In 1965, Italian girl group Le Amiche cut five singles and an album. The wholesome foursome also took part in a couple of song contests. However, their success was modest and by 1966, they found themselves without a recording contract.
The group comprised four girls, Annamaria Bellot Romanet, Giusy Francia and sisters Graziella and Silvana Masone. The sisters met the group members while they were all studying at a music conservatory in Rome, and they became friends – hence their stage name.
They landed a recording contract with the Jolly label and were asked to back established star Remo Germani on stage at the San Remo song festival in January 1965. At the time, the practice was for two artists – one domestic and one international – to perform each song, and Germani and the girls found themselves competing against German-born Audrey with Prima o poi.
The song made it through to the final of the contest but didn’t win. Nevertheless, it went on to make the top ten of the Italian charts, reaching number eight in February that year.
The group swiftly issued a 45 of their own, Se mi vuoi un pò di bene, to capitalise on their success. The song was a cover of The Dixie Cups’ Phil Spector/Ellie Greenwich/Jeff Barry-penned US chart topper Chapel of love. It proved an inspired choice, suiting the group’s gentle vocal style and butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-their-mouths image.
It was backed with the charmingly laid-back Un giorno o l’altro. The girls were rewarded with a second hit for their efforts, with the disc reaching number 33 in the charts.
The follow up, Per una rosa, proved a disappointment when it failed to make the top 40. A cover of a second Dixie Cups track, People say, was recorded for the B-side. Although Quello che la gente dirà was a song that they had previously been known to perform on stage, the decision to release it suggested that perhaps bosses at Jolly didn’t know quite what to do with the group.
In the early summer of 1965, the group entered the Disco per l’estate contest. However, their Divertiamoci, failed to impress the judges and finished nowhere.
They went on to cut two further singles, Basta con i ricordi and Terry (a version of Brit girl Twinkle’s ‘death disc’ of the same name), before issuing an LP.
The album included their singles and a couple of new tracks, one of which was a third cover of a third Dixie Cups hit – You should have seen the way he looked at me, retitled Se avessi visto quando mi guardava.
Disappointingly, a lack of sales spelt the end of the girls’ recording careers.
With thanks to Matthew Meek for additional sound files and to Mondo ribelle for additional research.