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Nancy Holloway: Le plus bel amour
Can I get a witness, I heard it through the grapevine and What’s going on are three of my favourite Marvin Gaye singles. However, I never really cared for his You’re a wonderful one – until I heard this version by Nancy Holloway. The Paris-based Américaine favoured these Motown numbers, and enjoyed success with takes on The Contours’ Do you love me, and Mary Wells’s US chart topper My guy. If you like Motown too, check out our tributes to the label’s female singers and groups and male soloists and groups, where you’ll find more great cover versions.
Antoinette: Jenny let him go
Essex girl Marie Antoinette Daly landed a recording contract with London’s Decca label at a mere 13 years of age. Issued in January 1964, Jenny let him go became her debut single. It was produced by Charles Blackwell, the man behind many great Brit girl discs of the period. The song suited Antoinette’s adolescent vocals to a tee. However, it failed to sell and the singer switched to the Piccadilly label for her next single – another Blackwell composition, There he goes (the boy I love).
Wilma Goich: Le formiche
When Lucio Battisti penned Le formiche for Wilma Goich, few could have predicted that he would go on to become one of Italy’s biggest stars of the 1970s. If they had, they might have made the song the A-side of this 1968 single, rather than its flip. As it is, Tu cuore mio is nowhere near as good as this ode to ants. Wilma’s career was on the slide by the time of its release, and it wasn’t until the early 1970s when she teamed up professionally with her husband, Edoardo Vianello, that she enjoyed renewed success. Songs such as Semo gente de borgata in 1972 and Canto d’amore di Homeide in 1973 proved big hits for the duo I Vianella.
Heidi Brühl: Berlin
This track scores highly with the cool crowd. It was recorded in London in 1969 and has gone on to become a dance floor favourite. It is a world away from the middle-of-the-road material Heidi had been recording beforehand. However, it was issued only as the B-side of the distinctly average The drifter. Within a year, Heidi had moved to the US and taken up a year-long engagement at the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas. While in the US, she would also star alongside Clint Eastwood in the 1975 film The Eiger sanction.
Iris Zegveld: Ik ken je beter, Peter
Not much is known about Dutch doll Iris Zegveld. It’s said she came from the town of Laren and was 21 years old when she recorded this number in 1966. Our pick, the charming Ik ken je beter, Peter, is another B-side – it’s the flip of her one and only 45, De sleutelring. When the song failed to attract much attention, she was dropped by the Relax record label. It is claimed that Iris died in 2007, but I cannot confirm this.
The Satin Bells: Da di da da
This month sees the 59th Eurovision song contest take place. Copenhagen is hosting, thanks to Danish singer Emmelie de Forest’s convincing win last year with Only teardrops. It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly 50 years since yé-yé girl France Gall won with Poupée de cire, poupée de son for Luxembourg in 1965. The tiny principality won’t enjoy a repeat of that win this year – it hasn’t taken part since 1993. Nevertheless, here we honour Mademoiselle Gall with a take on one of her later releases, Dady da da, by British girl group The Satin Bells, imaginatively retitled Da di da da.