1990 : SHACK – (NME, 11 AUG 1990)

Shack have been queuing up for some action for long enough, but tonight the wait is made a little longer.

Three songs into the set and John Head’s guitar limps to a halt. I Know You Well and Neighbours still sounded good, but the boys call a time out and bring on the roadie.

Ten minutes later and Shack are back on four cylinders and cruising to an accidently great start. The tension from the earlier technical fiasco is dispersed into a brimming burst of catharsis as the booming spirally bassline to I Know You Well pumps out for a second time. This band can’t be bothered signifying funkiness with baggy tops and spazz choreography, but the current single is all the groovier for it’s understatement. Shack up.

Brothers Mike and John pile onward with a 12-string guitar bash to give a chiming reminder of their skill in the trusty realm of traditional melodic songwriting. This talented pair could be bitter about their relative lack of recognition, but they remain coolly optimistic.

And who can blame them? Turning out songs like these must do a little bit for the soul. Al’s Vacation – which sorts out the Lennon print thug, Albert Goldman – and Time Machine are two more gems in a set that bursts with fresh gear, not to mention a new rhythm section in bassist Pete Wilkinson and drummer Alan Wills.
“Play a Farm medley,” shouts one of a particularly high incidence of professional Scousers. The best band in Liverpool hardly need this advice – the pop kids continue to wave their bobs and flares to guitar bands with melody and a danceable beat and Shack are better equipped here than almost all the contenders.

This band aren’t for turning on a Shack attack and aiming for success by tacking obvious dance peripherals, and if there’s any justice they won’t need to.

Come on God, 1990 must be a good year for Shack.


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Zilch (1988)
1. Emergency (listen)
2. Someone’s Knocking (listen)
3. John Kline (listen)
4. I Need You (listen)
5. Realization (listen)
6. High Rise Low Life (listen)
7. Who Killed Clayton Square? (listen)
8. Who’d Believe It? (listen)
9. What’s It Like… (listen)
10. The Believers (listen)