Silvana Velasco was the dream ye-yé singer – in more ways than one. The Spanish teenager’s beauty gave her a head start over her competitors and she was already known to the public through her film work. However, despite some quality releases, she never really rose to the top of Spain’s pop ranks.
She was born Silvana Rosa Caravera Nuñez on 8 September 1947 in Madrid.
In the early 1960s, she began her professional career as an actress, appearing in films such as La pandilla de los once, Siempre es domingo and Todas eran culpables.
Her good looks caught the attention of bosses at the Columbia label, and in 1962 she was offered a recording contract. However, when her first EP, El ascensor, failed, she switched to Fundador to issue Eres exigente in 1963. But this proved no more successful.
It wasn’t until she signed to Zafiro in 1964 that she really found her feet.
Although she cut a few singles for the label that year, the four-track EP format was more popular at the time, and her first was a cracker. The French-inspired ye-yé style had become popular by this time and songs didn’t come much more ye-yé than the EP’s lead track, Si encuentras a mi amor.
The follow up was even better, and is considered by many fans as the highlight of Silvana’s recording career. Leading with a great version of Dusty Springfield’s I only want to be with you, Ahora te puedes marchar, the EP also included Busca una excusa, Ella está contigo and La más bella del baile (her take on Sylvie Vartan’s La plus belle pour aller danser).
Although the lead track was a cover of a UK hit, Silvana’s music often borrowed from the Italian stars, and for her third EP she cut four versions of songs from Italy’s 1965 San Remo song festival. They included takes on Bobby Solo’s winning entry, Se piangi, se ridi (Si lloras, si ríes) and Prima o poi, which had been performed at the contest by Remo Germani with Le Amiche and by Audrey.
She returned to the Brit girl catalogue for her second EP of the year, with Sé de un lugar, a version of Petula Clark’s I know a place, as its lead track.
She cut one further EP for Zafiro, Si no te tuviera más, before being dropped by the label.
Theoretically, Silvana was the perfect ye-yé singer. She was already known to the public for her films, and her prettiness and up-to-the-minute fashion sense caught the eye of young and old alike. However, her sexiness failed to translate musically during her time at the label.
In 1967 she joined RCA, where she was put under the wing of songwriter José Luis Navarro. Un domingo became her first release for the new label. The song had been taken from the soundtrack of the film Amor a la española and remains Silvana’s best-known single. (The B-side was No es muy tarde, an emotional version of The Shangri-Las’ Dressed in black.)
Marionetas en la cuerda, a version of Sandie Shaw’s Eurovision winner, Puppet on a string, proved a disastrous follow up, as it lost out in a sales war with umpteen other versions, including ones by the Briton herself and by Betina.
Further singles, A la playa vas (which she had performed at the Benidorm song festival), Hush and Llama al sol (another Benidorm song festival entry), followed over the next 18 months, while appearances on TV helped keep her in the public eye.
Interestingly, 1968’s Una sola verdad has become more popular for its B-side, Dime, dime, a version of Amen Corner’s hit Bend me, shape me. But it proved her last release for RCA.
Over the coming years, she enjoyed brief stays at Iberofón and Euterpe, and in the early 1970s she enjoyed renewed popularity with versions of Clodagh Rodgers’ Jack in the box, retitled Caja de sorpresas, and Lynn Anderson’s Rose garden, Jardin de rosas.
In 1976, she cut a further single, Country pie.