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Jackie De Shannon first came to the record buying public’s attention in 1965 when she was offered What the world needs now is love after Dionne Warwick turned it down. She took the Burt Bacharach and Hal David number into America’s Billboard top ten. With their references to cornfields and wheatfields, the lyrics suited the Kentucky-born singer to a tee. However, Jackie remains better known as a songwriter in her own right. Indeed, her composition Put a little love in your heart gave her the biggest hit of her singing career. She also wrote dozens of songs that were recorded by other artists. Among the less well known of those is Allo, French singer Arielle’s take on Baby bye-o. If you would like to know more about Arielle, check back or sign up for updates, because we’ll be publishing a full profile of her in the new year.
Glenda Collins: If you’ve got to pick a baby
“If you've got to pick a baby, why don’t you pick on me?” trills Londoner Glenda Collins on her fifth single, issued in 1963. Whether songwriter and producer Joe Meek had Glenda in mind when he penned these lyrics is open to question. The pair are understood to have discussed marrying each other, though we can see that things wouldn’t have been straightforward for them. Meek had – how shall we put it? – a special secret. And, let’s face it, that doesn’t make the the ideal starting point for a marriage between a man and a woman. Meek couldn’t have foreseen that one day he would have been able to marry another man – it would be another 40 years or so before gay marriage became legal in Britain.
Monna Bell: Las viudas
We’ve cast our musical net a little wider for you this month. Here, then, is Chile’s Monna Bell. Already a success at home, Monna became a star in Spain too after winning the very first Benidorm song festival, in 1960, with Una telegrama. It launched a string of hits that included La montaña, Silencio corazón, Aún te sigo amando, Envidia and Tómbola over the following three years. She remained with the Hispavox label, but became a less frequent visitor to the recording studio after that. Our pick, though, is from a clutch of releases in 1965 and 1966, and is the theme tune to the 1966 Spanish comedy caper Las viudas.
Nina Simone: Così ti amo
Continuing this month’s delve beyond the confines of Europe, we stumbled upon this track from Nina Simone. Never a fan of pop, the American singer fused gospel and classical music with her material. Indeed, her expressive jazz-like styling is something she became known for in particular. We can only assume, then, that she spoke no Italian. We say that because on this 1969 single – a translation of her hit, To love somebody – she could be reciting RAI’s TV listings for all the passion she musters. Other parts of Europe captured the singer’s imagination more, it seems. Nina lived in both Switzerland and the Netherlands for a while, before moving permanently to France in 1992, where she would die 11 years later.
Liza Dulittle: I’ve got to get a grip of myself
Aside from Irish singers such as Jackie Lee, Muriel Day and Perpetual Langley, the Emerald Isle doesn’t feature as much on Ready steady girls! as it perhaps deserves. Redressing that this month is Liza Dulittle. As you’ve probably worked out already, this wasn’t the singer’s real name. She was, in fact, Margaret Burns – who was perhaps better known as Margo, of Margo and the Marvettes. For this 1968 single, she adopted an alias, after falling out with her manager. The song had been penned by frequent collaborators John Schroeder and Anthony King and it finds Liza pulling off her best Dusty Springfield impression. When we find more Irish artists with repertoires going beyond the confines of the showband circuit, we’ll happily share them with you.
Vera Palm: Sunday love
It was a crisp, bright Sunday morning when we sat down to plan this month’s Pick of the pops – which brought to mind this laidback number from German singer Vera Palm. It fitted the moment perfectly. The track was issued as the B-side to Am Abend, Vera’s cover of Italian singer Isabella Iannetti’s Corriamo, issued in 1967. Sunday love had been penned by Rudi Lindt (better known under his real name, Rudi von der Dovenmühle) and Francis Coppieters. It finds Vera wishing away the week, waiting for her Sunday love. On days like this, we know what she means.