Call her Miss Markan. French singer Annie Markan was the lead vocalist of girl group Les Gam’s who was then promoted Diana Ross-style ahead of her three band mates before embarking on a solo career. The group recorded countless covers of US hits, and as a soloist, Annie relied heavily on Anglophone numbers too, recording versions of Len Barry’s 1-2-3, Lulu and the Luvvers’ Satisfied and The Exciters’ Run mascara, amongst others. Our choice, though, is an original French composition taken from her final solo EP.
Ma perchè lo fai
We’ll be doing a complete biography of Italian singer Anna Marchetti for October, but in the meantime, we thought we’d give you a taster of what’s currently on repeat on our Dansette record player. From 1964, a string of releases on the Meazzi label showed her ability to take on quite a variety of material. For us, this dramatic number, which was consigned to the B-side of Anna’s sickly sweet entry to the 1966 San Remo song festival, Io ti amo, is one of her very best.
Picture me gone
Honorary Brit girl Madeline Bell is probably best known for her part in late-1960s/early 1970s combo Blue Mink. But we’ll forgive her that for this fab track alone. Born in Newark, New Jersey, Madeline left the US for the UK in the early 1960s. When she wasn’t providing backing vocals for the likes of Dusty Springfield and Kiki Dee, she managed to record a clutch of her own 45s and a couple of LPs. Our pick is a cover of an Evie Sands track. Though it died upon release in 1967, it later found favour on Britain’s Northern soul dance scene. (There’s a great video on YouTube of her performing it.)
Ninguno me puede juzgar
When British star Petula Clark gave up recording in Spanish after issuing just one EP, it left the door open for home-grown señoritas to take her place. Step forward Gelu, whose repertoire included versions of Downtown, My love, Don’t sleep in the subway, Colour my world, Call me, This is my song... well, you get the picture. Here she takes a break from Pet’s pops with a cover of Italian singer Caterina Caselli’s fabulous 1966 chart-topper Nessuno mi può giudicare. Gelu’s career was on the wane by the time she released this, but no matter: it’s still great.
Step by Step & Lea
German readers will know this song in its original version, Marmor, Stein und Eisen bricht, a huge hit for Drafi Deutscher in late 1965. This English-language cover, however, is unlikely to have surfaced on many people’s radars. It was recorded by Danish group Step by Step in early 1967 and featured Lea (Rasmussen) on vocals. Aged 18, she had joined the Esbjerg-based group for their debut stage appearance – as the warm-up act for British group The Hollies, no less. Sadly for us, she left the group shortly afterwards, and later swapped her musical aspirations for a place at university.
Messer, Gabel, Schere, Licht
Greek-born singer Vicky moved to Germany as a child. In the summer of 1965, she scored her first hit, with our pick. She issued a number of top quality releases over the next couple of years and gained international acclaim for her 1967 Eurovision song contest entry, L’amour est bleu (later a huge hit worldwide for Paul Mauriat and his Orchestra). With the addition of a surname, Leandros, to signify her maturity, she continued to enjoy great success, though, arguably, with the sole exception of her 1972 Eurovision winner, Après toi, nothing she recorded after 1967 is worth seeking out.