Around this time last summer, we filled you in on two volumes of Ace's Beat Girls series focusing on sixties starlets from the Pye and Decca labels. Now, Ace has recently released another volume in the series. Marylebone Beat Girls looks at the big-city acts recording out of London's Marylebone district, home of EMI's headquarters and its labels like Parlophone, His Master's Voice, and Columbia. This 25-track collection of uptempo nuggets brings the Swingin' London fusion of pop, rock, and soul back to life with artists both known (Cilla Black, Billie Davis, Alma Cogan, Helen Shapiro, Julie Driscoll) and less familiar (Andee Silver, Jean and the Statesides, Linda Lane, and Judi Johnson). What these songs have in common is that none were hits, but all brim with the same excitement and high production values as those that did make the charts.
Marylebone Beat Girls addresses the impact and influence of The Beatles on the artists, as the MOR sensibilities being foisted upon them in the pre-Beatles era was coming to an end, replaced by big beats and rock-and-roll attitude. The compilation's ethos is set forth with Liza and the Jet Set's "Dancing Yet," featuring the lead vocals of one Liza Strike - better-known for supplying background vocals to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. "Dancing Yet" is a big, ebullient, brassy pop production from the artist who later became an in-demand session vocalist. Beatle pal Cilla Black is represented with her 1964 B-side "Suffer Now I Must," written by her then-boyfriend and future husband Bobby Willis and swathed in strings arranged by Johnny Scott.
Barbara Ruskin, the rare singer-songwriter on this collection, recorded the slice-of-life "Euston Station" in 1967 as the second of her four singles on Parlophone; as it shifts from ballad to uptempo, it reveals an original voice. Future star producer Dennis Lambert (The Grass Roots, Glen Campbell) co-wrote "Want That Boy," boisterously cut by The Chantelles in 1965; and Brill Building stalwart Jeff Barry penned Linda Laine and the Sinners' 1964 recording "Ain't That Fun" with his and Ellie Greenwich's sometimes-collaborator Tony Powers. (Linda Scott had recorded the song in the U.S. in 1963 for the small Congress label.) The male Sinners added their Mersey-style backing vocals to Linda's youthful lead. Indeed, beat girls often delivered enjoyably reinvented pop covers. The oddly-named girl group She Trinity put their own spin on The Bobby Fuller Four's "I Fought the Law," as "He Fought the Law." The single-named, winsome-voiced Peanut, a.k.a. Katherine Farthing, took on The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds track "I'm Waiting for the Day" in an inventive arrangement by Mark Wirtz (A Teenage Opera). Wirtz also helmed Valerie Avon's breathy, ethereal revival of Carole King and Gerry Goffin's "He Knows I Love Him Too Much," originally cut by The Paris Sisters, adding quirky instrumental touches to create his own take on the Spector Wall of Sound.
Other beat girls emphasized the soulful side of pop. Billie Davis only recorded four 45s for U.K. Columbia, but her cover of American soul man Chuck Willis' "Whatcha' Gonna Do" is among the most choice. Julie Driscoll attained fame for her brand of psychedelic folk-rock with Brian Auger and the Trinity, but Ace has included two earlier tracks from Driscoll's catalogue. Yardbirds impresario Giorgio Gomelsky produced the R&B-flavored pair of "Don't Do It No More" and the booming, Dusty Springfield-goes-freakbeat "I Know You Love Me Not." Jean and the Statesides, featuring lead singer Jean Hayles backed by a six-man ensemble, fared well with a faithful cover of the Curtis Mayfield-penned "Mama Didn't Lie." Toni Daly delivers a dose of rhythm and blues with the tough "Like the Big Man Said," an English adaptation of an Italian song.
Rock influences also abounded in the post-Beatles British pop scene. The most snarling track on this set may well be Beverley Jones' "Hear You Talking," in which she ominously threatens to "cut you down!" None other than Led Zeppelin's future guitar hero Jimmy Page supplied the down-and-dirty solo for 1964's "Sweet and Tender Romance" from Scottish sisters The McKinleys - which despite hardly living up to its title makes up for in grit and punk spirit. Another rock legend, Andrew Loog Oldham, wrote and produced "Love is a Word," one of the tracks intended to update the sound of fifties British ingénue Alma Cogan. Her sweet voice proves surprisingly adept to Oldham's busy if striking production; sadly, the track sat on the shelf for decades.
Another pre-Beatles hitmaker, Helen Shapiro, brought her husky and persuasive tones to the beguiling, rhythmically-shifting "Stop and You Will Become Aware," produced for Columbia by Norman "Hurricane Smith) and the imploring "Forget About the Bad Things, helmed by Dusty Springfield and Walker Brothers associate Ivor Raymonde.) Raymonde also wrote the hard-driving arrangement of Stevie Wonder's "Music Talk," given a fresh makeover by the distinctively soul-deep voice of Beryl Marsden, and Andee Silver's dramatic "The Boy I Used to Know." The prolific arranger also handled The Three Bells' delightfully peppy "He Doesn't Want You," co-written by "You're No Good" tunesmith Clint Ballard and "I've Gotta Be Me" author Walter Marks.
Copious, comprehensive track-by-track notes have been provided in the colorful, 28-page booklet by Mick Patrick (although annotations for Track 10, Andee Silver's "The Boy I Used to Know," appear to have been inadvertently eliminated), and his co-compiler Sheila Burgel (also responsible for Real Gone Music's fine Honeybeat) has written an introductory essay. Nick Robbins has splendidly remastered all of these rare tracks. A 12-track "highlights" LP is also available of this outstanding collection which will doubtless leave you echoing Linda Laine: "Ain't That Fun!"
Marylebone Beat Girls 1964-1967 is available at the links below!
- Dancing Yet - Liza and the Jet Set (Parlophone R 5248, 1965)
- Whatcha' Gonna Do - Billie Davis & The Leroys (Columbia DB 7346, 1964)
- Sweet and Tender Romance - The McKinleys (Parlophone R 5211, 1964)
- Don't Do It No More - Julie Driscoll (Parlophone R 5296, 1965)
- Love is a Word - Alma Cogan (scheduled for Columbia DB 7619, 1965/released MFP LP DL 1191, 1991)
- Stop and You Will Become Aware - Helen Shapiro (Columbia DB 8256, 1967)
- Music Talk - Beryl Marsden (Columbia DB 7797, 1965) (*)
- Like the Big Man Said - Toni Daly (Columbia DB 8043, 1966)
- I Want That Boy - The Chantelles (Parlophone R 5271, 1965)
- The Boy I Used to Know - Andee Silver (HMV POP 1344, 1964)
- Mama Didn't Lie - Jean & The Statesides (Columbia DB 7651, 1965)
- He Doesn't Want You - The Three Bells (Columbia DB 7980, 1966)
- Hear You Talking - Beverley Jones with The Prestons (Parlophone R 5189, 1964)
- He Fought the Law - She Trinity (Columbia DB 7874, 1966)
- Find Out What's Happening - Tiffany with The Thoughts (Parlophone R 5439. 1966)
- Forget About the Bad Things - Helen Shapiro (Columbia DB 7810, 1966)
- I Know You Love Me Not - Julie Driscoll (Parlophone R 5588, 1967)
- I'm Waiting for the Day - Peanut (Columbia DB 8032, 1966)
- Lonely City Blue Boy - Cindy Cole (Columbia DB 7973, 1966)
- The Pleasure Girls - The Three Quarters (Columbia DB 7576, 1965)
- Ain't That Fun - Linda Laine with The Sinners (Columbia DB 7204, 1964)
- Suffer Now I Must - Cilla Black (Parlophone R 5133, 1964)
- Euston Station - Barbara Ruskin (Parlophone R 5593. 1967)
- He Knows I Love Him Too Much - Valerie Avon (Columbia DB 8201, 1967)
- Make the Most of It - Judi Johnson (HMV POP 1371, 1964)
All tracks mono except Track 7 (*) stereo