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Rita Monico: Non è mai tardi
At last Italy’s female singers of the 1960s are getting some respect – and not just on this website. Those lovely people at RPM Records have released the Ciao bella! CD, a compilation of 24 great girl tracks. On it you’ll find some terrific songs from the likes of Rita Pavone, Caterina Caselli and Mina, to name just three. You’ll also find our pick, Rita Monico’s Non è mai tardi, her take on The Shangri-Las’ Dressed in black. As it happens, the 45 is one of several we lent to RPM so that they could make the album. If you buy your copy from Amazon, we get a kickback, which helps this site keep going.
Barbara Ruskin: Song without end
Hands up if you like Motown. Yes, thought so. We reckon Barbara Ruskin wasn’t averse to a bit of reaching out and stopping in the name of love either. The London-born singer-songwriter clearly took a little inspiration from Detroit when she penned this stompy dance number. That’s no bad thing in our book. Issued in 1966, we reckon the song is one of her finest. Why it failed to connect with the record-buying public is anyone’s guess.
France Gall: Celui que j’aime
There’s been a trend in France in recent years for current artists to cover the hits of stars from yesteryear. The Jean-Jacques Goldman and Charles Aznavour tributes spring to mind. France Gall has fallen within the radar too. Unfortunately, however, she was none too pleased. Reality show winner Jenifer issued Ma declaration, her 12-track homage to the singer, claiming she had been given the green light from Ms Gall… only to be contradicted by the singer herself. Here at RSG Towers, we’ve ignored Jenifer’s release altogether, preferring to stick with the original chanteuse. Here’s one of our favourites from her catalogue, Celui que j’aime, a tale with a sting in its, er, tail.
The Hearts of Soul: Waterman
To underestimate the importance of the Eurovision song contest for giving publicity to up-and-coming performers would be a mistake. While the contest has often been derided, there’s no doubt that representing your country can give you a career that will last decades. Take the Dutch group The Hearts of Soul, who took part in the 1970 contest with the laid-back, groovy Waterman on home turf in Amsterdam. The sisters, Bianca, Stella and Patricia Maessen, didn’t win with their Aquarius-themed number but that didn’t stop them continuing to perform collectively and individually for many years. Indeed, the group cut a single as recently as 2010.
Lesley Gore: Goodbye, Tony
Here’s American teen star Lesley Gore performing the German version of her hit You don’t own me. Fifty years ago, re-recording your hits in other languages was a fashionable thing to do. Sadly, it’s no longer deemed necessary. Mind you, 50 years ago, being openly lesbian in the world of pop wasn’t the done thing either, as Lesley Gore well knew. Some things have changed for the better. (If you like foreign-language versions of US hits, you might be interested to know that we’re planning a tribute special to American pop princesses and soul sisters for later this year. Check back each month or sign up for our newsletter via the homepage if you want to be among the first to know more.)
Antoinette: I’m for you
When you think of Brit girl Antoinette, chances are you think of her tear-jerking There he goes (the boy I love) or the bratty Jenny let him go. Our pick, I’m for you, often gets overlooked. It is, of course, a cover of a 45 by US singer Carla Thomas. Essex girl Antoinette cut it for the flip of her 1966 single Lullaby of love, another cover, this time of a hit for The Poppies. It’s not as soulful as the original but it has a decidedly British charm all of its own.