Song 121 – Shakin’ All Over

SONG: Shakin’ All Over

ARTIST: Johnny Kidd & The Pirates

YEAR: 1960

Listen to it here: 


“Shakin’ All Over” was written by the leader of Johnny Kidd & the Pirates, Johnny Kidd himself. It reached number 1 in the UK, but was not a hit outside Europe, and is much better known by recordings from other artists, for instance, Chad Allan and the Expressions (later known as The Guess Who) recorded it in 1964, and that charted in Canada, the US and Australia. 

As far as what inspired the song, Johnny Kidd had this to say:

“When I was going round with a bunch of lads and we happened to see a girl who was a real sizzler, we used to say that she gave us ‘quivers down the membranes’. It was a standard saying with us referring to any attractive girl. I can honestly say that it was this more than anything that inspired me to write “Shakin’ All Over”.


Johnny Kidd & the Pirates were an English rock band that was led by the singer/songwriter Johnny Kidd. The group had numerous hits in the late 1950s, early 1960s, but their most famous hit was “Shakin’ All Over.” The band was known for their theatrical stage act, where they donned full pirate costumes. Johnny Kidd died suddenly in 1966 in an automobile accident, which led to the disbanding of the group. However, former members of the band reunited as The Pirates in 1976 and continued playing until the late 2000s.


  • The B-side of Johnny Kidd & the Pirates’ 1964 single “Always and Ever” was a cover of “Dr Feelgood” by blues pianist Willie Perryman. The name of the song is slang for heroin. The band Dr Feelgood took their name from the Johnny Kidd & the Pirates recording. 
  • There are SO MANY versions of this song, including by: The Guess Who, Mae West, The Who, Suzi Quatro, and Tin Machine. 


I know this song!  Well, I know a different version of this song – The Guess Who version.  And I HATE that version.  So I went in already with a bit of prejudice, and having listened to this version, I still don’t like it.  Johnny’s voice doesn’t irk me as much as Burton Cummings’ voice does, but I still don’t love it?  He’s not a great singer.  The band is…weird.  You have this tick ticky metronome-like guitar, then the main guitar that sounds like the guitarist was SUPER jazzed to have a whammy bar, then THE most boring drummer on the planet.  Like you could have used pedals and a sequencer in lieu of this poor guy.  The lyrics are a little different from regular love song fare, but of the ‘you’re so hot you make me physically ill’ variety.  But the thing I hate the most about this song is the melody, and not all of the melody, but one specific part – the ‘I’ve got the quivers (EW) down the thigh bone’ part.  It always sounds clangy and sour and out of tune to me.  It’s the aural equivalent of orange juice after brushing teeth.  It’s like what I imagine chewing tin foil with fillings feels like.  It’s unpleasant.   PASS. 


Oh. I thought this was a Guess Who song. I didn’t know it was originally written and performed by anyone else. I was hoping that the original would be way better, because I’m not a fan of The Guess Who’s version, but it’s just kind of different in ways that are no better. To me it sounds like a bunch of kids who were lucky to get a record deal. The parts don’t seem to fit together – Johnny’s voice is just fine, but he keeps doing that weird hiccup for no real reason, the drums are forgettable, and I’m not sure what’s going on with the two different sounds of guitar we have going on. I’m sure you can read Kelly’s review for a better review of the guitars, but the ticky one is almost cool as an effect, but it’s used so much that it just gets repetitive, and then the “full sounding” guitar sounds like wannabe surf guitar, but missing something. The melody and chord progression are pretty vanilla. Meh, it’s fine. Not good, just fine. 

Average mark out of 10:

Holly: 5/10

Kelly: 4/10

Other notable versions of this song:

The Guess Who have the most known version: 

The Who turn up the rock by a few clicks:

Also, Tom Petty. Ugh.

Listen with us!

Link to 1,001 Songs to Hear Before You Die spotify playlist:

One thought on “Song 121 – Shakin’ All Over

  1. I really dug your reviews!
    I was made aware of the original several years ago, and I’m not a fan of it either. Being from Winnipeg, I often point to the Chad Allen and the Expressions version with a sense of regional pride. They kicked the intensity up several notches in my opinion.


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