To mark our third birthday and the new-look Ready steady girls!, girl group expert Matthew Meek from the Bubblegum soup blog has joined us as guest editor this month. Read all about his pick of the pops below – and you can vote for your favourite or comment on these great tracks using the forms at the foot of the page.
If you’d like to be a guest editor one month, get in touch. You don’t have to be a music industry professional, just someone with a passion for 1960s European girl singers. (And if English isn’t your first language, don’t worry, we can help.)
Sha la la la la
Formed as the beat boom began in Italy in 1965, Le Snobs were another guitar-toting girl group made up of three sisters (Annamaria, Ornella and Renata Guisti) and a mutual friend (Gianna Raffa) who all hailed from Desenzano del Garda, a town in the Brescia region of Italy. Managed by the sisters’ papa, who himself was a well-regarded musician, they embarked on their musical career with their first 45, Amore ti ricordi/La storia di Johnny McRea on the Durium label, which garnered some moderate success, selling some 50,000 copies. Next came Non ci pensare più/Ritorneranno i giorni belli later that year – notable for its cover featuring the ladies scooting on some go-karts while clutching their instruments. The final release that year was the featured Sha la la la la. Three more releases followed, including a version of the Ikettes’ Peaches ‘n’ cream – similarly released by previously featured Italian girl band The Honeybeats at the same time.
The Other Two
I'll never let you go
One of the more interesting female duos to emerge from the UK was The Other Two, Caroline Attard and Jemima Smith. Their first foray into recording came with the release I wanna be with you/Grumbling guitar in 1964, produced by the legendary Charles Blackwell – the man behind many a Brit girl and the occasional French chanteuse. Around this time they also recorded a Jackie de Shannon track entitled Breakdown baby, but it was withheld from release due to its ‘controversial’ lyrical content. Their very much tongue-in-check rendition of Don't you wanna love me baby is a Goffin/King original, and one that really hits the spot. Released as their second single in 1965, the flip also features a version of US girl group The Tammys’ Hold back the light of dawn. Finally, a third and final release cropped up the following year, I'll never let you go, a storming Northern soul number written and produced by American soul artist JJ Jackson and backed by an original, Not at night, written by member Jemima.
School friends The Butterflies banded together in the Danish town of Rokskilde circa 1965, and like many, were inspired to do so after falling for the Fab Four. Karin Borre took drum duty, Kathe Sievert strummed rhythm guitar and provided vocals, while Gitte Christensen played guitar and Anne Thorboe wielded the bass. Their name came from their music teacher who proclaimed that they held their guitars too lightly... like ‘butterflies’ – hah! After a few initial gigs in 1966 they eventually played in Sweden and Norway and toured successfully in their home country for the next couple of years. 1968 saw the departure of Karin, who was replaced by Mette Jensen after the girls saw her standing in for her brother in his band after he crashed his moped. A year later they finally recorded a single on the Sonet label, Vores skøre sommerhus/Kom kom, of which we offer up the latter, an enjoyable ode to being young and having a good dance or two in summertime and originally recorded by Norwegian songstress Wenche Myhre. A subsequent release under the name Kate and the Butterflies (Hvis nu sandheden skal frem/Kom igen til mig) managed to reach number 12 in the charts. The girls disbanded in 1970 after a few more gigs and reunited briefly in 1994 for a one-off event.
One of the foremost UK-based girl bands was the collective known as She Trinity. Originally founded by two Canadians (Robin Yorke and Shelly Gillespie), an American (Sue Kirby) and a Brit (Pauline Moran), the group’s first release came with an excellent and recently compiled rendition of He fought the law on Columbia records, with prolific producer Mickie Most at the helm. After the addition of member Marion Hill they cut ace beat original Wild flower – deemed worthy enough to appear on two releases. After a few more line-up and name changes, including the fab Beryl Marsden, the group called it a day in 1974.
MAK Les Soeurs
Kärlek finns det överallt
Another Scandinavian band take the form of three Swedish lovelies by the name of MAK Les Soeurs – the name being derived from each of the girls’ first initials, (M)argareta Hamrefors, (A)gneta Wigforss and (K)arin Hamrefors. All three played guitar and together they landed a record deal after moving to Gothenburg around 1966. From their quite considerable output one highlight is their hearty rendition of Lovers of the world unite, originally by David and Jonathan. In the early 1970s the girls decided to invest their time in other professions, and the band dissolved. Karin continued to work as a music teacher, while Agneta trained as a primary school teacher and Margaret moved to Denmark to train to become a designer. Karin has over the years been subjected to pressure from the other members to make a comeback – let’s hope they pull it off!
Composed of Italian sisters Flavia and Rosanna Baldassari, La Metamorfosi released the single Ed ho idea/Scusa, eh! in 1969 on the Polydor label. The featured flip in particular is an outstandingly catchy beat-psych-fuzz classic. Sadly, this was the girls’ only release as outright artists, but they continued to work as backing singers for other Italian artists. Flavia also went on to provide vocals for the group Simon Luca & L’Enorme Maria.