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Brigitt: Lass die Hände von Bill Bailey
Translating international hits into domestic languages was a common practice in the 1960s that has largely died out now. Sometimes the approach was to translate the songs as literally as possible, to retain their original sense. Other times, writers came up with lyrics which bore no relation to those of the original but which worked well with the melody. This track from east German-born Brigitt Petry falls somewhere between the two. In it, Brigitt warns off another girl who’s got her eye on her fella. In the original, You’ve been talkin’ ‘bout me baby, however, New Zealand’s Gale Garnett tells her former boyfriend where to go. Yet the songs share moments of similarity – such as when both girls send their adversaries home to their mothers. Equally, despite the catchiness of the tune, neither singer issued the song as an A-side. Shame.
Val McKenna: Sweet sweet loving
If Motown is as American as apple pie, then this track, with its distinctly British take on the sound, should be considered an aural apple crumble. Val McKenna was one of Britain’s few female singer-songwriters back in the 1960s. She wrote and recorded a number of her own terrific compositions – among the best is 1965’s Now that you’ve made up your mind. Four years later came this tasty helping of late 1960s pop. You can easily imagine a group such as The Paper Dolls recording this. As it was, Val cut it herself and it became the B-side of 1969’s It’s all in my imagination, which, as it happens, was another of Val’s own works.
Lysiane Loren: C’est notre histoire
France’s Lysiane Loren was just 15 when she caught the eye of bosses at the Bel Air record label. She was spotted performing at the Rock party at Paris’ Golf Drouot alongside acts such as les Aiglons, les Champions and Evy. Just two months later, in November 1963, her first EP hit the record shops. It led with our choice, C’est notre histoire – originally True confession, for Sue Thompson. A second disc, Dis-moi maman, was issued in mid-1964. Both songs have gone on to become popular choices with fans of the popcorn genre, though Lysiane herself disappeared, long before ever she turned 17.
Vanja Stojković: Lažeš
There’s a somewhat lazy tendency in the West to lump Yugoslavia in with the rest of Cold War eastern Europe. Yes, it was a communist state, but it was far more open that many of its Soviet-controlled neighbours to the north and east. This outside influence may go some way to explaining the similarity between this charming track from Serbia’s Vanja Stojković and almost anything of the period by Petula Clark. Subotica-born Vanja was briefly part of Duo DD before gaining a solo contract in 1965. Our pick, taken from the Ja volim svoj dom EP, was issued in December 1966. She continued to record well into the 1970s. Whether she is the same Vanja Stojković who appeared in 2011’s criticially acclaimed film Josef, a drama about an Austrian-Hungarian Croat soldier during the first world war, we couldn’t say – we haven’t seen it. But if you know, please leave a comment below.
Julie Grant: Giving up
Performances don’t come much more dramatic than this. In fact, we reckon our Julie’s version knocks the original recording by Gladys Knight into a cocked hat. There, we’ve said it. (Sorry, Gladys.) The song is more sophisticated than some of Julie’s earlier material – and with these vocals and the song’s pedigree, it would have been reasonable to assume airplay could be assured. However, her record label, Pye, already two had big stars on its hands, Petula Clark and Sandie Shaw, so Julie’s work suffered from a noticeable lack of promotion.
Iva Zanicchi: Mi chercherai
What a voice. Italian singer Iva Zanicchi shot to fame in 1964 with her soulful stylings. Here, she delivers the exquisite Mi chercherai. The song was issued as the B-side to her 1965 Canzone per l’estate song contest entry, Accarezzami amore. It also appeared on the singer’s eponymously titled debut LP. Written by frequent collaborators Memo Remigi and Alberto Testa, the track is decidedly better than the A-side, in our opinion. Iva would go on to become the queen of San Remo – making more appearances at the Italian song contest than ever she would at the European Parliament after she became an MEP in 2008. Mind you, she was representing bunga-bunga buffoon Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, so maybe her poor attendance was for the best.