REVIEW: Kim Mitchell – Shakin’ Like A Human Being (1986)

KIM MITCHELL – Shakin’ Like A Human Being (1986 Alert)

Kim Mitchell really seemed to soften up on 1986’s Shakin’ Like A Human Being.  It’s Mitchell’s most successful album, featuring the massive hit single “Patio Lanterns”.  A lot of people are very fond of Shakin’ Like A Human Being, but I for one find it inferior to Akimbo Alogo in almost every way, especially production. Still, I haven’t played Shakin’ in a couple years, so let’s have a listen and try to be fair.

KIM_0004There’s certainly nothin’ wrong with the opener, “Get Lucky (Boys and Girls)”.  Kim wisely commenced the party with a rocker similar to Akimbo Alogo.  Synths are kept to a minimum, and a shout-along chorus that’s easy to remember is always a plus on a Kim Mitchell album.  Pye’s lyrics are as cool as ever.  “The more moral you get the more oral we get.”  I love that.  Kim tops the cake with a fun melodic guitar solo which is like the cherry on top — uber sweet.

Paul Delong is a fantastic drummer, and he gets a nice long (but clanky) intro on “In My Shoes”.   Unfortunately the song itself suffers from too much synth and programming.  It does have a nice little guitar lick to it and a great chorus, but the song is just too middle of the road.  “Alana Loves Me”, though a ballad, is better.  The chorus, featuring Peter Fredette, is stellar.  Too bad that synth is back.

“Patio Lanterns” sure does bring on the nostalgia.  The lyrics are so pure and perfect.  Even though it’s one of Kim’s softest moments, there is an integrity here in its earnest honesty.  Although Max Webster were a progressive rock band, as a solo artist Kim Mitchell definitely evolved into cottage rock.  This kind is song is the type that we hosers play on those warm July evenings on the cottage patio, outside speakers and beer at the ready.  It’s the kind of song everybody seems to like.

Side closer “That’s the Hold” is the hardest rock moment on the album.  It’s one of my favourite 80’s Kim rockers, and if didn’t have so much damn synth on it, it would be a classic.  The live version on I Am A Wild Party is much better.  Too bad.

The second side commences limply with “In Your Arms”.  This is just synthetic syrup.  This is the only song that isn’t written by the duo of Mitchell and Dubois: keyboardist Todd Booth co-wrote it, which might explain why I cannot discern any guitars until the song is half done.  But it gets worse:  I cannot stand “City Girl”.  There is no redeeming value to this steaming pile of synth and bad lyrics.

The fine country twang of the hit “Easy to Tame” is unfortunately tempered by…grrrr!…too much damn synth!  I should be able to hear Kim’s Fender clear and true, but it is buried beneath keys.  It’s still a great song, but all I really want is to hear what it would sound like without the keys. The music video, vocals and guitar solo are all great at least.  Incidentally, the music video is a completely different mix of the song.

“Cameo Spirit” is pretty cool, although it’s another slow keyboard song.  This is the kind of sentimental ballad that Kim became very adept at writing, post-Max.  His spare guitars are delightful, but I only wish for more of them.  The final track “Hitting the Ground” is equally good, but also equally drenched in keys.  The chorus is stellar, as are Pye’s lyrics.  Fortunately there are some guitars to sink your teeth in.  At least you end the album on an up note.

Sadly, Shakin’ Like A Human Being is the last Kim Mitchell album to feature his legendary O.P.P. (Ontario Provincial Police) baseball hat on the cover.  Shakin’ could have been a great album, equal or superior to Akimbo.  I place blame fully on the production.  Kim Mitchell self produced this album, so if anyone is to blame for all the synth and keyboards, it’s gotta be him.  Of note, Kim produced it at Le Studio, the same place Rush recorded Moving Pictures.  Too bad.  Oh what might have been.

2.5/5 stars

24 comments

  1. The problem was that it was 1986 when everybody thought synth was the way to go. That’s why we had Judas Priest’s “Turbo” that year. I hope like Priest, Kim learned his lesson after that.

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  2. Yep at the time everyone was kinda going for that ZZ Synthy Top feel. Akimbo tried it but I agree compared to the Alogo album this is nowhere near close to that masterpiece!
    No Rumour Has It on this one that’s for sure!
    But the show I seen for this tour was good! Actually my review is somewhere on my site!
    Cheap plug!
    Ha

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    1. Well said Deke, it was the ZZ synths and I believe Kim even worked with ZZ’s producer on the next record, didn’t he?

      I’m sure the tour was great…post a link dude! Like J-Roc says, cross-promotin’.

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  3. I have this CD and, while I’m not really a fan of the synths (even the extent of their use in Rush, and so on) I recall liking it better than a 2.5. I’ll have to go back and listen to it again – dammit Lebrain! You’re sending me to hear more music!

    Also: “The more moral you get the more oral we get.” Sounds to me like university philosophy students in ethics classes are getting the most BJ’s. ;)

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      1. Another further thought I had was that the synths for me seem to be hit and miss. I said (above) I’m not a fan, and that’s true, but I can tolerate them in contemporary-to-this-one albums like Rush (though they could have backed off a bit), even Van Halen’s Jump. Or Honeymoon Suite, right? They are just there, and I can tolerate it (and in fact am so used to hearing those songs with them in). But left to my own devices, I’d still tell them to leave it out and just get yer rock on, already. :)

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  4. I certainly like this album much more than you do. I hear you on the synths but i think the overall sound works for the material. Easy to Tame is a huge personal favorite of mine. Obviously Peter Fredette makes alot of this album special. Even Alana Loves Me, which really is pop pap …. is made special to me because of Fredette. I would have leaned more towards a 3.5 rating personally. Good review. It was just after this time that i saw Kim and the boys play a free show outdoors at the University of Waterloo. I am kinda proud of Kim pointing me out and berating me for yelling out Max Webster songs to play. Fun rock and roll moment for me

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    1. I’m glad to have a notable scholar such as Uncle Meat appear here with his wisdom. Peter Fredette was a crucial member of the band. A great talent vocally.

      I would be proud of the Kim berating too. My old buddy Rob Vuckovich once had David Coverdale heckle him from the stage on the Whitesnake 1987 tour, when he held a big sign that said PLAY PURPLE.

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  5. Cottage Rock. Great term.
    As of now the only track by this guy I’ve ever heard is “Easy to Tame” and I’d probably give it a -3/5.

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