Liverpool-based brother-and-sister combo The Carrolls are best known for their northern soul stonker Surrender your love. However, what has remained largely an industry secret is that raven-haired lead singer Irene Carroll later found success as blonde comedienne/ actress/impersonator Faith Brown.
The Carrolls were a four-piece family group featuring vocals by Irene Carroll, who was born in Liverpool, on England’s north west coast, on 28 May 1944.
She started out singing at clubs in the Woolton area of the city while still at school. At the age of 16 her strong vocals won her a singing contest at the Rialto Ballroom and she was offered a job as its resident singer.
In the mid-1960s, she teamed up with her three brothers to form The Carrolls. The group won a recording contract with Polydor and, in the early summer of 1966, released its debut single, the stunning Surrender your love, penned by Motown’s Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson. (The song is sometimes confused with Diana Ross’s 1971 similarly titled single Surrender, and there is certainly a likeness.)
The result sounded like an offering from a black American soul singer and later became popular on Britain's northern soul dance scene. It was issued in competition with a beat version by Belfast-born Perpetual Langley, who had retitled hers simply Surrender.
Surrender your love made Radio Caroline’s chart, though not the official UK charts. However, it attracted enough attention to warrant the release of an album – er, in Romania. Irene took lead vocals on tracks such as Sweet talking guy (a version of US girl group The Chiffons’ hit) and No regrets (Edith Piaf's Je ne regrette rien), while her brothers took over on others, including various Beatles covers.
In the UK, the group moved to CBS Records, where they released the single So gently falls the rain in April 1968.
Two further 45s were issued that year: Ever since and the rather infantile Lemon balloon and a blue sky (the flip of the latter, Make me belong to you, proved the better side).
1969’s We’re in this thing together, penned by American soul legend Van McCoy and on which Irene shared vocals with the boys, later became another in-demand track on the northern soul circuit.
With a string of flops to their name, Irene quit the group and adopted the stage name Faith Brown. Lock me in became her first solo release. It sounded like a Clodagh Rodgers track – and indeed it had been written by Kenny Young and turned up on Clodagh’s Goodnight midnight LP.
For the follow up, issued in 1971, US singer Evie Sands’ terrific Any way that you want me was picked for a British makeover.
Further releases followed before Faith found fame doing impressions in the Who do you do? television series in 1975. She later hosted her own chat show and has, more recently, taken serious roles in TV’s Doctor Who and a touring production of the Sunset Boulevard musical.
In 2006, she took part in the reality TV show I’m a celebrity, get me out of here.
Follow the links to hear other singers’ versions of Carrolls songs
Surrender your love
Perpetual Langley: Surrender
Lock me in
The folk I love
We're in this thing together
Any way that you want me
Make me belong to you
Our pick of the pops
Dream babes, vol 8: Stockingtop pop
Buy online now
Sweet talking guy
Find 45s by The Carrolls and Faith Brown at GEMM