The Shy Limbs - Reputation/Love

The Shy Limbs

Released 1969 on CBS
Reviewed by Dave Furgess, 28/03/2007ce

Procol Harum's 1967 mega-hit "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" was a massively influential record to many of England's underground groups and even a few American groups such as SRC. Their sort of doomy, double keyboard sound could be traced back to Bob Dylan's "Blonde On Blonde" and early recordings by The Band, yet it was transformed in the hands of the UK psychedelic groups.

The Shy Limbs were no doubt influenced by Procol Harum as well as the organ driven groups of England such as The Small Faces, Zombies and "Up The Junction" era Manfred Mann. Their sound was also right in step with the first recordings by King Crimson. In fact Crimson's Greg Lake was a member of The Shy Limbs and appears as the lead singer on "Love" which is the B-side of this record (Lake also spent time with The Gods and The Shames prior to King Crimson.)

The personnel on this record appears to be John Dickenson-guitar, keyboards and vocals, Greg Lake-bass guitar, vocals and Andrew McCulloch on drums. The Shy Limbs issued just 2 singles then called it a day as the public was not buying into their sound in great numbers (or any numbers for that matter.) However they did manage to get a German release to this record (which the above artwork displays.)

"Reputation" is a wonderful slice of psychedelia that first turned up for re-evaluation on volume one of the legendary UK sampler "The Perfumed Garden." Everything about the song is first rate, the driving organ sound resembles both Traffic and Procol Harum. The song goes through a myriad of changes in it's 3 plus minutes, the vocals and melody are excellent, while the guitarist plays with the same bite as Procol's Robin Trower. The whole piece ends in a psychedelic stew of panning and phasing. This is a very inventive and well performed song that deserved to hit big, yet perhaps it's many shifts and changes made it too difficult for average top 40 fans.

The flipside "Love" is also fantastic, and probably should have been promoted as the A side. This song has everything, the harmonica intro reminds me of The Beatles "I Should Have Known Better" and the lead guitarist plays soaring,acid fueled leads that really drive the song. Greg Lake takes lead vocals and also provides that treble laden Chris Squire bass sound. I once saw this song described as disappointing in a book on UK psychedelia, this is simply not the case, "Love" is a winner from the word go.

The Shy Limbs issued one further 45 in 1969 that coupled "Lady In Black" with "Trick Or Two" (CBS UK 1969.) Sadly I have not heard either side of this disc. It appears Greg Lake jumped straight into King Crimson from The Shy Limbs, and probably never looked back. "Reputation" can still be found on a couple of compilations, it is certainly worth the effort to get to hear this outstanding double-sider.

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