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Was einmal war ist vorbei
Snobbery has always been rife on Britain’s northern soul scene. The more obscure the 45, the better – with records by unknown black American singers the coolest of all. Perhaps inevitably, though, as the supplies of old American records started to run out, DJs (begrudgingly) dug out songs by British singers that had a similar thumping beat. Wayne Fontana’s Something keeps calling me back is one such track. If purists turn their noses up at that, we can’t help but wonder what they’d make of this storming German cover of the song. Whatever. We love it.
Pour la gloire
What’s not to love about French singer Annie Philippe? She looked like an angel and sang some cracking tunes. What we’ve always found the most surprising, though, is that she scored her biggest hits with Ticket de quai and Mes amis, mes copains – two songs we’ve always thought a bit, well, miserable. Give us one like Pour la gloire any day. The track is taken from her 1967 EP Lettre pour Annie and is one of our all-time favourites.
Cheryl St Clair
My heart’s not in it
Arguing that her surname would hinder her pop career, Cheryl Cocklin became Cheryl St Clair when she joined CBS in 1966. Her short stay at the label saw her cut this fab version of a Darlene McRea track penned by Gerry Goffin and Russ Titleman. At Columbia that same year Cheryl issued What about me, and in 1970 she morphed into Alison Wonder to record Once more with feeling. But it is in her later incarnation that she is best known: Mrs Michael Barrymore. Yes, as wife and manager of the gay TV entertainer, Cheryl masterminded his spectacular rise. (His equally spectacular fall was his own doing.) The pair divorced in 1997, and in 2005 Cheryl died of cancer.
Here, Anna Cortinovis gives a funky – and downright sexy – twist to the jazz standard Harlem nocturne. Usually the song is performed as an instrumental, but we think the Italian vocals make a welcome addition. The song had been a US hit for New Jersey combo the Viscounts in 1966. Anna’s version followed in Italy a year later. The song was the best part of 30 years old by that point – it had originally been penned in 1939 and over the years it has been performed by any number of jazz greats.
Mama do the twist
Hum the first few bars of Susan Maughan’s Bobby’s girl to more or less any Brit over the age of about 40 and they’ll join in straight away. The track has remained so popular that Susan continues to enjoy a rewarding career on the back of it. Most people assume it was her debut release. Not so. Our choice, Mama do the twist, enjoys that distinction. Issued in 1961, the song should have been a huge hit – it was catchy as hell and hit the shops just at a time when the twist was the current dance craze – but it flopped all the same. There is no justice in this world.
In m’n agenda
Our thanks go to RSG visitor Paul for recommending this great tune from Dutch doll Trea Dobbs. She was born Trea van der Schoot in Eindhoven in 1947. Career-wise, 1964 was a big year for her – she enjoyed her first taste of chart success, with Parel van de Zuidzee, and took part in the Knokke festival. Her best-known hit, Ploem ploem jenka, came the following year – Trea had performed the song at the national final to select an entry for the Eurovision song contest. Though she lost out to Conny van den Bos, Trea enjoyed the bigger chart hit. Our pick was issued as the B-side of her Neem mijn hand in 1966.
Join us again next month when Ivor Lyttle will be taking on the mantle of guest editor. Check back and see what pops he’s picked for May.