Reviewed November 2009
Forty One Sixty: The Songs of The Shambles
By various artists
Blindspot Records: 2009
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing The Shambles' Web site.
The Shambles are an interesting band. A San Diego mod revival combo that missed the local '80s mod revival by a good half-decade, their songs have nevertheless appeared on and been covered by different bands on all kinds of compilations from around the world but unless you're in a scooter club, you're unlikely to have heard them live in San Diego. They play relatively few shows, yet regularly show up in the annual San Diego Music Awards finalists' lists.
Lead singer Bart Mendoza deserves much of the credit for the band's far-reaching reputation a tireless promoter and born (if quiet) salesman, Mendoza is so utterly likable that it would be difficult to tell him no.
And he's not a half-bad songwriter, either add up his charisma and a nice collection of songs to choose from, and a new collection of covers of songs from The Shambles' catalogue makes good sense.
While most of the 22 covers are by fellow mod revivalists and give the collection the feeling of an outtake from an Austin Powers soundtrack, the more interesting tracks are those that step outside the mod mentality. San Diegan Marie Haddad's take on "Where You Are," for instance, is a beautifully haunting piano-driven ballad. And the contemporary psychedelia of The Truckee Brothers' reading of "The Waiting Game" fits in perfectly with the '60s ambience running throughout while also giving it a nice modern updating.
While it's not clear if these tracks were recorded specifically for this project or are assembled from existing recordings, it's still impressive that bands from Serbia, Denmark, Spain and England have covered songs from a band even most San Diego music fans have never heard or possibly even heard of.
Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).