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Cléo’s EPs Les fauves and Ce n’est qu’un au revoir, mes sœurs have Gallic girl pop fans salivating. Our pick is from a later release, A mes bottes, and the song was written by Cléo herself. Copies of the EP don’t come available often these days and a decent one is unlikely to leave a buyer much change out of €60. Also included on the EP was Un dur au cœur tendre, which had been written by Herbert Léonard, the man Cléo went on to marry. The singer quit the music business and is said to have gone on to work in tourism. Pity.
Something’s got a hold on me
One of the travel companies – we won’t name them as we wouldn’t want to dignify the concept of an ‘all-inclusive’ holiday – has been using a version of this song in their TV ads. Perhaps, like us, they’ve wanted to mark the recent death of Etta James. We’ve roped in Elkie Brooks to do it on our behalf. The Manchester-born singer issued her take on Etta’s Something’s got a hold on me as her debut single back in 1964. Thing is, the song was a risky choice at the time. Its gospel intro was not a sound that British record buyers were overly familiar with. Perhaps that explains why it disappeared faster than a free glass of sangria in Benidorm...
Le ragazze semplici
A win at the Un disco per l’estate in 1965 with Tu sei quello gave Orietta Berti her first big hit. The song swept up the Italian charts, reaching number two in July that year. It also marked the beginning of a change in style – from then on, big ballads were in. Sadly, that left her pop efforts consigned to B-sides. In this case, the beat gem Le ragazze semplici lingered on the reverse of the ballad Voglio dirti grazie, her winning song from the Rose festival of 1965. However, the latter song flopped and we can’t help but wonder what might have been if her record label had dared to issue this track as the A-side instead.
Como si nada
Mary Gema was one of Spain’s most soulful singers but her recording career proved disappointly short. She was born in Tangier, Morocco, and later earned a name for herself singing live for the Cadena SER radio network. In 1964, she was offered a contract with the Fonópolis label. She switched to Philips the following year, and our pick is taken from her third – and final – EP there, Necesito. Our favourite track is this one, Como si nada, a cover of Mine de rien, a French song by Eurasian singer Bébé Suong. Mary finally called a day on her singing career in 1975 after being overlooked for the role of Mary Magdalen in a stage version of the musical Jesus Christ superstar.
Kiss me again
We spent the New Year in the Dordogne, enjoying the wine, cheese and escargots – all to the soundtrack of France’s yé-yé girls, of course. Sheila’s massive 1967 hit Adios amor was a regular on our playlist, and we were reminded just how good the song is. It was issued in an attempt to salvage the squeaky-clean singer’s reputation after she was rumoured to be having an affair with a married man. But that’s another story – see our Sheila profile, if you’re interested. Anyway, this is the British version, courtesy of Marilyn Powell. The singer cut four singles for Decca in 1964-65 and later joined CBS for this release. Issued in 1968, the 45 showcased two very different sides of the singer. The B-side, the dancefloor-friendly Something to hold on to, is probably the more highly regarded – but, hey, where are you going to hear this song if not here?
Leere Hände (und dann sind wir am Ende)
As ever, our Jens – music’s answer to Miss Marple – has come up trumps. Not only has he found this terrific track, but he’s also uncovered the identity of the body in Maria Marky’s library, as it were. The singer is, in fact, Edina Pop. She was born Marika Késmárky in Budapest, Hungary, in 1941, but became simply Maria Marky when she launched her pop career in Germany 25 years later. This was the first of three singles she released in 1966, all without success. Even after changing her name to Edina Pop at the end of the decade, her solo career didn’t amount to much. In 1979, she joined Eurovision combo Dschinghis Khan. The group are famous – nay, infamous – for their eponymous hit, a somewhat dubious tribute to Mongolia’s genocidal leader, which they performed at the contest in Jerusalem, erm, of all places...