It began as a lad’s joke – one of the band saw a girl he fancied, “she gives me quivers in me membranes” he would tell the rest. It began as a riff and a baseline jabbed out in thirty minutes. It began as a B-Side. The marvel of pop (and the reason a biographical approach seems so lacking sometimes) is how circumstances as drab as these produce wonders.
“Shaking All Over”‘s first seconds announce it as something special. A lash of electric guitar carves an arc in the silence; as it ends a prowling bassline begins. This music has charge and real threat: the marvel lies in how that charge affects the singer. In a sense “Shaking All Over” is a premonition of the Stones – English boys turned wild by rock. But Mick Jagger sang as a predator, focusing and using his lust: Johnny Kidd feels the same energies but he can’t control them. He sounds haunted as well as hungry, stricken by desire, body in disobedient spasm.
There has been nothing like this at No.1 before; certainly nothing British. Close to perfect, its only great flaw is the showy drum roll and solo that rounds it out, effectively dissipating the spooked energy “Shaking All Over” has built.