Although revisionist historians will claim that any Shadows of Knight best-of that includes “Gloria” will cover just about everything you’ll ever need on this Chicago punk band (and usually acting as if Van Morrison’s and Them’s original was the actual hit — wrong), true believers have long championed their two original albums for the Dunwich label, especially their debut long-player named after their big hit. Why? Simply because it positively rocks with a raw energy of a band straight out of the teen clubs, playing with a total abandon and an energy level that seems to explode out of the speakers. Equal parts Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, Who, and snotty little Chicago-suburb bad boys, the Shadows of Knight could easily put the torch to Chess blues classics, which make up the majority of the songs included here. Their wild takes on “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” “Oh Yeah,” and “I Got My Mojo Working” rank right up there with any British Invasion band’s version from the same time period. Original material was never plentiful on either SOK long-player, but worth checking out are “Light Bulb Blues,” the blues ballad “Dark Side,” and the why-me? rocker “It Always Happens That Way.” Completing the package is the inclusion of three bonus tracks, the single-only “Someone Like Me” and an alternate version, and “I Got My Mojo Working,” which is vastly superior to the take on the original album. A not-too-vastly-different alternate mix of “Oh Yeah” completes the bonus tracks, although the original album version is curiously missing from this otherwise excellent package. Nonetheless, a reissue well worth adding to the collection. If you’re only going to own one Shadows of Knight package, you could, and should, start right here.
The original LP version of BACK DOOR MEN, the second by the legendary white Chicago garage punk/blues outfit, was one of the most sought-after artifacts of mid-’60s punk rock. Back Door Men was a loud, feedback-laden, sneering piece of rock & roll defiance, mixing raunchy anthems to teenage lust (“Gospel Zone,” “Bad Little Woman”), covers of Chicago blues classics (Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful,” Jimmy Reed’s “Peepin’ and Hidin'”), raga rock (“The Behemoth”), folk-rock (“Hey Joe,” “Three for Love,” “I’ll Make You Sorry”), and a blues-punk grab off of commercial Top 40 (“Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day”) all on one 12″ platter. What makes the record even more startling is that every one of these tracks, however far afield they go from one another, works. The band strides across the music spectrum with a reach and boldness that most listeners usually only associate with the likes of the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, and a grasp that, for a moment here, may have exceeded either of those groups, as they slide from electric guitar into extended Chess-style blues instrumentals (“New York Bullseye”).
-Cub Koda, Bruce Eder, allmusic.com