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Various Artists

Bear Family Presents: The Shadow Knows More - 35 Scary Tales From The Vaults Of Horror

Review by Gary Hill

This collection of old music with spooky concepts is a class act. Then again, everything from Bear Family Records is class. I got this too late to make the October issue, but for me any time is right for Spooky stuff. Don't expect this to be really spooky, though. It's more set in a playful novelty zone. There are some real highlights here, but pretty much everything is good quality. Two songs should be of special interest to fans of Frank Zappa as they include him from the days before he was well-known. I should mention that I reviewed one of the songs on this CD on another collection in this issue. The track review here is modified from that one for the sake of consistency.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 1. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
David Carroll & His Orchestra - Hell’s Bells
Coming in with some freaky sounding music, this instrumental piece works out to a playful kind of jam that has plenty of jazz and even some rock and roll in the mix. There is a classical music edge to it, too.
Daddy Cleanhead & The Chuck Higgins Band - Something’s Goin’ On In My Room
Old school rock and roll and jazz merge on this killer tune.
Kenny Owens - Frog Man Hop
I love the energetic and hopping rock and roll sound on this thing. It's just a fun romp.    
Bert Convy - The Gorilla
This kind of song might be called a "novelty record," but the rock and roll meets jazz vibe and theatrics work well. It's a fun tune that holds up pretty well as a song despite the novelty aspect.
Billy Duke & His Dukes - Roland
Another with a lot of energy and groove. The mix of jazz and rock and roll is similar to the other songs we've heard. This is really more of a real song versus a novelty record. It manages to name check a lot of the classic monsters.
Carlos Casal Jr. - Don’t Meet Mr. Frankenstein
Weird voices and sound effects start this cut and hold it for a while. A rock and roll groove emerges from there with a lot of rockabilly in it. This is fun, but not up to the level of some of the others here.
Bob McFadden & Dor with The 7 Spirits - Frankie And Igor At A Rock and Roll Party
The vocals on this are spoken in character, with one of them channeling Boris Karloff. It's a funny groove that definitely lands as novelty song.
Sonny Richard's 'Panics' w. Cindy & Misty - The Voodoo Walk
The intro is mostly a voice with some strange sounds in the backdrop. The cut grooves out into a cool jazzy blues romp. This is an entertaining song. I dig the guitar soloing on it.     
Ted Heath & His Music - The Creep
A jazz instrumental, this is a cool old-school jam. While it doesn't feel spooky, there is a sense of creeping around.
Vampire Circus Movie Trailer
This is just what it says, a trailer for a movie. It has music and sound effects with a voice over.
Putney Dandridge & His Orchestra - The Skeleton In The Closet
Old fashioned jazzy concepts are on display on this tune.
Jackie Brooks - The Raven
A theatrical swinging number, this has plenty of jazz and blues in the mix. It's a classy groove that works really well. I love the saxophone solo on the piece.
Freddy Countryman -The Raven
There is a real surf guitar vibe that works well on this instrumental tune. It has some cool twists and turns along the road and is a classy piece.
Duane Turley with The Tads - Devil’s Den
Rockabilly is the idea here. It has some nice hints of spooky at times, but overall is pretty straightforward old-time rock music.
Bill Buchanan - Beware!
A bouncy sort of groove makes up the music to this jazzy cut. The lead vocals are spoken with Bela Lugosi type of accent. Female sung vocals make up the backing in parts of the tune.
Alma Cogan - Mystery Street
A mellow and balladic cut, this has a musical theater vibe. It's not one of my favorites here for certain, but it's okay.
Jan August - The Naughty Ghost
Silly and fun, this is a bouncy kind of track. The keyboards on it bring a playful approach.
Somethin’ Smith & The Redheads - When All The Streets Are Dark
OId-time jazzy sounds are the concept here. There are definitely some Dixieland elements in the musical arrangement, but the vocals seem more like a barbershop quartet. It's a very old-fashioned style piece.
Dean Martin - Ghost Riders In The Sky
Dean Martin's vocals really sell this song. The tune has a pretty standard jazz pop arrangement in terms of the instrumentation.
Salty Holmes - The Ghost Song
With weird effects at the start, this works out to a bouncy kind of jazzy groove. Some of the vocals are distorted and distant. The cut is fun. It's also very theatrical.
Gin Gillette - Train To Satanville
With jazz and rock and roll in the mix, there is a weird angle to this cut that makes it intriguing. The recording of the song seems to have some serious issues, though. While I find this song interesting, it's hard to listen to.
Baker Knight - Theme From ‘The Devil’s Hand'
This powerhouse instrumental seems to merge rock and roll and jazz. I love the piano soloing on the tune, and the whole thing just grooves with a lot of style. It's one of the highlights here.
Baron Daemon & The Vampires - Ghost Guitars
With some Dracula styled spoken bits on display, this is a tasty surf guitar number.
Duane Eddy - Twistin’ Off A Cliff
A cool echoey groove is on display here. It is mostly an instrumental, but there are quite a few non-lyrical vocals along with some screaming and spoken vocals. The flute is a nice touch.   
Bob Guy (& Frank Zappa) - Dear Jeepers
There are spoken vocals on this along with some sound effects and music in the background. This is a fun little novelty tune.
Bob Guy (& Frank Zappa) - Letter From Jeepers
As you might guess, this is a sequel to the previous tune. It feels very much like that cut.
Bracey Everett - The Lover’s Curse
More of an old-school rock and roller, this is solid. 
Jim Burgett - Split Personality (Jekyll And Hyde)
This is old school rock and roll that's quite strong. I wouldn't consider it a standout, but it's darned good.
The Crossfires - Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde
This instrumental (it does have some screaming) is suitably split in terms of personality. Part of it has a melodic, mainstream feel, while parts are crazed and frantic.
Los Gibson Boys - El Vampiro
This instrumental features some killer sounds. The guitar really drives it, but ignoring the bass work would be a mistake. Then there is the piano solo.
Louis Armstrong & Gordon Jenkins & His Orchestra - Spooks!
You can't argue with the magic of Mr. Armstrong. This is a classy tune that is just what you'd expect from the master, with a bit of spooky sound added to the mix. This is one of the best songs here.
The Champs - Experiment In Terror
This cool rocking instrumental has a great groove and is all class.   
The Sherwoods - Tickler
A surf guitar based instrumental, this is another potent tune. It has some crazed laughing and hollering at times, and is another highlight of the set.
Paul Peek - The Shadows Knows
Another fun rock and roller, this is one of the classier tunes here. I really love the backing vocals.     
The Shadow Knows - Radio Intro To ‘Detective Story Hour
This is exactly what it says it is, and the thing most people immediately think of when they hear "The Shadow knows."

 

 
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