The Infinite Jukebox: Shotgun Express’s ‘I Could Feel The Whole World Turn Round’

Until you get to the back end of the Sixties, and that vogue for lushly orchestrated pop that was ushered in by The Love Affair’s ‘Everlasting Love’, there wasn’t much need for strings on pop. They were usually too sweet, too soft. Dusty Springfield’s orchestrations stood out, as they had to do with a voice like hers to contend with, The Walker Brothers used them sagaciously, but you have to get to the middle Sixties before you start to see the use of strings as an instrument of power: strong, severe, demanding.
The obvious one is always Chris Farlowe’s classic blues shout over the strings that saw away from the start of ‘Out of Time’, or Motown’s use of them on ‘Reach out, I’ll Be There’, The Four Tops’ biggest hit over here. Both songs were number 1s and overwhelmingly deserving. This one wasn’t, but when you listen to it below, you’re going to wonder why the hell not? With an intro like that, with a returning theme, with a chorus that soars like that, any fair-minded person is going to boggle that this didn’t take off, isn’t every bit a Sixties landmark as Farlowe or the Tops.
And before you ask, yes, that is the voice of a young Rod Stewart in there, sharing some boisterous yet yearning vocals with that overlooked Scouse songstress, Beryl Marsden.
Shotgun Express were a blues band, with people like Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood in their ranks, so in that sense ‘I can feel the whole world turn round’ is an anomaly, with the string riffs adding a pop sensibility that would normally have been outside the band’s self-set remit. But listen carefully, and in between those bursts of that yearning, all-encompassing sweet severity, the verses showcase the band to its roots, a hustling rhythm, the organ bursting with energy, and then the strings sweep back in as the melody sweeps back, just one single breath of sound.
The strings underpin the lead-in to that chorus and the grand melody of it, high, sweet but steel-like in their majesty, a distant background as firm as the beat, underscoring the gorgeous ache of the words.
And I can feel the whole world turn round underneath me, exactly mirroring the aching, arching melody. I can feel the whole world turn round when you’re near me. Stewart and Marsden’s voices mesh as they rise through this and I can forgive Stewart a very large part of his career post-the bass line in ‘D’Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ just because I can listen to this.
Who do I complain to that I have only known this song for a few years and had to learn about it from Sounds of The Sixties and much-missed Brian Matthew? Who do I complain to that this was not the massive success it should have been, and influenced the people who should have heard it? Who do I complain to that this didn’t change the course of Rod Stewart’s career and maybe saved us from everything since 1980?
And can I listen to this again, please, because it captures that feeling of rapture that only comes from being with the one person. And the whole world does indeed turn around underneath you.

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