Artist of the Week – The Shamen

In the penultimate artist of the week slot back in 2005, we covered The Shamen. As always, apologies for any unintended inaccuracies, plagiarism, or hyperbole.

The story of The Shamen goes back to the early 1980s, when Colin AngusPeter StephensonKeith McKenzie and Derek McKenzie formed the group Alone Again Or. In 1986, they metamorphosed into The Shamen, and released the debut album Drop, a groundbreaking and decidedly early Madchester-style fusion of guitar riffs and dance rhythms, shortly after the release of which they were joined by Will Sinnott.

Two members down, the second album In Gorbachev We Trust saw them move more into dance territory, but only a year after its release, Will Sinnott drowned off the Canary Islands. Angus, now calling himself Mr. C, reformed the group, and they moved truly into the mainstream with 1991’s En-Tact album, heralded by such huge hits as Move Any Mountain and Make it Mine.

In 1993 their Boss Drum album saw them turn almost entirely pop, releasing drug-inspired hit after drug-inspired hit, but it also saw their long-term fans deserting them in droves, so their return in 1995, Axis Mutatis, was a much more sombre affair. Fusing new age idealism with deep dance rhythms, it truly is a much  overlooked mid-90s masterpiece.

The follow-up Hempton Manor came out the following year, and saw them dramatically split with their record company after no singles were released. The follow-up best of album The Shamen Collection was a minor hit, but is essentially made up of tracks off the Boss Drum album.

Their last album UV followed in 1998, and was a very deep and dark house-filled affair, with dark beats and the occasional lighter moment. Following very little interest for this project, the group disappeared into cyberspace, leaving very little trace behind except a legacy of late 80s and early 90s dance hits. These days Mr. C continues to DJ and release solo material.

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