The Shakin' Pyramids
|The Shakin' Pyramids|
The Shakin' Pyramids in Montreal, 1983 (l-r: Dave Duncan, James G. Creighton, Ken McLellan)
Rock and Roll
|Years active||Late 1970s–1983|
|Labels||Cuba Libre (Virgin Records)
Scotti Brothers Records
|Past members||Dave Duncan
James G. Creighton
"Railroad" Ken McLellan
The Shakin' Pyramids (also known as Shakin' Pyramids) were a Scottish rockabilly band formed in Glasgow in the late 1970s. The band consisted of Dave Duncan (vocals, harmonica, percussion) James G. Creighton (acoustic & electric guitar, vocals) and "Railroad" Ken McLellan (acoustic guitar, vocals).
During the band's recording career from 1980–1983, they released two studio albums, four singles and three extended plays—one of which was recorded with the late British recording star Lonnie Donegan. A 1983 compilation album was released shortly after the group's disbandment, and a live album followed in 2001. Although the band did not enjoy any major chart successes, their work was generally well received by critics. They earned a fan base through their energetic live performances, which were originally honed on the streets of Glasgow and later exhibited via their extensive touring and a number of television appearances. In recent years, their work has been described as having helped define the short-lived rockabilly revival of the early 1980s.
The Shakin' Pyramids originally formed in the late 1970s as buskers and quickly gained a reputation for their live performances on the streets of Glasgow. The band then spent time in France writing material and developing their sound while using their busking skills to pay their way. Upon returning to Scotland, The Shakin' Pyramids signed a record deal with Cuba Libre, a subsidiary of Virgin Records.
The band's first song for the label, "Reeferbilly Boogie", was recorded in 1980 on a four-track recorder at the Hellfire club in Glasgow, and was unexpectedly named "Single of the Week" by NME. Their first EP, entitled Take a Trip, was released the following year. The title track appeared on their debut album, entitled Skin 'Em Up (1981), which was released to positive reviews, notably receiving perfect review ratings in popular publications such as NME and Rolling Stone, as well as being cited in later years as a favourite among rockabilly collectors. AllMusic, who also praised the record, described it as having "helped define the short-lived rockabilly revival of the early '80s." The album was promoted by a single, "Tennessee Rock 'n 'Roll", which was also released as an EP featuring original b-side "Alright Alnight" and two new tracks. That year, the band increased their profile by recording and releasing a third and final EP with the late British recording star Lonnie Donegan, who has been described by the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles & Albums as "Britain's most successful and influential recording artist before The Beatles."
The band's second and final studio album, Celts and Cobras (1982) – on the cover of which they were billed as "Shakin' Pyramids" – was more diverse in its style but was not as warmly received as the band's debut release. Trouser Press declared that "The band still rocks, but they'd better figure out where they're going." "Pharaoh's Chant" was released as the album's first single, followed by "Just A Memory"  The band toured with Men at Work in 1983, playing Celts and Cobras to larger audiences. At the peak of their popularity, the band played to audiences worldwide, as well as making a number of television appearances. Ultimately, Celts and Cobras was seen as a departure from their original sound, and the group disbanded in 1983, midway through a Canadian tour.
The Shakin' Pyramids (1983), a compilation album, was released shortly after the group's disbandment by Rock 'n Roll Records, a Scotti Brothers Records subsidiary. A live set recorded at the Kelvingrove Free Music Festival in Glasgow in May 1981 was released as Reeferbilly Blowout by Raucous Records in 2001. Bootleg compilation albums, such as Shakin' Pyramids: The Collection, have also surfaced over the years.
Post-Shakin' Pyramids endeavours
Creighton later became frontman of the Buicks. As of the mid 2000s, he was employed by Jobcentre Plus as an administrative assistant, on an annual salary of £9,900. Creighton released a self-titled solo album in 2013 via Raucous Records. His follow-up album Make Some Noise was released on Raucous in 2014.
Duncan and McLellan now perform as the Véloniños with guitarist Laurie Cuffe and bassist Hugh Jamieson. The group's first public performance was at the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow in September 2013. They continue to perform regularly and self-released a digital EP featuring six songs in July 2015. On Monday 4th January 2016 the Véloniños announced a full-length album would be released in February 2016.
- Take a Trip (1981)
- Tennessee Rock 'n 'Roll (1981)
- The Shakin' Pyramids and Lonnie Donegan EP (1981)
- "Reeferbilly Boogie" (1980)
- "Tennessee Rock 'n 'Roll" (1981)
- "Just a Memory" (1982)
- "Pharaoh's Chant" (1982)
- The Shakin' Pyramids (1983)
- Reeferbilly Blowout (2001)
- The Shakin' Pyramids: The Streets of Glasgow at rockabilly.nl
- Shakin' Pyramids at Trouser Press
- Liner notes for Reeferbilly Blowout
- Skin 'Em Up review, NME, 28 March 1981 (10/10)
- List of five-star albums from the second edition of The Rolling Stone Record Guide (1983) (archived at rockmusiclist.co.uk)
- Skin 'Em Up review at AllMusic
- Roberts, David (2001). British Hit Singles (14th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 30–32. ISBN 0-85156-156-X.
- Shakin' Pyramids Biography at AllMusic
- Pharaoh's Chant at Discogs
- Just a Memory at Discogs
- Men at Work, Cargo tour, 1983
- The Shakin' Pyramids: Reeferbilly Blowout at Raucous Records
- Belcher, David. Pop parody that is pure Pulp. The Herald. 26 April 1994. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
- James G. Creighton at Discogs.
- Véloniños – The official website of the Véloniños
- Centre for Contemporary Arts
- Digital EP available now! – Véloniños
- Pre-order our upcoming album! – Véloniños