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Where the good times are
Folk’s never been our favourite genre, but in Beverley Kutner’s case we’re prepared to be a little flexible. At the age of 16, the Coventry-born singer headed for London, where she ended up fronting The Levee Breakers. The group’s Babe I’m leaving you was produced by George Martin and released as a single on the Parlophone label in 1965. It generated interest in Beverley and she soon found herself signed to Decca, where label bosses made her debut solo 45 the first release of their Deram subsidiary. The A-side was the Randy Newman-penned Happy new year, though we reckon this track, Beverley’s own composition, would also have made a great top side. She would later work with Simon and Garfunkel, and she went on to marry John Martyn. The couple recorded two albums together before he went solo. She has since returned to the recording studios and in 2001, as Beverley Martyn, she issued the album No frills.
Dean Cooper et les Dinns
Le chant de l’amour
We have to admit we find the idea behind this record a little, well, disturbing. In 1964, US soul star Gene Chandler issued the single Just be true, featuring A song called soul on the reverse. Over in France a year later, Dean Cooper nabbed not one track but both of them and covered them for issue on an EP. That’s akin to stalking in our book. Chandler’s A-side became Sois sincère avec moi, while the flip became this, Le chant de l’amour. As you may detect from her pronunciation, Ms Cooper is also an American, and she was backed by Les Dinns on the EP. Disappointingly, though, her stay at Philips yielded just this one release.
Ma chi credi d’essere?
The B-side of this single, Un lago salato, a cover of Lesley Gore’s Off and running, is probably the better known of the two tracks. That’s largely thanks to its inclusion in volume two of the popular of the Stasera shake compilation series. However, the A-side is a corker too. Ma chi credi d’essere? was Italian singer Vanna Scotti’s entry to the 1966 Zurich song festival and was one of a number of singles she issued on the small Bentler label in the mid-1960s. Sadly, her career never really took off and she disappeared from the scene.
Mein Freund, der Baum
On the face of it, Alexandra’s contribution to the German music scene of the late 1960s may seem small. However, her impact cannot be over-estimated. Her success prompted a swathe of soundalike singers, most of whom don’t merit a second listen. Mind you, we have to admit that it has taken us years – decades, actually – to succumb to Alexandra’s charms. It seems we came somewhat late to the party – way ahead of us in the queue of adoring fans were the likes of Adamo and Udo Jürgens, both of whom recorded material written by Alexandra. Also among her admirers was Shirley Bassey, who recut the German star’s Illusionen as If I never sing another song in 1976. Pity, then, that Alexandra died in a car accident in 1969, at the height of her fame.
Over my head
We reckon Cilla’s usually at her best when she’s belting out those big, heartfelt ballads, so we’ve surprised even ourselves in choosing this uptempo track this month. Over my head was issued as the flip to What good am I?, and both sides had been penned by Mort Shuman and Kenny Lynch. This was somewhat unusual for Cilla. In a strikingly astute business move, her boyfriend (and later, husband) Bobby Willis had penned most of the singer’s B-sides – meaning that he earned 50% of the royalties. Little wonder, then, that he took over managing Cilla’s career after the death of Brian Epstein. If you fancy hearing more great songs from Cilla, there’s a brand new six-disc box set out, entitled Completely Cilla, 1963-1973, featuring five CDs and a DVD of many previously unavailable performances from her BBC TV series. The set is available to buy from Amazon and elsewhere.
We’ve picked Lorella’s pops before but this time around we’ve chosen her Algunas veces in honour of this month’s 57th Eurovision song contest. The Spanish cantante never took part in the contest – and nor did this song. But under the title Sometimes, it was originally one of the six performed by Britain’s Kathy Kirby in A song for Europe 1965. It had been written by Leslie Bricusse but, sadly, it finished in last place in the UK contest to pick an entry for the pan-European final. Nevertheless, Lorella opted to cover it for the Spanish market. Her version sticks fairly closely to the original and the result is a highly enjoyable romp.