Shakn’ All Over

Developed from the realisation that, like most of us, he knew very little his family’s history, Shakin’ Stevens’s latest album, Echoes Of Our Time is a personal collection revealing powerful lyrics from his past.

Mike Proud chatted with the 80s heart throb ahead of his newest tour which heads to Carlisle in April.

A regular visitor to the Lakes over the years, Shaky’s Cumbrian connections runs deeper than just travelling and touring.  After researching his family tree he discovered that his grandfather moved the family to Coniston to work in the Copper Mines following the closure of the Cornish mines.

Shaky said: “The research for the family history started long before the album was conceived and when we finally went into the studio the idea was always to go down the rootsy feel that the album possesses.”

Inspired by his family’s ancestry, Echoes of our Times is Shaky’s 12th studio album and comes 11 years after his last album, He said: “People have reacted very well to it. I changed the style in which we played one of my older hits to give it a more stripped back feel and they said that they liked the original but they much preferred my updated version. It’s nice to move on. You have to move on in your career and until now I haven’t had the opportunity as my image was so strong and it’s hard to hide from that, but this album has helped me to break through. The denims and boots have been left well behind.”

Changing up his style following a career which spans almost 50 years, Shaky said: “You have to move on, you can’t keep on wearing a pink jacket, and you’ve got to move forward. There are artists that have moved on and some that haven’t and I’m very lucky to be in the position to have moved on. It’s taken longer than expected but that’s life I guess. I had a bridge album that helped me and when it was played on the radio the presenters would say “Guess who this is?” That was a kind of a move on album but this one has moved on even more and I’m very pleased, I’m gonna stay on this route heading onwards and upwards.”

Described by Shaky himself as ‘going back to the roots of my music’, the ten-track album reveals the hardships and struggles of various members of his family, including his grandmother and grandfather and takes on a much darker side to Shaky’s previous albums.  He continued: “That’s down to the stories within the album. Behind Secrets And Lies covers the hidden tales families keep from each other over the years. There was a feud in the family and I could have been content with not bothering but it’s nice to know a lot more about the family. We weren’t looking for anything else but to know a lot more. I knew where I was born but I wanted to know where my ancestors were born and what their stories were.

“Down In the Hole tells the tale of the hardships working in the mines, working in dangerous conditions with poisonous air, while men, women and children were exposed to these dreadful conditions.”

The title track Echoes of the Times reflects Shaky’s uncle Leonard who was a gunner in the Royal Artillery for four years.  Shaky continued: “I didn’t know I had preachers in the family, I didn’t know my grandmother was in the Salvation Army and that I have family in the Salvation Army today. I had the pleasure of being invited to a Salvation Army concert and performing the track, The Fire in Her Blood which is about my grandmother, was a really fantastic thing to do. I only wish that she was there, and I know it sounds silly but in a way I think she was looking down on me that night.”

Heading to The Sands Centre in Carlisle on the 15th April, fans can look forward to a combination of Americana, blues, roots and classic rock. He added: “We’re gonna play all the tracks from the album in the concert and well as the hits, some in a different way and a few surprises too.”

Echoes of our Times is available to buy online and in stores now.

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