Reviews

Beryl Marsden – Changes: The story of Beryl Marsden
That it has taken 50 years in the business for Beryl Marsden finally to be honoured with a ‘best of’ CD should be considered no reflection on this fine singer. A few of her songs – such as Break-a-way and Mod favourite What’s she got (that I ain’t got) – have turned up on compilation CDs over the years, but most have remained available on vinyl only until now. This has made them hard for fans to find, let alone to afford. This CD rectifies that. It includes all her solo sides at Decca and Columbia in the 1960s, as well as rare live recordings at The Cavern and her work as part of The Shotgun Express. The later releases, 1979’s Sad songs (under the name Lynn Jackson) and 1981’s post-punk I video, as well as her recent singles, also prove immensely listenable. The CD has been released by RPM, so it comes with the informative booklet you would expect of the label. The surprise about a compilation of Beryl Marsden’s work is not that should be so good, but why there hasn’t been one before now.

Beat Fräuleins – Female pop in Germany 1964-1968
A compilation bringing together some of the best German girl pop of the 1960s has been long overdue. Now, Bureau B – the label behind the great Funky Fräuleins collections (see below) – have taken the first step in rectifying that. They have even roped in regular Ready steady girls! contributor Jens Keller to guide them and to provide the sleeve notes. He puts the belated recognition of the German girl singers’ worth down to the fact that they weren’t as cool as their British contemporaries or as sexy as their French ones. But he urges the listener to step back and recognise their charms all the same. Following his advice proves rewarding. From big hits such as Marion’s Er ist wieder da to little-known gems such as Brigitt Petry’s ...Da beisst ein Goldfisch an, this reappraisal begins to repair the German girls’ international reputation. We’re hoping it’s just the start – and keeping our fingers crossed for a second, third and fourth volume...

The Caravelles – You don’t have to be a baby to cry: The complete Caravelles 1963-1968
With their oh-so-gentle harmonies, The Caravelles provided a counterbalance to the beat sounds emerging from Britain in 1963. Their reworking of an old Ernie Ford B-side, You don’t have to be a baby to cry, took the duo into the top ten on both sides of the Atlantic. Its success prompted a slot as support act for The Beatles in their very first live concert in the US. The pair – Andrea Simpson and Lois Wilkinson – also proved themselves decent songwriters, as this new ‘best of’ CD from the RPM label amply demonstrates. (Lois would later be replaced by Lynne Hamilton, who would go on to enjoy success with the theme from cult TV series Prisoner cell block H.) The CD includes the A- and B-sides of all nine UK singles, plus songs from their sole LP and four bonus German tracks.

Suzie Tullett: Going underground
Over the years there have been any number of Mod-themed novels, but most have been full of one-dimensional characters and cliché-ridden plots. So Suzie Tullett’s Going underground makes for a refreshing change. The story centres on Jonathan, a former Mod, and Tracey, his heavily pregnant wife. The funeral of an old friend kick starts the action, prompting Jonathan to tackle his past demons. Tracey, meanwhile, is desperate to uncover the secret from his Mod days. There ensues a dash from one end of the country to the other, with Jonathan on a scooter and Tracey in hot pursuit in a classic mini. Both characters are fallible and their story quickly engages the reader. The novel is well paced, and has enough musical references to appeal to Mods. But at its heart is a human-interest story that will intrigue any reader.

¡Chicas! Spanish female singers 1962-1974
Spain’s female singers of the 1960s have been growing in popularity in recent years. You only have to check out this great new compilation to understand why. They’ve always played third fiddle to the British and French girls of the period, and an appreciation of their charms (outside of this website, of course) is long overdue. This collection, available in both CD and vinyl formats, brings together 24 gems from the early 1960s to the mid-1970s. It comes with a lavish booklet – in both Spanish and English – that gives background information on each of the singers and songs. You’ll find artists that feature on this site, such as Alicia Granados, Lorella, Los Stop, Marisel, Marisol, Marta Baizán, Pili y Mili and Sonia, and plenty more. If you’ve fancied delving into the music of Spain’s ye-yé girls, this CD offers you the chance to do so at a very reasonable price.

Louise Cordet – The sweet beat of Louise Cordet: Complete UK Decca records
At last there’s now a ‘best of’ Louise Cordet compilation. In fact, this 24-track CD is more thorough than that – it contains all of her UK releases and all but one of her French recordings. From her debut 45, I’m just a baby, through to her final single, a version of Dionne Warwick’s Don’t make me over, the CD chronicles the career of the little-known singer. One of the CD’s highlights is Don’t let the sun catch you crying, which had been written for Louise by Gerry Marsden. When her version failed, he and his Pacemakers took the song into the UK top ten. (Louise cut a French version too, Laisse le soleil sécher tes larmes, which is also included on the compilation.) The input of songwriter Jerry Lordan and producer Tony Meehan (a former Shadow) is clear in some of the tracks, with Louise sounding like a female Cliff Richard. Costing less than a tenner, this CD is worth buying.

SoulBoy 
Attempting to recreate the Wigan Casino was a brave move. But most fans agree that director Shimmy Marcus has pulled it off – probably due in no small part to the involvement of former Wigan DJ Kev Roberts and others. The casino was one of the centres of Britain’s northern soul scene in the 1970s and is, arguably, the most famous. In this film, Martin Compston plays Joe, whose lust for hairdresser Jane (Nichola Burley) has him trekking to Wigan for the all-night dances. The boy-meets-girl storyline is sweet, if a little unoriginal, but it is the casino atmosphere itself that is the real star of the film. (It was actually filmed in the King’s Hall in Stoke.) The soundtrack, too, is first class, and if you don’t know much about northern soul, the CD is definitely worth buying. (You may also be interested to know we’ll be publishing a northern soul special in April, featuring the best of the Brit girl tracks to have filled the dance floors of northern England.)

Funky Fräuleins 2
This excellent CD is the second excursion into the world of female groove and funk from the late 1960s through to the early 1980s. The bilingual (English/German) compilation has been put together with the help of Ready steady girls! contributor Jens Keller. One of his choices, the excellent Sunny honey from Uschi Moser, kicks off the collection superbly. There are other artists site visitors will recognise, including Joy Fleming, Lill Lindfors, Peggy March and Caterina Valente. The CD closes with another top track, Can’t understand, recorded in Germany in 1969 by a certain Donna Gaines, who would find worldwide stardom in the 1970s as Donna Summer. A must-buy for funk fans.

Modesty Blaise
If you like 1960s thrillers but find that the likes of James Bond just aren’t camp enough for your tastes, you’re in luck. This comedy caper, released in cinemas in 1966, is based – somewhat loosely – on Peter O’Donnell’s popular comic strip. The action takes place largely in Amsterdam’s canal district and in some fabulous pop-art sets. Italy’s Monica Vitti takes the title role, with Terence Stamp as her handsome sidekick, Willie Garvin. Modesty is hired by the British intelligence to foil a plan to steal a stash of diamonds that are being used to secure a Middle Eastern oil deal. But the twists and turns of the plot are, arguably, secondary to Modesty’s ever-changing hairdos. And if you disregard the wigs’ performances, the real stars of the film are arch criminal Gabriel (played by Dirk Bogarde) and Mrs Fothergill (Rosella Falk).

C’est chic! – French girl singers of the 1960s
We have to admit we’re biased here. First off, when Ace Records release a new compilation CD, you know you’re in for a treat. Secondly – and perhaps more importantly – much of the information presented in the sleeve notes is from this website. Musically, this tribute to the French girl singers of the 1960s will please newcomers to the genre and fans alike. With tracks by big stars, including France Gall, Françoise Hardy and Sheila, and lesser known yé-yé girls, such as Alice Dona, Charlotte Leslie and Jocelyne, there’s something for everyone. Where this CD comes into its own is by making available hard-to-find gems, such as Louise Cordet’s L’amour tourne en rond, Ria Bartok’s Tu la revois and Liz Brady’s Il suffit d’un jour. Definitely worth buying. Ace also has plans for further Euro girl comps, and we’re salivating at the very prospect.

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