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Our pick of the pops, December 2011

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Simone

Gelegenheit macht Diebe

We love this song. It was tucked away on the flip of German singer Simone’s Er sieht aus wie ein Mann, issued in 1967. We reckon it’s even better than the rather good A-side, her take on Just like a man, originally recorded by Emma Rede. The title translates – perhaps a little inelegantly – as ‘opportunity makes the thief’. The point Simone’s trying to make, she explains, is that although her fella claims he can be faithful, he’s off kissing other girls when he has the chance. Despite the quality of the release, Simone would have to wait until the 1970s before finding success, even scoring a US disco hit as Jackie Robinson.  

 

Val McKenna

Now that you’ve made up your mind

Britain’s Val McKenna was quite the accomplished songwriter. In fact, given her writing skills and her impeccable choice of covers, we can’t help but think she should have been a much bigger star. Take this release, for example. On one side you have Mixed up, shook up girl, Val’s take on the Patty and the Emblems US hit, and on the other, this, our pick, one of her own compositions. And as well as penning her own material, Val would also give some of her best work to other artists. Leave my baby alone, recorded by Britt, springs to mind. (If you like US girl groups, check back next month when we’ll be publishing a tribute special, with loads of European cover versions of girl group greats.)

 

Renata Pacini

Che ragazzo terribile

Renata Pacini’s recording career got off to a cracking start with this take on British singer Christine Quaite’s Mr Stuck-Up. The result is an absolute yé-yé gem that should have sent her sailing into the upper reaches of the Italian charts. Bosses at the Durium label had spotted her performing at the 1964 Castrocaro contest and snapped her up – but when things didn’t work out as they expected, they didn’t have a plan B. For her follow up, issued in 1965, she cut a version of The Supremes’ Stop! In the name of love, In nome dell’ amore (see our Supremes tribute special). When it flopped, Durium continued to insist it should have been a hit. So, rather sneakily, the label sent Renata off to the 1966 Cantagiro contest to give the song another airing. The ploy failed, and, having lost faith in the company, Renata moved on to RCA in 1967 and then to Italdisc.

 

Sylvie Vartan

L’oiseau

Roll back the carpet and get dancing. This track is from Sylvie’s 1967 album Comme un garçon. The LP marked a change of direction for the singer. Out were the yé-yé cover versions that had been such a huge part of her early career, and in came original compositions from the likes of Jean-Jacques Debout and Éric Charden. The songs that made up the album had been recorded in one all-night session in London under the watchful eyes of Arthur Greenslade and Reg Guest. And this is one of the absolute highlights of the release.

 

The Kaye Sisters

Keep on lovin’ me

Britain’s Kaye Sisters shot to fame in the mid-1950s, but hadn’t scored a hit since 1960’s Paper roses. So when Ivor Raymonde took over their musical direction in 1963, the ‘sisters’ – unrelated singers Carol Young, Shan Palmer and Sheila Jones – must have thought their ship had finally come in. His career was on the up, and by the time this record was issued a year later, he was riding high on the success of Dusty Springfield’s I only want to be with you. The fact that he and Mike Hawker had written Dusty’s debut hit and came together again to terrific pen this number boded well for the girls. Its failure, then, must have been as disappointing for them as it was for its writers.

 

Las Hermanas Ros

Estilo beat

And for a second helping of sister acts, we have the Ros sisters with a delicious slice of late 1960s pop: 1967’s Estilo beat. The pair, María del Carmen and Monserrat Ros, began their recording career in 1965 with Un so de festa, sung in Catalan. Releases were a bit sporadic and in 1968 they found themselves without a recording contract. They tried for a comeback in 1970 by entering the national selection for a Spanish entry to the Eurovision song contest. Spain had won the contest in both 1968 and 1969, so representing the country in 1970 guaranteed media exposure – and record sales. However, the pair lost out to somebody called Julio Iglesias. (Wonder what happened to him?) As for the sisters, they became session singers – though they did achieve their Eurovision goal in 1972, albeit as backing singers for Jaime Morey.

Hear Simone Gelegenheit macht Diebe

Simone

Gelegenheit macht Diebe

Hear Val McKenna Now that you've made up your mind

Val McKenna

Now that you've made up your mind

Hear Renata Pacini Che ragazzo terribile

Renata Pacini

Che ragazzo terribile

Hear Sylvie Vartan L'oiseau

Sylvie Vartan

L'oiseau

Hear The Kaye Sisters Keep on lovin' me

The Kaye Sisters

Keep on lovin' me

Hear Hermanas Ros Estilo beat

Las Hermanas Ros

Estilo beat

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Our pick of the pops

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Simone: Er sieht aus wie ein Mann Val McKenna - Now that you've made up your mind Renata Pacini: Che ragazzo terribile Sylvie Vartan: Comme un garçon Kaye Sisters: Keep on lovin' me Hermanas Ros: Estilo beat 0 Bar small

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