associates set their stall out early. The obvious reference point for this is the Velvet Underground – sometimes the more abrasive first two albums but more often the tranquility of their third – but refracted through a Japanese prism, with everything given a sepulchral, almost cathedral-like, ambience. Whilst obviously derivative, the results are frequently stunning. GRADE: B–.

Shizuka (Japan): Live Shizuka (Persona Non Grata PNG-1, CD, 1995)
Shizuka Miura (lead vocals, guitar)
Whilst still very Velvets-like, Ms Miura’s second live album focuses on the most experimental end of her repertoire – or should I say unfocuses? This is atmospheric stuff and is frequently excellent, but like the earlier cassette it rambles in parts, whereas the studio set was significantly more taut and disciplined. GRADE: C+.

Shizuka (Japan): Tokyo Underground ’95 (Last Visible Dog, CDR, 2000, recorded 1995)
Shizuka Miura (lead vocals, guitar)
This is more accomplished that previous Shizuka live albums, both in terms of the performances (more structured, less rambling) and the recording quality. It’s still virtually impossible for me to hear Shizuka without thinking of a certain influential sixties band with a looser, spacier Nippon edge, but there’s nothing wrong with mustic that’s clearly derivative when it’s clearly this good. GRADE: B–.
Shizuka (Japan): Live – Traditional Aesthetics (PSF PSFD-178, CD, 2008, recorded 1995)
Shizuka Miura (lead vocals, guitar)
Somewhat more diffuse than Tokyo Underground ’95, this showcases a slightly wilder aspect of Shizuka’s music. It’s still mostly impressive, both in terms of the music and the recording, and represents an excellent addition to her discography. GRADE: B–.

Shocking Blue (Holland): At Home (Pink Elephant PE 888 001, 1969)
Mariska Veres (lead vocals)
The band’s second album, and their first with powerful vocalist Mariska Veres, is a nice psychedelic pop effort with some sturdy rock arrangements and lots of sitar. It’s probably best remembered today for ‘Love Buzz’, later covered by Nirvana, but there are also two fine instrumentals (‘Acka Raga’ and the first half of ‘Poor Boy’). However, it’s notable that even at this stage in their career they were very much a singles band: there’s nothing here of the quality of contemporary 45s like their international hit ‘Venus’ or the truly stellar ‘Long And Lonesome Road’. GRADE: C+.
Shocking Blue (Holland): Scorpio’s Dance (Pink Elephant PE 877.002-G, 1970)
Mariska Veres (lead vocals)
Their third album (their very first had male vocals) is a bit short on great songs, but it’s pleasant enough pop/rock. There are three standouts: the title track is a two-part instrumental and a bit of a diversion for them, ‘I Love Voodoo Music’ is a lovely ballad with an unexpected percussion break in the middle, and ‘Water Boy’ is harder and more psychedelic, with some sitar. GRADE: C+.
Shocking Blue (Holland): Third Album (Pink Elephant PE 877.010-G, 1971)
Mariska Veres (principal vocals)
It’s actually their fourth, and it’s another enjoyable set of period pop/rock. The best cuts this time around include the melodic ‘Serenade’, the bluesy ‘Don’t You See?’ (complete with some excellent slide guitar work) and the catchy ‘Bird Of Paradise’. GRADE: C+.
Shocking Blue (Holland): Inkpot (Pink Elephant PE 877.018-G, 1972)
Mariska Veres (principal vocals)
They don’t bring much to the three cover versions, but this may be their best album overall, with some fine songs and some unusual instrumental textures setting heavy guitars (reflecting the growing popularity of glam) against banjo. As usual, there are a few psychedelic edges too, adding up to an effectively crunchy set of catchy pop/rock. GRADE: C+.
Shocking Blue (Holland): Live In Japan (Pink Elephant PE 888.014-Y, 1972)
Mariska Veres (lead vocals)
This live album features a good cross-section of material, including the inevitable ‘Venus’ (twice), ‘Long And Lonesome Road’, ‘Never Marry A Railroad Man’, ‘Mighty Joe’ et al. The performances are lively and dynamic, indicating that they must have been a thrilling live act, but inevitably their simple line-up (vocals, electric guitar, bass and drums) leads to a rather thin sound. GRADE: C+.
Shocking Blue (Holland): Attila (Pink Elephant PE 877.025-G, 1973)
Mariska Veres (principal vocals)
This has the same sound as their earlier work but far less interesting songwriting, resulting in a rather dull early seventies pop/rock set. GRADE: C.

Shocking Blue (Holland): Ham (Pink Elephant 877.038-G, 1973)
Mariska Veres (lead vocals)
Packaged in an almost autistically literal cover depicting some meat, Ham was Shocking Blue’s attempt to make a Southern-influenced LP recalling the music of JJ Cale. In reality, it’s not that different from their usual work, and as with all their albums is solid and listenable without being particularly memorable. For no obvious reason, their label withdrew the LP and insisted on the band reworking its contents into Dream On Dreamer. GRADE: C+.
Shocking Blue (Holland): Dream On Dreamer (Polydor 2459 317, 1973)
Mariska Veres (lead vocals)
Whilst there was nothing particularly wrong with Ham – and whilst this isn’t likely to figure among anyone’s all-time favourite albums – this is definitely the better set, not to mention a huge improvement over the underwhelming Attila.

Shocking Blue (Holland): Good Times (Pink Elephant PE 877.069, 1974)
Mariska Veres (principal vocals)
Recorded without leader, guitarist and principal songwriter Robbie van Leeuwen, Good Times is a surprisingly solid end to Shocking Blue’s career. Replacement Martin van Wijk is an excellent player and more than competent composer, and whilst the cover versions that make up half the album don’t equal his originals there is plenty to enjoy here. In particular, the title track is a simply wonderful pop song, equalling their early singles with its irresistible hooks. GRADE: C+.

Shoot The Butler (UK): Shoot The Butler (No label SB-001, 1985)
Tracy Prince (joint lead vocals)
I hoped that this private pressing, which features a striking and minimalist red-and-white sleeve and intriguing song titles like ‘I Married The Niece Of The Son Of Frankenstein’s Torturer (And Boy Don’t I Know It)’, ‘Data Run’ and ‘One Against The Legion’, might have some progressive leanings. No such luck. This is period electropop, occasionally with a few folky and rock edges but at other times recalling such unmentionables as Kajagoogoo and Spandau Ballet. GRADE: D.

Shrooms Circle (Switzerland): Drowning Cave/Little Puppet (Lathe Cut House, clear, green or blue vinyl, with signed print, poster, photo and postcards, UK, 2020)
Operating at the sludgier end of the doom market, Swiss outfit Shrooms Circle offer mutant, mangled riffs and vocals that sound like they were recorded in the world’s biggest echo chamber – or maybe in the pit of Hades. Whilst this isn’t my favourite style of doom – it’s the seventies-styled and more majestic stuff that really grabs me – this is certainly effectively eerie and desolate. GRADE: C+.

Shub Niggurath (France/UK): Shub Niggurath (No label, cassette, France, 1982)
Ann Stewart (lead vocals), Véronique Verdier (trombone)
The shrill, trebly, wavering sound quality of this cassette is nothing to write home about, but the music here is nothing short of remarkable. Shub Niggurath take the patented zeuhl sound of Magma and cross it with free-jazz and austere modern classical music; the results are odd, unsettling and eerie. The CD reissue as Introduction (Soleil Zeuhl 22, with gatefold minisleeve, 2009), in contrast, sounds excellent, but annoyingly makes slight edits to a couple of songs. GRADE: B.
Shub Niggurath (France/UK): Les Morts Vont Vite (Muséa FGBG 2002, France, 1986)
Ann Stewart (lead vocals), Véronique Verdier (trombone)
As experimental as its predecessor but much heavier and more rocking, this offers a stranger side-step from seventies live Magma, led by Jannick Top-style growling fuzz bass and thunderous drumming. Ann Stewart’s soprano vocals are edgier than those of Stella Vander, whilst Franck W Fromy offers both shards of spiky post-punk guitars and industrial-style clanging sheet metal to complete their implacably powerful sound. The results have rightly been acclaimed as an eighties avant-prog classic. GRADE: B.
Shub-Niggurath (France): Live (Auricle AMC 035, cassette, UK, 1989)
Sylvette Claudet (joint lead vocals), Véronique Verdier (percussion, trombone)
The live jams here, in varying sound quality, are ponderous in the extreme, but nonetheless there’s some fine music on offer. Whilst I wouldn’t listen to this in preference to their more crafted studio sets, this is certainly an interesting addition to their discography. GRADE: B–.
Shub-Niggurath (France): C’Étaient Des Très Grands Vents (Muséa FGBG 4042.AR, CD, 1991)
Sylvette Claudet (lead vocals), Véronique Verdier (trombone)
With their third studio album, Shub-Niggurath go off the deep end: this opens with a hum that gently fades in and ends part-way through a number. In between, they offer weird, varied, fragmented jams that draw on zeuhl and RIO, reference free-jazz and modern classical, and frequently have very little to do with any conventional notion of rock. It’s all fascinating, challenging and extremely weird. GRADE: B.
Shub-Niggurath (France): Shub-Niggurath (Gazul GA 8665.AR, CD, 2003, recorded 1992-1994)
Véronique Verdier (trombone)
This album (apparently titled Testament, although this doesn’t appear anywhere on the packaging) consists of pieces recorded towards the end of the band’s life, after it had shrunk down to an instrumental quartet. There are still elements of zeuhl here in the thunderous bass, but this is much closer to free-jazz, with some industrial edges. In fact, these improvisations sound as though they emanate from the Japanese underground rather than France, and whilst somewhat formless are certainly elementally powerful. GRADE: B–.
See also Apsara

Shusha (Iran): Persian Love Songs And Mystic Chants (Tangent TNGS 108, UK, 1971)
Shusha Guppy
Iranian-born Shusha Guppy’s debut lives up to its title: this is a collection of traditional Persian songs performed with sparse instrumental backing. With a formal and slightly sepulchral feel, the album is quite atmospheric and relaxing, although I imagine its appeal could be fairly selective. GRADE: C+.
Shusha (Iran): Song Of Long-Time Lovers (Tangent TGS 113, UK, 1972)
Shusha Guppy
Shusha’s second album features one self-penned song and a couple of traditional numbers, but otherwise consists entirely of covers (of Jagger/Richards, Leonard Cohen, Alasdair Clayre, Barbara and Jacques Brel). As the latter names make clear, she had a marked fondness for French singer/songwriters and this often sounds French more than British, with its well-judged acoustic and sometimes electric backing. Overall, this is a nice album, and far less austere than her debut. GRADE: C+.

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