Aug 04

THE SHADOWS – “Kon-Tiki”

Popular16 comments • 2,347 views

#126, 7th October 1961

The title hints at exotica, and The Shadows’ instrumental fantasies are escapism of a kind, but the Kon-Tiki expedition wasn’t celebrating the mysteries of the Other, just solving them. Thor Heyerdahl’s exploits would have been familiar to the Shadows from childhood – they were the right age to have been caught up in the Thormania of the early 50s – but what did Kon-Tiki stand for? Endeavour, drive, heroics, curiosity, clean-limbed struggle, a deep respect for simplicity. It’s an apt title for one of the band’s more straightforward and bracing hits – listen to that echo and twang and breathe in the salt Pacific air!



  1. 1

    Knut Haugland is still alive! He is 92.

  2. 2
    Erithian on 14 Jan 2010 #

    At least he was until last Christmas :(

  3. 3
    richard thompson on 11 Aug 2011 #

    This got to No 6 in the NME chart

  4. 4
    Patrick Mexico on 26 Nov 2013 #

    Probably the most 6/10 song ever recorded. It’s very evocative though – I’m thinking right now of Hollywood tragedy.. actually, pretty swaying hula girls and Don Draper having his 12th mid-life crisis in a decade.

  5. 5
    lonepilgrim on 18 Jun 2014 #

    I find it hard to warm to the Shadows – they may have sounded thrillingly modern at the time but they just sound too polite for my tastes

  6. 6
    Tommy Mack on 19 Jun 2014 #

    I’m always amazed how tame their records sound. In my head they’re much more Pixies-like: wrangling surf guitar and tribal tom-toms. I’d say their best sounding records are the most production heavy: Apache, Wonderful Land, Diamonds (not technically a Shads record, I know)

    The Beatles always sound more garagey in my head too, I’m always surprised how sedate and clean something like, say, Day Tripper, actually is.

  7. 7
    wichitalineman on 19 Jun 2014 #

    The curse of the white-coated Abbey Road staff! No meters going into the red until Revolver in ’66. That explains the cleanness of the Shadows sound compared to, say, Joe Meek’s effects + distortion-heavy records with the Moontrekkers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8oBFIwB5rA&feature=kp

    Tom’s review is spot on. But my fave Shadows 45s have a hint of yearning (Wonderful Land, Theme For Young Lovers, Atlantis) or menace (Apache, FBI, The Warlord).

  8. 8
    tm on 19 Jun 2014 #

    Yearning or menace is definitely on the money.

  9. 9
    Mark G on 20 Jun 2014 #

    I always loved the “Stingray” single, one of the first I owned (was disappointed at first it wasn’t the tv theme tune) which certainly has a dirty / overridden sound. I believe the shads themselves hate it. Daft buggers. The b-side “Alice in Sunderland”) also is great, quite droney in places.

    There’s probably a fantastic compilation to be made from these sorts of deep-cuts, but there’s too much polite cover version-ness to plough through..

  10. 10
    wichitalineman on 21 Jun 2014 #

    “There’s probably a fantastic compilation to be made from these sorts of deep-cuts, but there’s too much polite cover version-ness to plough through..”

    Nah. Stingray’s not even a ‘deep cut’ – top 20 hit! So many great Shads songs, and 20 Golden Greats is the place to start.

  11. 11
    mark g on 21 Jun 2014 #

    Point taken, and I do have the “every single” 4cd set, but you won’t find Stingray played on oldies radio.. Or “Scotch on his socks” or whatever it’s called.. I do have a few original albums (The debut, Jackpot, Christmas present, etc) but it’s that mid sixties era where they were trying to keep up that has some interest for me..

  12. 12
    wichitalineman on 21 Jun 2014 #

    Oh, right! I think they generally liked to stay quite comfortable on their albums, and tried to push forward (as with Stingray) on their singles. So you’ll probably find them disappointing. Hank’s solo 45s Goodnight Dick and Sunday For Seven Days are both deft and heavy. The Shadows’ version of My Babe from the Shades Of Rock album is bizarre, with some nice backwards stuff. One of their best vocals is My Way (from Finders Keepers), which would be a £200 single if it was by The Camomile Lawnmower:

  13. 13
    Mark G on 22 Jun 2014 #

    Oh good, that’s two albums I do own, and will track down those Hank singles at some point. Now to watch “I dream of Jeannie”, an episode I have saved already. Apparently she gets to have a Mod Party. What that means in the US in 1967 or thereabouts, I really have no idea..

  14. 14
    wichitalineman on 23 Sep 2014 #

    Re 3: a pedant notes, this was a #3 on the NME chart.

  15. 15
    Mark G on 19 Jun 2018 #

    #9 – Called it!

  16. 16
    Gareth Parker on 8 Jun 2021 #

    Another nice Shadows track for me. 7/10 here.

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