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2CD Set: RHGB31

827565060030

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HELEN, DUSTY, SUSAN, CAROL & MORE
Early Brit Girls Vol. 2

Disc One
THE VERNONS GIRLS The Loco-Motion
HELEN SHAPIRO
Kiss ’n’ Run
PENNY
Who Does He Think He Is?
JAN BURNNETTE
The Boy I Used To Know
ALMA COGAN
All Alone
PATSY ANN NOBLE
Sour Grapes
BILLIE DAVIS
Tell Him
PATTI BROOK
Since You’ve Been Gone
JULIE GRANT
So Many Ways
PETULA CLARK
Romeo
CAROL DEENE
Kissin’
BEVERLEY SISTERS
I Dreamed
MARION RYAN
Uh-Oh, I’m Falling In Love Again
NANCY WHISKEY with CHAS McDEVITT & HIS SKIFFLE GROUP
Johnny-O
MAUREEN EVANS
Plenty Good Lovin’
SUZY COPE
Juvenile Delinquent
DIANA DORS
The Point Of No Return
LYNN CORNELL
Demon Lover
ANNETTE KLOOGER
Rhumba Cardi
JAN & KELLY
Prepare To Meet Your Fate, Mate
CAROL DEENE
Somebody’s Smiling
LOUISE CORDET
In A Matter Of Moments
SUSAN MAUGHAN
Some Of These Days
GLENDA COLLINS
Head Over Heels In Love
LANA SISTERS
Mister Dee-Jay
LORRAE DESMOND
Wait For It
BILLIE ANTHONY
This Ole House
HELEN SHAPIRO
Keep Away From Other Girls
DONNA DOUGLAS
The Message In A Bottle
THE SPRINGFIELDS
My Baby’s Gone
JACKIE LEE & THE RAINDROPS
Will You Love Me Tomorrow
VALERIE MOUNTAIN & THE EAGLES
Too Late
KATHY KIRBY
Danny
SHIRLEY BASSEY
Climb Ev’ry Mountain

Disc Two
HELEN SHAPIRO Little Miss Lonely
PETULA CLARK
Sailor
MAUREEN EVANS
Never In A Million Years
JULIE GRANT
When You Ask About Love
BILLIE DAVIS
I’m Thankful
PATSY ANN NOBLE
Don’t You Ever Change Your Mind
SUZY COPE
Not Never Not Now
JACKIE FRISCO
You Can’t Catch Me
CANDY SPARLING
When’s He Gonna Kiss Me
DONNA DOUGLAS
All The Other Girls
CAROL DEENE
On The Outside Looking In
VERNONS GIRLS
Don’t Wanna Go
SPRINGFIELDS
Far Away Places
BEVERLEY SISTERS
Born To Be With You
JEAN CAMPBELL
Two Hearts, Two Kisses
ALMA COGAN
This Little Girl’s Gone Rockin’
MARION RYAN
Stairway Of Love
LANA SISTERS with AL SAXON
Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat
SALLY KELLY
Little Cutie
CHERRY ROLAND
Just For Fun
PATTI BROOK
Look What You’ve Done To Me
BILLIE ANTHONY
Love And Kisses
PAT READER
May Your Heart Stay Young Forever
GRAZINA
So What
HAYLEY MILLS
Johnny Jingo
JACKIE LEE & THE RAINDROPS
There Goes The Lucky One
LORRAE DESMOND
Soda Pop Hop
SUSAN MAUGHAN
I Didn’t Mean What I Said
GLENDA COLLINS
Crazy Guy
GALE WARNING
Heartbreak Hotel
DIANA DORS
Let There Be Love
ANNETTE KLOOGER
Amor
LYNN CORNELL
Moanin’
SHIRLEY BASSEY
As Long As He Needs Me

Like its predecessor, Bouffants, Beehives & Backcombing - Early Brit Girls Vol.1 (RHGB 25), this compilation traces the rise of UK ladies from the R&R era to the early 60s, and heralds the newly emergent Brit Girl sound that was evolving at the dawn of the Beat era.  As we have learned, although the arrival of the archetypical 60s ‘dolly bird’ was still a couple of years away, by the turn of that decade a whole ‘new look’ Brit Girl was emerging; a slim, wan, wide-eyed young gazelle, the polar opposite of the fiercely glam, tightly-corseted, frilly-petticoated, carefully-coiffed, severely made-up filly of the 1950s, who’d ruled the roost.  During the 60s, even the ‘old guard’ underwent serious makeovers, with the result that establishment figures like Alma Cogan, The Beverley Sisters, Petula Clark, Marion Ryan and Shirley Bassey began to look younger than their mothers for the first time in their lives.  And the newcomers to the scene were bringing an entirely fresh look and sound to the party…

Back in the dark ages (aka early/mid 50s), female singers had invariably found themselves cast as the ‘poor relations’ as far as the UK hit parade was concerned, essentially because the prime singles-buying market was teenage girls, who tended only to buy records made by those young men who were the objects of their adolescent fantasies.  As a consequence, girl singers - most of whom had come up through either the Variety circuit or the various dance bands - were targeted directly at the older, Mums, Dads & Grans’ market, and their records generally reflected this, tending to concentrate heavily on naff novelty/show tunes or straight covers of mainstream US hits. The problem here was that there was invariably stiff competition - the same four or five girls would frequently find themselves competing with one another on the same song - which in turn often led to split sales and airplay. 

For example, there were no less than five UK covers of Rosemary Clooney’s US No.1 ‘This Ole House’ (we’ve chosen Billie Anthony’s, which was the biggest Brit version), ditto Jean Campbell on ‘Two Hearts, Two Kisses’ (which also had three US hit versions to contend with).  This would continue well into the R&R era - The Beverley Sisters went up against plenty of rivals on ‘I Dreamed’ and ‘Born To Be With You’, ditto Marion Ryan on ‘Uh-Oh, I’m Falling In Love Again’ and ‘Stairway Of Love’, whilst Alma Cogan’s (surprisingly good) cover of Ruth Brown’s ‘This Little Girl’s Gone Rockin’’ remained unissued at the time, as Janice Peters had already beaten her to it.  Talking of UK covers, Maureen Evans first began recording for Woollies’ cheapo Embassy label, selling truckloads of covers of Connie Francis records; ‘Plenty Good Lovin’’ was one of her best (Maureen later, of course, had hits under her own steam).

Of course, there were the occasional novelty R&R records - perhaps none more so than Gale Warning (aka Frances Day)’s frankly ludicrous rendition of ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, whilst Drumbeat favourites The Lana Sisters (aided and abetted by Al Saxon, and featuring a youthful Mary O’Brien, aka Dusty Springfield) offered one of four UK covers of ‘Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat’.  But more importantly, the R&R era also saw some new faces emerging, often singing less mainstream repertoire, e.g. Sally Kelly, Glenda Collins, Patti Brook, Donna Douglas - and also Lorrae Desmond, who somehow contrived to straddle both Skiffle and R&R.  Talk of Skiffle brings us to the vastly underrated Nancy Whiskey, whose brief flirtation with the big time came with The Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group and their million-selling ‘Freight Train’ (although we’ve included ‘Johnny-O’, which she sang in the film The Golden Disc).

The transition from the 50s to the 60s was gradual rather than instant, and a handful of ‘establishment’ singers were able to acclimatise to new sounds and styles.  None more so, perhaps, than Petula Clark whose singing career stretched back to the late 40s.  ‘Sailor’ and ‘Romeo’ were a couple of her biggest early 60s hits, although she would successfully reinvent herself later in the decade when she teamed up with writer/producer Tony Hatch.  Another 50s name to successfully re-establish herself in the 60s was Shirley Bassey, although it must be said she made fewer concessions to changing styles.  ‘As Long As He Needs Me’ was, of course, from Lionel Bart’s Oliver, while her chart-topping ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’ came from The Sound Of Music.  One singer who made the musical transition effortlessly, yet astonishingly enjoyed little renewed commercial success, was the aforementioned Alma Cogan; her 1961 release ‘All Alone’ certainly sounds as though it should have been a hit.

Scot Annette Klooger was another former danceband singer who’d seemingly been around forever - her splendid ‘Amor’/‘Rhumba Cardi’ was a 1960 single, still much in demand among collectors; she later went to live in Australia, where she enjoyed great popularity.  In much the same bag musically was glamour puss Diana Dors, who demonstrated that she had a voice to match her other attributes on another eagerly sought-after collectors’ item, viz: her 1960 LP Swinging Dors, from whence we’ve plucked ‘The Point Of No Return’ and ‘Let There Be Love’Jackie Lee (occasionally backed by The Raindrops) had also been a regular TV and radio singer since the mid-50s - she would register her biggest hits in the late 60s/early 70s - and whilst Kathy Kirby first began recording in 1960, she, too, would enjoy her biggest successes later in the decade.

The ‘turning point’, as far as British girl singers was concerned, came with the arrival of fourteen-year old Helen Shapiro in 1961, who topped the UK charts with two of her first three releases.  Her biggest hits can be found elsewhere in this series (check out RHBG 25 and RHGB 28), although ‘Little Miss Lonely’ was another top tenner, whilst ‘Keep Away From Other Girls’ made the Top 40 and ‘Kiss ’n’ Run’ was a popular B-side.  Hot on her heels came a host of other precocious teenagers, most notably Hayley Mills, Louis Cordet, Carol Deene, Julie Grant, Valerie Mountain and Billie Davis, whose first 45, a cover of The Exciters’ ‘Tell Him’, became a massive hit in early 1963 (Billie had earlier ‘sung’ on Mike Sarne’s ‘Will I What?’).  Less commercially successful, perhaps, but no less enchanting were Cherry Roland, Suzy Cope, Jackie Frisco, Patsy Ann Noble and Candy Sparling.

Just a couple of years older - but somehow a little more ‘grown-up’ in comparison - were the likes of Susan Maughan, Grazina, Jan Burnnette, the wholly magnificent Vernons Girls (who actually dated back to the 50s, and Oh Boy!), former Vernons Girl Lynn Cornell (her ‘Demon Lover’ was one hell of a record), Vernons copyists Jan & Kelly, and The Springfields - not actually a ‘girl group’ of course, but their records acted as a showcase for Dusty Springfield’s remarkable voice, which invariably dominated proceedings.

But to give the last word to Penny (Calvert) - who was, at this time, married to Bruce Forsyth - she sings what is, without doubt, the finest lyric on this collection: in answer to the eternal question ‘Who Does He Think He Is?’, it transpires that he’s “…the biggest egg in the frying pan!”

Groper Odson

With special thanks to Mick Patrick, Malcolm Baumgart and Lucky Parker

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RockHistory.co.uk is an on-going historical project to record the background stories and the anecdotes from the people who participated in greatest British musical explosion that started back in the 1950s and that went on to reverberate right round the world. Tales about the origins of the songs, the roots of the groups and the front of the performers. These CD releases are part of a series of multi-media release that are all linked via the www.RockHistory.co.uk

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