As a seasoned reviewer and tuneful chappy of a certain age (still ravishing at 57) – five-star reviews for Ace Records CDs are something of a common occurrence. But every now and then you're reminded with a wallop to the discombobulater as to why collectors and music lovers get ants-in-their-pants when this wonderful British reissue label produces yet another CD compilation. They're just so damn good at it.
And 2016's "Love Hit Me! Decca Beat Girls 1962-1970" only hammers that point home with period aplomb. I mean take a look at that Marianne Faithfull colour shot on the cover (from the Strange Things Archives) – deeply fab, groovy and damn it - even beautiful. If I may be so bold - here are the detailed dolly birds...
UK released March 2016 (April 2016 in the USA) – "Love Hit Me! Decca Beat Girls 1962-1970 – British Girl Pop Gems From Decca Records' Matchless 1960s Roster" by VARIOUS ARTISTS on Ace Records CDCHD 1456 (Barcode 029667074629) is a CD compilation and plays out as follows (61:01 minutes):
1. I'm In Love With You – BILLIE DAVIS (from the May 1970 UK LP "Billie Davis" on Decca SKL 5029 – Stereo Mix used)
2. No! No! No! – DANA GILLESPIE (from the December 1968 US LP "Foolish Seasons" on London PS 540 – Stereo)
3. That's Right Baby – MARIANNE FAITHFULL (May 1966 UK 7" single on Decca F 12408, B-side to "Tomorrow's Calling")
4. Where The Good Times Are – BEVERLEY (30 September 1966 UK 7" single on Deram DM 101, B-side of "Happy New Year")
5. Poor Old Jimmy – TWINKLE (September 1965 UK 7" single on Decca F 12219, A)
6. Love Hit Me – THE ORCHIDS (November 1963 UK 7" single on Decca F 11785, A)
7. I Stand Accused (Of Loving You) – THE SATIN BELLS (May 1969 UK 7" single on Decca F 22937, A)
8. I Wanna Go Back There Again – TRULY SMITH (August 1967 UK 7” single on Decca F 12645, A)
9. Something Beautiful – ADRIENNE POSTER (February 1966 UK 7" single on Decca 12329, A)
10. I'll Come Running Over – LULU (from the 1965 UK LP "Something To Shout About" on Decca LK 4719,
also November 1964 debut USA 7" single as "I'll Come Running" on Parrot PAR 9714, B-side of "Here Comes The Night")
11. Hey Boy – BARRY ST JOHN (May 1965 UK 7" single on Decca F 12145, A)
12. Little Boy – GOLDIE & THE GINGERBREADS (January 1965 UK 7" single on Decca F 12070, B-side of "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat")
13. What More Do You Want – THE EXCEPTIONS (March 1965 UK 7" single on Decca F 12100, A)
14. So Hard To Be Good – LOUISE CORDET (from the 1964 UK compilation LP "Just For You" on Decca LK 4620 – Beat Album and Soundtrack to the film "Just For You")
15. Really Gonna Shake – SANDRA BARRY and THE BOYS (March 1964 UK 7" single on Decca F 11851, A)
16. The Way You Do The Things You Do – ELKIE BROOKS (January 1965 UK 7" single on Decca F 12061, A)
17. I Want You To Be My Baby – BILLIE DAVIS (August 1968 UK 7" single on Decca F 12823, A)
18. Save The Last Dance For Me – JEAN MARTIN (May 1964 UK 7" single on Decca F 11897, A)
19. Love Is Going To Happen To Me – BERYL MARSDEN (January 1964 UK 7" single on Decca F 11819, B-side of "When The Lovelight Starts Shining Thru' His Eyes")
20. Don't Make Me Mad – THE ORCHIDS (November 1963 UK 7" single on Decca F 11785, B-side of "Love Hit Me")
21. Dat's Love – THE VERNON GIRLS (Track 2 on Side 1 of the October 1962 UK 4-Track EP "The Vernon Girls" on Decca DFE 8506)
22. Don't Make Me (Fall In Love With you) – BABBITY BLUE (January 1965 UK 7" single on Decca F 12053, A)
23. Golden Lights – TWINKLE (February 1965 UK 7" single on Decca F 12076, A)
24. Hier Du Demain – MARIANNE FAITHFULL (Track 1 on Side 1 of a January 1967 French 4-Track EP on Decca 457.139 – from the film “Anna”)
NOTES: all are MONO except Tracks 1, 2, 3, 8 and 17 – which are STEREO
Beverley became Beverley Martin – wife of John Martyn
Goldie Zelkowitz of Goldie & The Gingerbreads became Genya Ravan of Ten Wheel Drive
The Exceptions and The Orchids are the same group
Sandra Barry became Alice Spring, Lead Vocalist with Slack Alice and Darling
Beryl Marsden was a vocalist in Steampacket with Rod Stewart
Not surprisingly the 20-page booklet is a sensory pleasure to behold – festooned with colour snaps of pouting 60ts glamourpusses about to take on the world (well parts of Croydon anyway). The full-page colour plates of Marianne Faithfull, Adrienne Poster, Lulu, Louise Cordet and Billie Davis are firmly in the valley of wow (never mind dolls) – while the repro'd UK 45 labels, sheet music and promo photos of the others give the whole presentation a wonderfully evocative period feel. All of this sexpot sixties glam is fleshed out with truly enlightening and hugely enjoyable liner notes from SHEILA BURGEL who hosts the "Sophisticated Boom Boom" radio show on Jersey's WFMU and runs the superlative "Cha Cha Charming" website dedicated to collecting, documenting and loving all things girl-pop. Billy Davis, Dana Gillespie and Truly Smith are all thanked for contributions as is top compilation-compiler and all round musical good guy MICK PATRICK.
The NICK ROBBINS remasters rock in all the right places – especially given the wildly variable sources and music types. This CD sounds great - particularly cool are the five Stereo cuts – three of which open the CD in fabulous style. On occasion you get little fractions of instrument distortion – but don't get me wrong – this is yet another Audio winner and song after song impresses with its power and clarity.
Dana Gillespie's cover of Michel Polnareff's "No! No! No!" turned up on her slightly Psych-Pop American-only album "Foolish Seasons" (a sought after rarity). Aged only 17 when she signed her London Records deal – her pretty-girl next-door photo on Page 5 of the booklet gives little indication of the vamp contained within. But the tune does – subtly raunchy and coy ("...he's afraid he might say yes to me...") – Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin did the Guitar and Bass honours at London's Decca Studios in West Hampstead along with Mick Vickers of Manfred Mann on Keyboards. In fact Zeppelites will be pleased to know that the two jobbing rockers turn up on another duo here - Lulu's "I'll Come Running Over" and Beverley's "Where The Good Times Are". Written by Producer Bern Barns and his wife Ilene Stuart – in her native UK the Lulu cut of "I'll Come Running Over" (title abbreviated for single) featured on her "Something To Shout About" British LP that appeared in late 1965 on Decca LK 4719 but never got a 45 release. The USA thought differently and made it the A-side of her debut US 7" single on Parrot PAR 9714 in November 1964 with her cover of Them's "Here Comes The Night" on their flip (another Bert Barns tune).
Continuing with Zeppelin and another truly stunning B-side is Beverley's barnstorming "Where The Good Times Are" – a self-penned tune Produced by Denny Cordell (the A-side was a cover of Randy Newman's "Happy New Year"). Beverly tells us in interview that both Page and Jones amped that sucker up and turned it into a hugely sought-after Freakbeat rocker. In fact Page's axe chops and gut-leanings can clearly be heard as he wigs out in a semi-Zeppelin way half way through the song (the session also featured the keyboards of Nicky Hopkins). Beverley Kutner would of course meet Glaswegian folky John Martyn – marry him and produce two albums together "Stormbringer!" and "The Road To Ruin" on Island Records in 1970 (the side-profile publicity photo of a lovely young Beverley that was used on some foreign pictures sleeves of the single is featured on Page 2). Speaking of sassy ladies and B-side starters – "Little Boy" was originally the flip of Mary Wells' Motown monster "My Guy" credited on the March 1964 US 45 as "Oh Little Boy (What Did You Do To Me)". Lead singer Goldie Zelkowitz of Goldie & The Gingerbreads shortened the title but saw their live show staple "Little Boy" relegated to the B-side of the lesser "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat". For three albums in 1969, 1970 and1971 - Goldie would morph into Genya Ravan of the Rock-Fusion band Ten Wheel Drive on Polydor Records.
Smiths fans will notice "Green Lights" by a teenage Twinkle (surname Ripley) – Morrissey covered it as a B-side on the Rough Trade 12" of "Ask" and was one of the attractions on the American "Louder Than Bombs" compilation double-album. Twinkle's 1965 original was on 45 but also featured on the "Twinkle - A Lonely Singing Doll" EP on Decca DFE 8621 which is pictured on Page 8. Her other representation here is the self-penned "Poor Old Johnny" produced by Phil Coulter (also in 1965) – a properly angst ridden melodrama. Shel Talmy penned the compilation's title track "Love Hit Me" for Georgina Oliver, Pamela Jarman and Valerie Jones collectively knows as The Orchids (later changed to The Expectations). Their 2nd 45 was touted by A&R men as England's answer to The Crystals. Along with its B-side "Don't Make Me Mad" – theses energetic Motownesque girls have attracted the attention of dancers and their 45s currently command thirty quid or more. The Satin Bells gloriously upbeat take on "I Stand Accused (Of Loving You)" was a Soulful cover of The Glories 1967 US single on Date Records 2-1553. While the original dark ladies in The Glories wore miniskirts and gold lame boots on their rare US picture sleeves – the three Bell girls were identical twins Sue and Carol with their sister Jean – blonde babes pictured on Page 19 with serious conical undergarments and a tendency to excite the male of the species (oh dear). Other girls enamoured with American Soul included Truly Smith who does a truly fabulous smooth-as-silk vocal take on "I Wanna Go Back There Again" – a Berry Gordy song given to Chris Clark whose American original 45 on V.I.P. 25041 from February 1967 is hugely sought after.
Her 4th release on Decca and produced by Immediate’s Andrew Loog Oldham – Barry St John's voice on "Hey Boy" is a wonderful smouldering Soulful thing. Written by the dynamic songwriting duo of Gerry Goffin and Carole King – it was originally Freddie Scott's first US chart success in August 1963 on Colpix 692 (a No. 10 hit). Another twenty-pound-plus 45 (if you can find one) – "Hey Boy" is a clever choice and a musical highlight here. Having failed chart wise with the name The Orchids – Decca tried a different moniker – The Exceptions. But their March 1965 hipster cover of the Ivy League's September 1964 debut British 45 "What More Do You Want" didn’t do the business either and they were dropped. Another hidden Rock Chic in here is Sandra Barry who would become Alice Spring – the front woman for Glam Rock band Slack Alice in 1974 (Polydor Records) and New Wave act Darling in 1979 (Charisma Records). Written by brother and sister Jimmy and Lesley Duncan (Lesley released highly-revered albums on CBS in the 70ts) - Beryl Marsden does a stormer on "Love Is Going To Happen To Me" and would become a vocalist in Steampacket with Rod Stewart – singing the music she loved - Soul and R&B dancers.
Speaking of Soulful Ladies - the vocal prowess of Salford's Elkie Brooks has always been a thing of wonder – famously paired with Robert Palmer for three 70ts-cool albums with Vinegar Joe on Island Records before both went onto huge and successful solo careers. Although her Decca 45 flopped at the time – British talcum-powder shakers have latched on to her cover of The Temptations classic "The Way You Do The Things You Do" - seeing it become a belated Northern Soul monster. And on it goes to Marianne Faithfull singing "Hier Du Demain" from the film "Anna" – a hugely sought after French EP that goes for big bucks. There's more of course and it's all so groovy baby...
I haven't heard a compilation as joyous and discovery-filled as this in a while. But then we expect no less from the compiler maestros in Ace Records. Pop the corks boys...another winner...you jammy gits. And God Bless all those ladies who blazed the trail back in the day...
This review is part of my SOUNDS GOOD Music Book Series. One of those titles is COOL 1960s MUSIC - an E-Book with over 200 entries and 2000 e-Pages - purchase on Amazon and search any artist or song (click the link below). Huge amounts of info taken directly from the discs (no cut and paste crap).