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Conchita Bautista: Te estás quedando conmigo
Conchita Bautista was born María Concepción Bautista Fernández in Seville on 27 October 1936. She achieved fame as both an actress and singer, appearing in her first film in the mid-1950s. She cut her debut disc – Vienen los gitanos – in 1958, though our pick was recorded a full ten years later. In the meantime, Conchita had the honour of being the very first person to represent Spain at the Eurovision song contest, in 1961. However, her entry, Estando contigo, finished a disappointing ninth. A second attempt, in 1965, with ¡Qué bueno, qué bueno!, proved even less successful, scoring a resounding nul points. Its failure didn’t harm her career and she continued acting and singing until the early 1980s.
Dana Gillespie: Tu n’as vraiment pas changé
The road from sports star to singing sensation isn’t as untraveled as you might imagine (or hope). In 1960s Britain, Anita Harris was the most successful, having started out as an ice skater. Dana Gillespie also made the transition from junior water skiing champion to pop/folk ingénue. She had been hanging around with folk singer Donovan, who penned You just gotta know my mind for her. With Jimmy Page at the production desk, the result is a corker and became Dana’s debut 45 for Decca, in November 1968. Here it is, though, in its ultra-rare French version, Tu n’as vraiment pas changé. (If you like Dana Gillespie, download the podcast of Australia’s Southern FM recent special on her.)
Paola Bertoni: Per favore baciami
Paola Bertoni’s tale is a somewhat familiar one for fans of Italian girl pop. Born in Ravenna on 5 April 1943, she learned her trade singing in dance halls – and was eventually spotted by a talent scout from the Milano Record Company. Before long, Paola was taking part in many a song contest. First came the 1965 Un disco per l’estate contest, where she performed the classically styled Un gioco d’estate. A single was released to coincide with the event and it proved a chart hit. Our choice was its flip, Per favore baciami, a cover of Nancy Wilson’s delightful Don’t come running back to me. Paola’s success helped her to secure a spot in the more prestigious San Remo contest in 1966 with the song Se questo ballo non finesse mai. For a year or so from then on, she became a regular on the contest circuit, until she called time on her career in late 1967.
Madeline Bell: You don’t love me no more
Madeline Bell liked this song so much she recorded it twice – the first time for release as a single in 1964, and the second for her debut LP four years later. And you can’t blame her: it is first rate. It was penned by Charles Blackwell, the songwriter, producer and arranger who is sometimes referred to as the godfather of the Brit girl sound. Blackwell was born on 20 May 1940, in Leytonstone, east London. Despite his passion for music and his classical piano training, he signed up as a trainee aircraft designer after leaving school – until a stint in a music publisher’s post room convinced him he should pursue a career in the industry. He tried plugging records but found he had no great talent for it. Then Joe Meek offered him work as an arranger. It wasn’t long before Blackwell was writing hit records too – with Come outside, performed by Mike Sarne and Wendy Richard, giving him a UK chart topper in 1962. He would go on to work with some of the top names in the music business, including Françoise Hardy, Kathy Kirby and, er, David Hasselhoff. Mr Blackwell, we salute you.
Heidi Franke: Er weiss noch nicht, daß ich ihn liebe
The A-side of this 1966 single is probably German singer Heidi Franke’s best-known recording. Issued as her first single for Polydor, it was a decent cover of The Walker Brothers’ hit The sun ain't gonna shine anymore, retitled Die Sonne scheint nicht mehr ohne dich. Her finely tuned, double-voiced version should have given her a hit, but it sank completely. Written by Günter Sonneborn and Heinz Meiser, our pick, the flip, finds Heidi pining for a boy who’s failed even to notice she exists. Her friends are worried about her – “You don’t laugh any more. What’s happened?” they ask. “Only someone in love can understand the pain,” she sobs. Fortunately, within the two-and-a-half minutes or so of the song, the object of her affection invites her for a coffee the following day. “Tomorrow may well be my nicest day,” she concludes. Phew!
Chriss Argelies: Il faut vivre vite
Chriss Argeliess was destined for a big career in music – or, at least, that was the plan. She signed to the large RCA Victor label at the age of 18. Bosses at the record company were impressed with the pouting brunette: not only could she sing, but she also wrote her own material. They quickly teamed her with top songwriter Georges Liferman, the man behind material for stars such as Annie Philippe and France Gall. Together the pair penned our pick, Il faut vivre vite, the title track of Chriss’s debut EP, issued in July 1963. It didn’t fare as well as hoped for – and neither did either of its successors, forcing Chriss to retire gracefully from the business just 18 short months later.