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Being plucked from a concert audience to sing on stage and then being offered a recording contract of your own is the stuff of teen dreams. But for Dutch doll Bonny St Claire that’s precisely what happened. At a Peter and the Rockets concert, Peter Koelewijn asked for a volunteer from the audience to accompany him. He was so impressed by Cornelia Swart that he engineered a solo contract for the young wannabe. Complete with a new name, Bonny St Claire, she issued the sexually charged Tame me tiger as her debut single, in 1967. Our choice, though, is the B-side of her follow up. With its stomping beat, I surrender has become a firm favourite on the Mod scene.
While continental singers such as Bonny St Claire were busy cutting records in English, British beat babe Sandie Shaw was twisting her tonsils around French. Our pick is her translated version of I don’t think you want me anymore. The original was one of the highlights of her Puppet on a string LP, which was hastily issued following her Eurovision song contest win with the title track. By this time, Sandie was at her vocal peak – gone were the sharp notes that had marred some tracks on her debut LP. Instead, she had learned to use her voice with skill, and this song – both in English and in French – is sublime. If you’d like to know more, we’ve just published a page about Sandie’s French career and recordings, with loads more great song picks.
This song marked a turning point for Carmen Villani. It saw her ditch the gentler ballads of her career to date and adopt the beat sound. The record wasn’t a huge success. Indeed it wasn’t until her record label stuck her on a diet and had her opt for a new blond 'do that she found any kind of lasting popularity. Further great releases followed – including La verità and Anche se mi vuoi – and appearances at Italy’s prestigious San Remo song festival, before Carmen jacked in singing to concentrate on acting. Thanks initially to her film director husband Mauro Ivaldi, she enjoyed a string of starring roles in somewhat dubious fare, such as Ecco lingua d’argento.
We first featured Tracy Rogers back in September 2009, when we picked her Back with you baby. Our choice this time, How love used used to be, is a lesser-known earlier release, from 1965. It wasn’t a hit, but that didn’t prevent Tracy from carving out a respectable career for herself all the same. She proved a popular singer and actress on film and on stage. In addition to roles in London’s West End, she also starred in a Broadway production of Noel Coward’s musical The girl who came to supper. Film work included a small role in the cult classic The leather boys, with Rita Tushingham. She later ran a couple of popular gay bars in Brighton until her death in 2008.
With her shotputter chic, Switzerland’s Liane Covi looked an unlikely star. But she was an experienced singer – indeed, between 1962 and 1972 she cut almost 20 singles in a range of styles. Unfortunately, the one thing they all have in common is a lack of success. She landed a contract with Vogue in 1962, having won a talent contest in Munich, before switching to Elite and then Polydor. At the latter she was cast in the role of the new Conny Froboess, though, sadly for Liane, the record-buying public were perfectly happy with the old one. Zu jung, which she recorded for the label in 1966, came closest to giving the singer a hit, receiving a lot of airplay on Radio Luxembourg. Our choice was cut a couple of years later, by which time she’d joined the Cornet label, and was issued as the B-side to Bottle of wine.
Born in 1930, Carmen Sevilla rose to fame in the late 1940s. She became one of Spain’s most popular actresses of the 1950s and began cutting the occasional disc. She was signed to the Philips label, so when its parent company wanted someone to front an advertising campaign in 1965, she was an obvious choice. She was whisked into the studio to record Flamenca ye-yé, an ode to Philips’ electrical goods. With heavy promotion on TV and radio, the song became a huge hit in its own right. She would continue to record into the early 1970s, though acting was always her chief metier. When the roles dried up, she went on to become a TV presenter.
Tout est changé
Congratulazioni a te
How love used to be
Alles oder nichts
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