Shotgun Express – Bardens, Marsden and Stewart
The track I bring you today is one of those records that I thought I’d never put my hands on.
I probably heard the Shotgun Express for the first time about 30 years ago, during the Mod/garage days, when it was passed to me on a tape (remember those) by my man Mr Luther.
The group was of interest for two reasons, the first being that their debut 45 included two very groovy songs (one of them a swinging Hammond instro), and second, that it was an early home for none other than Rod Stewart.
Despite his reemergence these days as a a leathery crooner, warbling reworked standards for arenas full of old ladies, Rod the Mod was once the possessor of one of the truly great blue-eyed soul voices, which he put to work fronting the Jeff Beck Group and the Faces.
His short tenure with the Shotgun Express, the reconfigured version of Peter B’s Looners (Peter Bardens group which then featured a pre-Mac Mick Fleetwood and Peter Green) with Rod and Beryl Marsden on vocals, lasted less than a year.
The vocal side of their first 45, ‘I Could Feel the Whole World Turn Round’, written by Tony Colton and Ray Smith (who also penned Zoot Money’s ‘Big Time Operator’, and would later play in Head, Hands and Feet) is a great slice of mid-60s mod soul.
Sung in tandem by Stewart and Marsden, and featuring the pumping Hammond of Bardens, the song also features a lush string arrangement.
History seems to indicate that the band’s constituency, used to a diet of harder-edged soul reacted negatively to this stylish number, but even if that was true, it’s hard to understand why it wasn’t a hit.
I hope you dig it, and keep your eyes/ears peeled for the flipside, coming soon over at Funky16Corners.