- The Importance of Being Fabulous: In conversation with Gerry Potter - 25 November, 2014
- John Waters – Interview - 14 October, 2014
- When there’s nothing left to burn - 13 September, 2014
I never stop listening to music. I’m incapable of going more than a few minutes without caterwauling along to some song, even when sleeping. Days disappear, shifting from 45s anchored in the Jurassic Period to an offering from a fresh band hidden in the shadow of Lady Gaga’s wig. Whittling down my all-time-favourite songs could have brought about a mild nervous breakdown, so I’ve focused on five records that were ignored in the 1960s. Connoisseurs of the UK Girl Group sound will be familiar with them. The songs communicate far more sense than I could ever dream of summoning up, so I promise to keep myself from galloping away with fan-boy stutters.
Tammy St. John – Dark Shadows and Empty Hallways
The third release of a four single career, Tammy St. John’s vocal on ‘Dark Shadows and Empty Hallways’ is a prompt rescue from desiring human contact if this is the end result. A spotty teenager when she recorded the song, O-Levels got in the way of properly promoting the single and it flopped. Such a shame as it should have been No.1 for, at least, six months.
Jackie Lee – The Town I Live In
Unlike Tammy, Jackie Lee released a mountain of records on a dozen different labels between 1955 and 1973. She’s occasionally half-remembered on 70s nostalgia programmes for recording the theme tunes to Rupert The Bear and White Horses. In my humble opinion, this mini opera of suburban claustrophobia, drenched in mascara and boredom is her best effort. It’ll radiate with sense to anyone else who grew up without their own pool and chauffeur.
Samantha Jones – Don’t Come Any Closer
Samantha Jones knew how to do misery with a melody. Her perfect tones embodied the lonely dream left under pillows and this is one of my favourites. ‘Don’t Come Any Closer’ is penned by Charles Blackwell, who would go on to write songs for Shirley Bassey, Lulu, Tom Jones, Del Shannon, Dionne Warwick… and David Hasselhoff.
Julie Grant – Every Day I Have To Cry
Julie Grant started singing, semi-professionally, after winning a talent contest at a Butlin’s holiday camp in 1960 – beating none other than Helen Shapiro. ‘Every Day I Have To Cry’ is a jaunty little number considering the depressing content.
Alma Cogan – If Love Were All
Written by Dame Noël Coward, ‘If Love Were All’ first appeared in his 1929 play, Bitter Sweet. Though performed by a woman, it was a song Coward would often perform, with his tissue thin croon, in very select company. “I believe the more you love a man / the more you put your trust / the more you’re bound to lose…” Giggly Alma Cogan, after success through monochrome 50s dance halls, was considered ‘too square’ for the hip ‘n’ sexy 60s. This anthem for the lonely doesn’t sit naturally with the rest of her back catalogue. But then, every artist one day must face their work and ask if the most they have is just “a talent to amuse.”