British girl group The Chantelles were formed from the embers of The Lana Sisters. Led by Riss Chantelle (formerly known as Iris Lana), the trio cut some high-quality material in the mid-1960s, made numerous TV appearances and even starred in a film.
The trio was formed in 1965 and consisted of Riss (Iris) Chantelle (née Long), Sandra Orr and Jay Adams. Riss led the group, which had evolved from The Lana Sisters, in which Dusty Springfield launched her career in the late 1950s.
After establishing a name for themselves as a live act, The Chantelles landed a contract with Parlophone, and in April 1965 they issued I want that boy as their first 45. The song was a terrific version of a release by little-known US singer Sadina. The confident production and spot-on vocal harmonies generated great interest in the disc and it made the top 40 charts of pirate station Radio London.
The follow-up, The secret of my success, issued that summer, proved disappointing, but the girls bounced back in October 1965 with the release of the pop gem Gonna get burned. The B-side, Gonna give him some love, with its pounding beat, also delighted fans and later found favour on Britain’s northern soul dance circuit.
The group was invited to appear in the crime caper Dateline diamonds, which also featured Kiki Dee and The Small Faces. In it, The Chantelles performed the ballad I think of you and the more danceable Please don’t kiss me. Both songs were issued on a single in April 1966, timed to coincide with the film’s release.
Nevertheless, their pop profile and their quality releases might reasonably have led The Chantelles to enjoy some chart success, but it wasn’t to be. So they switched to the Polydor label, where they cut the single There’s something about you in 1966. The song, another dance floor filler on the northern soul scene, has become their most in-demand release.
When it failed, however, they switched record labels again, this time to CBS, in 1967.
In something of a surprise move, an updated version of the Gerschwin standard The man I love became their first 45 for the new label.
Perhaps even more surprisingly, the group’s second and final single for the label, Out of my mind, failed to gain a UK release. It was issued in Germany, however, and in the US, in 1968. For the latter market, the group was billed as The Chantelles of London to avoid confusion with the American girl group The Chantels.
Nola York joined the group in its later stages, after Jay quit the group.
When The Chantelles disbanded in 1968, Riss became Nola’s manager. Nola has since enjoyed success on the stage in London’s West End, while Riss formed her own music publishing company, Chantelle Music.
With thanks to Bruce Welsh for additional research.
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