Was gefällt dir so an ihr
Born on 23 July 1946, 20-year-old Bessy Hemmer had a wealth of performing experience under her belt before entering the contest Der grosse Start. She had been lead singer with beat group Die Spitfires in her home town of Cologne after standing in at the last minute for the group’s original (male) singer when he did a bunk. Though she finished runner up in the talent contest, the diminutive singer – she stood just 1.5 metres (4’ 11”) tall – made a big impression on label bosses at EMI’s Electrola subsidiary. They signed her up and issued her Niemals wird der Löwe zahm in 1966. But it’s the B-side – a version of Brit girl Beryl Marsden’s What’s she got – that really cooks.
La Ragazza del Clan
Long before the term ‘marketing’ was ever coined, La Ragazza del Clan was the object of a rather clever marketing ploy: her identity was kept a closely guarded secret. Even when she made her TV debut in 1964 – performing the hit Eh! Gia… (Lasciami entrar) – she was obscured behind frosted glass to prevent her from being identified. Further top quality releases followed, including our choice, which was composed by Van McCoy and issued the following year. Ultimately, the singer was revealed to be... oh, actually, let’s make believe it’s 1964 all over again. So, if you don’t know already, we’ll leave you in suspense until next month, when we’ll publish a full page on the mystery singer.
Back with you baby
Sex bomb Tracy Rogers had an air of Brigitte Bardot about her, and both worked as actresses and singers. The major difference was that Brigitte was hugely successful while Tracy languished in obscurity. The fact that, of the pair, only Tracy could hold a tune must have been cold comfort for the Briton. She is perhaps best known for her version of the Sorrows’ Baby, on which she is thought to be have been backed by Les Fleur de Lys. Our pick, though, is her follow up, from 1967. This track is now widely available on the long-awaited The girls are at it again compilation of UK beat girl tracks.
Often overlooked by yé-yé fans because of her later, more traditional material, French singer Nicoletta nevertheless recorded some great pop and soul numbers in the early years. This tune is a case in point. It comes from her wonderful La musique EP. The lead song was a cover of the Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil-penned Angelica, and gave her a top ten hit in the early autumn of 1967. The release is also noteworthy for its other tracks, particularly Vis ta vie, a superb version of Shirley Ellis’ dance floor favourite Soul time.
I’ve been wrong before
This month sees the release of a ton of material by Cilla. Top of our wish list are the album of club remixes of her old songs by the likes of those boyz at Almighty and the first-ever music DVD of her TV performances from the 1960s and 70s. The Liverpudlian star was known for belting out a tune, though here she gives a more restrained vocal. The song was written by American composer Randy Newman, and he says that Cilla’s interpretation is the best version he’s ever heard of the song. It’s certainly one of her very finest performances. We love it.
Quiero romper tus cartas
Spanish singer Ivana was born María Rosario Gaspar Díaz in Malaga in August 1946. In 1965 her record company put her ¡Qué bueno, qué bueno! forward for the national final to choose a song to represent Spain at the Eurovision song contest, though broadcaster TVE opted to have Conchita Bautista perform the song instead. Conchita won in Barcelona but finished way behind France Gall in Naples. Ivana got over her disappointment and went on to issue a number of singles and EPs over the following four years, before quitting music for journalism. Our pick is from 1968.