Here’s what we’re listening to this month. Don’t forget to vote for your favourite – you can use the form at the foot of the page.
Dimenticando il mondo
Tihm was short for Fathima – or Fathima Ben Said, to be exact. She was born in 1950 and of Italian and Arabic heritage. Early publicity hailed her – perhaps a little hopefully – as a cross between Italy’s own Mina and US soul star Aretha Franklin. Between late 1968 and 1973, she issued eight 45s and an album. Our pick, from her debut release, is a cover of Marvin Gaye and Tammi’s Terrell’s You’re all I need to get by. What it lacks in soul compared to the original, it makes up for in rawness. (And if Motown is your bag, check back next month when we’ll be publishing a Supremes special – featuring the Detroit trio’s foreign-language recordings and heaps of European cover versions of their hits.)
Who does he think he is
Signed to Decca, Brit girl Dodie West scored a UK top 40 hit – just – with Goin’ out of my head in January 1965. Then she switched to Piccadilly, where she cut three singles over the following year, before she found Country ‘n’ Western (as you do). We love this bitchy track, the B-side of Make the world go away, her final Piccadilly 45. On it, poor Dodie’s having boy trouble – her “stone-cold lover” is treating her badly. “He’s cruel but I adore him,” she wails. Fortunately, within two and a half minutes or so, she’s worked out what to do: “He can get lost,” she decides. Sigh. If only all broken hearts could mend so quickly.
María de los Angeles Rodríguez Fernández was way too long to fit on the label of a 7” – which probably explains why the young Spanish singer adopted the stage name Gelu. Our girl from Grenada transferred to Barcelona to kick off her recording career in 1960, aged just 15. She went on to score a host of hits, including El partido de futbol, a cover of a Italian hit by Rita Pavone and the reason we’re using so many football references here. Gelu was, erm, into the second half of her career when she cut this crowd pleaser in 1966, but we don’t care. And if you’ll forgive us one final football pun, we reckon she’s in a league of her own.
Avant qu’on ait vingt ans
French singer Zoé was born Nathalie Degand on 20 February 1944. She landed a contract with the Pathé label in 1963, and released the EP Maman m’a dit under her own name. It failed to set the charts alight, so three years later she found herself recording for the smaller, independent Monte Carlo label under a new name, Zoé. Our pick is the lead track of her sole Monte Carlo EP and was written by Serge Lama. Zoé, incidentally, wrote two of the other songs on the release, C’est cet air de guitare and J’ai rêvé (Sha la la).
Don’t pity me
Alongside his own pop career, Chris Andrews is known for having penned most of Sandie Shaw’s hits. By the late 1960s, he was also writing for Brit girl Sue Lynne. She released three singles on the RCA label, Reach for the moon, You and Baby baby baby. By far the best cut is this Andrews composition, the flip of 1969’s You. This slice of pop went on to find favour on Britain’s Northern soul scene. It should not be confused with US singer Joanie Sommers’ song of the same name, which also prompted much sprinkling of talcum powder on the dance floors on northern England.
Was früher war
Musically, German singer-cum-actress Heidi Brühl will forever be associated with Wir wollen niemals auseinandergehn, a song she performed at the German final to choose an entry for the 1960 Eurovision song contest. Although she finished second, the song enjoyed a seven-week run at number one in the charts. She is held in high regard internationally for her much later, lesser-known song Berlin, which she sang in English. But this month it’s this track from 1965 – a cover of the Essex’s Just for the boy – that’s got us humming as we do the vacuuming.