NEW TORPEDOES / SHY Dingwalls, London JUSTINE COLE
FAVOURABLE REPORTS of Shy have abounded in these pages recently and that, coupled with the fact that tracks from their debut album ‘Once Bitten . , . Twice Shy’ have absolutely breathed class all over Radio One’s Friday night airwaves, meant that it seemed sensible to hoof it down to Dingwalls and give these guys the once over . . . I’m glad I did because, believe me, Shy deserve every inch of column space they’ve earnt themselves, and a lot more besides. Their greatest strength lies in their economical, yet oddly lavish, songs which are shot through with a pop sensibility that the boys can get their teeth into and the little girls will love. Moreover, they play with the kind of verve that everyone can get off on.
Not that Shy were faultless, mind (though they came pretty damn close for a band with so little real experience/. Big great boo-boo of the night had to be their cover of Foreigner’s ‘Nightlife’, which smacked of being a crowd pleasing cop-out that only detracted from the strength of their own emerging identity.
In Tony Mills, Shy have got a hugely promising vocalist who, whilst not (at the moment/ having the charisma and professional stagecraft of bill-topping Phil Lewis, still succeeded in pulling off live that which many other vocalists can only create within the confines of the studio. Given time to develop, bath he and the band as a whole are onto a good thing which can only get better.
KERRANG! ISSUE 79 October 1984
BEST OF BRITISH – SHY
I‘VE NEVER been one to deny talent when I’ve spotted it, but I’m forced
to admit that on a few occasions I’ve had to gag my personal feelings in order to cover Shy with coatings of praise. The harsh reality of the situation was that, whilst Shy’s music was unnaturally sophisticated and captivating for a bunch of Brummies who weren’t even all out of their teens, the band’s attitude was hard to stomach.
The arrogance of certain Shy members really was difficult to take. After all, who did these guys think they were? Just because they’d released an enjoyable album! In the sphere of human achievement, that hardly ranks alongside the discovery of penicillin or the Space Shuffle, now does it?
Matters actually came to a nasty black head when Shy opened for Magnum in their native Birmingham – and acted like the most arrogant upstarts you could imagine. Ouch, it hurt, let me tell you, and my enjoyment of the band’s supremely sophisticated rock ‘n’ roll was severly impaired.
Then came the news I’d been expecting; the revelation that Shy had signed a major deal, with RCA as it ‘appens, and that I would soon be face to face with the snotty brats for an interview once more. Nurse, the sick bucket. But. . . but. . . BUT, quel surprise, mes cheres, what a difference a few months make!
THE SHY of today is a vastly different entity to the one which I had harangued so severely. These days, they have the whole situation far more in hand, have calmed down, begun to realise the work that other people have done for them and actually become pretty decent blokes!
“It all went to our heads a bit,” admits vocalist Tony Mills. “We just weren’t ready for the attention we were getting. I remember getting really annoyed with you over that live review when you called us arrogant, but our new management called us into the office and explained the points made. Slowly, we began to realise that we weren’t as good as we thought we were. As soon as we grasped that fact I think we became a lot more mature – and a lot better as a band!”
Indeed so! The first song that the band have produced as a taster for RCA of the talent they now have on their hands is monstrously impressive. Titled ‘Caught In The Act Of Love’, ft is six minutes of Journey-orientated balladic bliss.
Mills really is a quite astonishingly talented vocalist, hitting notes that make me hurt in the nether regions – and he has the perfect foil in flashy axeman Steve Harris! For a guy who has yet to wave bye-bye to the teens, he’s amazingly accomplished in his playing, being thoughtful, rocking and stylish. RCA can’t believe their luck, I should guess.
“We signed with them for two reasons really,” states Mills “Firstly, because they don’t have another act on their roster that’s similar to us, and secondly because we felt they could make the most headway with the commercial sound that we’ve got.”
Ah yes, the Shy sound. Is it designed specifically for the American market?
“Well, I guess we’d be lying if we said that we didn’t have half an eye slanted towards the States, but we certainly wont just go over there and become in effect another US band!’
Harris is adamant on this point.
“Our deal is essentially a British one; the album will be promoted here extensively and we want to tour here as much as possible ,too. We’d really like to make it here”
To this effect, Shy decided not to follow fellow Brum rockers Tobruk’s example and opt to record in the States. Instead, the band’s next album will be done in the UK, with odds-on favourite studio at the moment being Chipping Norton, where ‘Caught In The Act Of Love’ was laid down with producer Ritchie Gold.
AS FAR as producers go, Gold is being considered.
(“We’ve got to try him on the heavier stuff yet”) and John Ryan is also a distinct possibility, though rumour has it that Robin George wasn’t too satisfied with his efforts on his soon-come album! Whatever the final choice, however, it’s all a long way from the days of Millsian greasepaint and independent Ebony Records…
“It doesn’t seem like things have happened in a matter of months,” laughs Mills. “More like a matter of days. We did have some trouble getting out of our Ebony contract, but we found some good lawyers who negotiated on our behalf.”
Confident about the disc, they are, too…
“Oh, we’ve got some great songs,” states Harris. “Stuff that’s perhaps a little more rocky than what we’ve done before. I mean, we’re never gonna be Def Leppard or Iron Maiden, but we’re gonna make sure we never become Fleetwood Mac. We’ll always be a rock band at heart!”
Not that Shy need make any apologies for their approach, cos if there’s any justice in this business the boys will go far. Casualties, however, are inevitable.. . Keyboardist Paddy McKenna and drummer Alan Kelly still sport Shy colours certainly, but bassist Mark Badrick has now been shown the door to be replaced by former Trouble man Roy Davis. Tough business, this rock ‘n’ roll! Let’s hope that Shy are fighters! I think they might be.
SHY – Marquee, London
SHY ARE a great band – I know cos I’ve got the albums, read the reviews, seen the show. . . So why aren’t I bopping down the front like as Shy storm
Soho’s infamous sauna? Good question.
Delighting in the melodious raunch of ‘Brave The Storm’ and the altogether more excellent ‘Excess All Areas’ for some time now, I’d thought it rather curious when RCA dropped their potential golden boys with nary a second glance. On the evidence of this showing l am not so surprised.
Jokes within the band are fine, but not immediately after taking to the stage. Tony Mills’ shambolic display of gonzoid greetings to guitarist Steve Harris left his comrades hanging around like callers on hold until he finally decided to lead them into opener ‘Telephone’. Throughout the show (which, incidentally, was rather short ‘n’ sweet at little more than an hour including encores) he gave the impression of simply trying too hard – pitching (ouch!) himself over the edge with a continuous barrage of ear-piercing shrieks and wails.
Earache aside, there were some good moments. ‘Young Hearts’ skipped along nicely on the back of Steve’s light-fingered guitarwork; for a ‘shy’ boy he cut quite a histrionic dash. And ‘If You Want It’ exhibited real potential as a crowd participation number via a classic stomp-a-long-a Tony chorus.
What interested me most though was the crowd’s reaction to the five guys onstage. Never before have I seen a Marquee audience so neatly divided in two – those on my right loving every second, those on my left standing mute and apparently unimpressed. Very strange. It has to be said that those on the right were enjoying themselves to the full – singing along to the chorus of ‘Breakdown’ as if they might never hear it again. But crowd reaction is as important to A&R men as Cliff Richard is to the average Shy fan.
Until they consistently play live with the same class as they exhibit on record, this far from bashful black country quintet will never be more than a ‘good’ band aspiring to greatness.
METAL FORCES ISSUE 37 MARCH 1989
SHY – The Hippodrome, London
I was pretty excited about this gig beforehand: SHY’s final British date before they crossed the pond, certainly sounded good on paper. But, well… Vocalist Tony Mills has got a problem, namely his ego. Musically the gig was great (apart from sampled backing vocals overkill that is!) it was just Mills’ attitude to the crowd that ruined it for me.
SHY aren’t massive, they could be, but they will have to learn to make allowances for a Nightclub crowd that came to stare – not sing, chat – not clap, and pose – not participate. Quite a number of the crowd were enjoying the show too, which featured material past, present, and future – if you see what I mean!
After opening with the equally strong “Emergency” and “Can’t Fight The Night” both off their “Access All Areas” album Mills introduced a new song “Burnin’ Up” which, with a pounding rhythm shows that (in the studio at least) this band have an awful lot to offer. This was confirmed with another new song “Make My Day” which emphasised their versatility when played back to back with that excellent ballad “When The Love Is Over”.
The sound was erratic I would say, with the vocals sometimes disappearing and virtually no sign of Steve Harris’ guitar at all. “Devil Woman” closed the set to probably the best reaction of the one hour set.
Encoring in a rather off-hand manner with “Telephone” and “Break Down The Walls” SHY left me dissatisfied with their ability to work a crowd that were showing anything but total adoration for them.
Good luck in the States – you’ve got the songs, but have you got the rest?