CD Review: “My Life As A Secret Agent” from Shabby Rogue

Shabby_RougeCheck out Shabby Rogue at  And be quick, This jumping single is available as free download via throughout September. This is the first single from Shabby Rogue second album By Hook and by Crook due for release in early 2010. I am eagerly awaiting this release, on the basis of this I shall be playing it a lot.

“My life as a Secret Agent” is like a fine clock spring unwinding once released, rapidly building up tempo initially when released then smoothly an rapidly unwinding progressively until the end where the tension of the rhythms rapidly but progressively diminishes. It has echoes of old time 60’s greats such as Bob Dylan and Arthur Lee while incorporating so many more modern ones in true style. It has a classic rocking rythyms revolving around a truly catchy bassline and backbeat. There are great guitar chords in the choruses and some heavy hillbilly riffs, this single is short and sweet and just so much fun.

Shabby Rogue have been together for five years and have produced one previous album Hair Nails and Beauty. Shabby Rogue feature three songwriters, Jonny Famous, Shaun Litton and Tom Sheppard, who all sing, play guitar, bass and keys on different tracks. Terry Green is the drummer. The creativity of Shabby Rogue is of traditional rock ’n’ roll style and inspiration. The three minutes of surf pop-paranoia as built on a riff written by Jonny Famous. The lyrics were inspired by a spell of drug induced anxiety, Shaun Litton explains, “Its about a night when I was getting back to my dirty little bed-sit in Bayswater. I had no money, all I had on me was drugs, I had this cartoon stuff going on in my head, like exploding cartoons. And I definitely started to think that people were following me. Nothing, Prozac, elevator-pop, self-help literature, was going to calm me down, not a good time to be with me to be honest”. Not a good time for Shaun but great for song inspirations, obviously.

The track and most of the album was recorded in a converted barn studio located in the Brecon Beacons, Wales UK. The fraught recording sessions were made on a very tight budget with little time available. Tom Sheppard explains, “I think we did three takes and decided to use the first. So I guess anxiety, exhaustion, substance abuse were the four elements we were hoping to capture”. And so they did, so very effectively. It was drummer Terry Greens wish to record the album in one session. The rest of the band thought that this was a foolish notion but “My Life as a Secret Agent” still has the chaotic and intense energy of the original live take. To explain more Shaun adds “We wanted the sound of the record to reflect the chaos of that night in Bayswater, how fast things seemed to be happening in my head. And we wanted it to have that garage punk feel- one definite influence on this record is the Sonics. If its raw, it’s because we like it uncooked”.

I do too, this is smouldering and just so how rock ’n’ roll should be, true, honest and most of all, from the gut and heart/soul. Just be sure that if you are writing songs yourselves, don’t try this at home kids! Shabby Rogue are showcasing the new album over the coming months in the UK with a series of gigs including October 8th Free Tibet Fundraiser, Brixton October 12th The Hair of the Dog @The Spice of Life, Soho October 18th The Horseshoe, Downend, Bristol (I will be at this one!) October 22nd Tommy Flynn’s, Camden October 31st the Enterprise, Camden If you are anywhere within striking distance, do go and soak up Shabby Rogue.

Editor’s Note:

Download Shabby Rogue’s single “My Life As A Secret Agent” for free at through September. Also check out the band’s newest songs on their MySpace account right now at before the band’s next release of By Hook and by Crook is released in 2010. Or you can find the band’s current release of Hair Nails and Beauty by clicking on the album cover below.