We continue reviewing the Seven and The Ragged Tiger album today with Shadows on Your Side. This week is Rhonda’s week to review, followed by Amanda’s review of the same song next week.
Musicality/Instrumentation: I like the quick drum intro to this song because it’s just different….it’s just a two beat pick-up, but it works. What immediately strikes me about the instrumentation as recorded is that it’s very top-heavy with very little noticeable bass to support. Yet, if you really listen – the bass is there in the mix, down very deep, and it’s a groovy bass line besides. Not at all boring, the bass work sounds intricate, with John’s hallmark playing. Once the song gets to the chorus, there are very noticeable guitar riffs that keep the structural integrity of the song, but adds just a touch of grit to what could end up being a very glossy song otherwise – the guitar gives just the right amount of texture to keep it interesting. It’s the ying/yang effect between Simon’s voice and Andy’s guitar…which works really well. The song is upbeat, and keeps that driving beat throughout. If you know what you’re looking for, you can hear a rhythm guitar during the chorus as well, which just goes to show that in this band, a versatile guitarist is not only needed – it’s an integral part of the recipe. I especially like the bridge where you can very much hear Andy and Nick playing off of one another – giving the song their best. No friction there, simply playing melody and background together, and it’s beautiful.
Vocals: I find myself wondering what I can really say about Simon’s vocals here. They’re good and strong. He has emotion without overdoing it, and I do love the way he quietly sings “Shadows on your side” in a deeper part of his range here. I really can’t find anything wrong – it’s Simon singing the way that Simon does best.
Lyrics: I don’t think I ever stopped to consider what these lyrics meant until today. That really is no testament to the quality of the lyrics themselves as much as it is a statement of my own lack of attention to detail on this one. No matter, as I listen today, I find a similar element in this song as I do to other songs on this album. Simon sings “Shackled and raised for a shining crowd, they want you to speak but the music is louder than all of their roar, with the heat of the planet’s core…” Those words seem to indicate that things looked a whole lot better from the crowd than they might have felt from the stage back then. I almost imagine Simon as a puppet during the shows – doing his job, singing the lyrics, entertaining the crowd but almost wishing he were anywhere else at the time. The relief comes at night, when he is whisked away from the crowd to someone waiting – someone or something in the shadows, hiding from prying eyes. Maybe it’s not even that there’s someone there for him, it’s that he can retreat back into where he’s most comfortable, away from the public. It almost seems as though references are made to the discomforts of fame throughout the entire album in various lines of lyric – something I’d never really picked up on before. The next verse continues with “Promises made with a distant friend, truth should be known it can only bend to a tune of its own, hey you’ll never hear that voice again.” I find these lines to be really interesting. Is this a comment to the “friends” Simon has made along the way? The girls he’s met after shows? Someone else entirely? Hard to say, but very intriguing. Everyone has a safe-place. Somewhere they go when they need to get away or hide. “With everybody to say that you’re having the time of your life, when your life is on the slide.” Well then. Doesn’t everything always look better from the outside than from within?
Overall: This is an easy song to overlook on this album – it was on the B side (oh, remember the days of B sides?!?), it wasn’t a single, and as such it probably was never one of the most mentioned. What strikes me most is that individually – the elements of the song are very good, and they work well together. However, due to what I would blame as a poor mix – I feel as though a lot of the impact is lost or at the very least, difficult to hear. This is not only something found in Duran’s music of the time, but is also a defining element of the period, and it is what truly “dates” some of this music because it is not well-balanced.
Cocktail Rating: 3 Cocktails!