On t’avait prévenue
We love France Gall. There’s something about her songs and her naïve vocals that just charms the very pants off us, if you’ll forgive the expression. Add in some fabulous backing vocals – as on this track – and we’re in seventh heaven. The song was issued in 1964 on her second LP. In it, she admits how foolish she was for not listening to her friends’ advice about her boy. Turns out he was a wrong 'un. Like us, we’re sure many of you will have found yourselves in a similar position at some point.
Norway’s Kirsti Sparboe was a star in her homeland before launching herself onto the German market. She is best known for representing her country three times at the Eurovision song contest and, in Germany, for her 1969 hit Ein Student aus Uppsala. The song is one that Germans would describe as an Ohrworm – literally, an ear worm, or one of those tracks you just can’t get out of your head. Our pick is the altogether classier Zwei Augen, issued two years earlier. This eerie tune was recorded in communist East Berlin, and given the common use of Stasi spies, its tale of a girl being watched was perhaps all too apt.
London’s Barbara Ruskin was one of Britain’s few singer-songwriters in the 1960s. OK, some of the others wrote a few songs here and there, but our Babs penned just about all of her material. Actually, she saw herself more as a songwriter than a singer. Our pick was the B-side to her 1968 single Pawnbroker, pawnbroker and we think it’s one of her best. The gentle tune and engaging lyrics have us humming along every time we hear it (which at the moment is quite a lot).
Óculos de sol
Skeeter Davis’ Sunglasses is, arguably, one of the campest songs of all time. (We think Sandy Posey’s version is even better, and we’re also quite partial to French yé-yé girl Sheila’s lyrically very different take on it, Dans la glace.) Anyway, imagine our delight on a recent holiday in Portugal to stumble across this little gem by Natércia Barreto. Perhaps surprisingly, it wasn’t released until 1970, by which time it risked sounding somewhat dated. No matter – it makes for perfect summer listening.
Our thanks to Ready steady girls! visitor Michael for sending us this song. And we don’t mean an MP3 file – we’re talking the actual 45 here. Dutch singer Suzie decamped to Sweden, where she based herself, but issued a number of records back in her homeland too, including Als ik van jou ga houden and 'k Zag je dansen met een ander. Many would argue that her Doe niet of jij van me houdt – a B-side in the Netherlands but re-recorded and issued as an A-side in Germany as Ich will immer nur dich – is her finest.
Ricordare o dimenticare
Italian singer Fiammetta spent the 1960s and early 1970s flitting from one label to the next. Our choice is taken from her stay at the Mini arm of the Bluebell label. The song was her entry to the 1967 Disco per l’estate contest and came closest to giving the Roman teenager a hit when it scraped into the very lower reaches of the Italian charts in the summer of that year. By the time of its release, she had already supported the Rolling Stones on a tour of Italy. Despite her lack of any great success, she has made a career in the music industry that has lasted right into the 21st century.