Over the years we’ve all come to love the hip, groovy 60s French female singers collectively known as The Yé-Yé Girls (after the English term ‘yeah yeah’ which graced many a British beat track). Lovely ladies such as Jacqueline Taieb, France Gall and Clothilde. The music of these stylish Swinging Mademoiselles is undeniably great. But let’s not forget about the Swinging Madams of the English speaking world. The ‘Yes-Yes Girls’ who smoked Silk Cut or Virginia Slims rather than Gauloises, and drunk PG Tips or root beer rather than espresso. There’s no shortage of great tracks by artists such as Billie Davis, Sandy Sarjeant and Dana Gillespie (UK) or Joey Heatherton, Karen Verros and Margo Guryan (USA). Their records are gonna be on the walls of record stores though, not in the bargain bins. But fear not, because there are plenty of fantastically groovy, girly mod numbers buried on long players that are usually overlooked and underpriced. Here’s a smattering to get your juices flowing…
BRENDA LEE – THE LETTER As her career was waning in the late 60s the former rockabilly star belted out this impassioned and storming version of the song made famous by The Box Tops. This LP is so readily available I snatched mine from a free box outside of a record store. Whoop whoop.
MARILYN MICHAELS – LOVE IS WHERE YOU FIND IT Who? That’s what I thought when I found this LP in the same freebie bin as the Brenda Lee above. According to wikipedia she is a comedian, singer, actress, impressionist, author, and composer. And in 1967, for the time it took her to record this song at least, she was very groovy lady.
KAYE STEVENS – THE GRASS WILL SING FOR YOU Catherine Stephens was known as a movie actress, soap star, game show regular and Ratpack-er. And you can add happening soul singer to the list too, as her ’69 album’s title track shows. Tony Bruno (see Funky White Boys) did a great version of it too.
PETULA CLARK – RAIN Considering the number of Beatles’ covers that must have been recorded, there’s really not that many I actually ever reach for. But Pet takes on an inspired choice, and gives the ’66 B-side a good, honest swingin’ London makeover. If only it had the backwards bits.
LULU – DAY TRIPPER ‘Love Loves To Love’ from the same ’67 album is a massive mod-funk track featuring the Zep boys (Page/Jones/Bonham). But it’s also very well known in the 60s mod scene, so getting an airing here is this groovtastic dancer. Great stuff, but ‘Love Loves’ is the real track to buy this LP for.
GALE GARNETT – YOU’RE DOING ME NO GOOD You have a hunch this record is gonna be good from the title alone, and the sleeve isn’t fighting against it either. Canadian singer Ms Garnett gives us a bouncy folk rocker on this ’67 LP track. On her next album she was backed by The Gentle Reign and pulled some pretty nifty psych moves.
SANDIE SHAW – ROUTE 66 On her 1969 LP ‘Reviewing The Situation’ Sandie Shaw released the first ever Led Zep cover (You’re Time Is Gonna Come) and my favorite ever Beatles cover (Love Me Do). That’s a pricey record though. This one is a bargain binner, with an absolute scorcher of a take on the R&B standard.
NANCY SINATRA – LIES Debut LP built around the huge hit ‘Boots’ which for the most part isn’t that great, no doubt why it can be had for cheap. But the version of The Knickerbockers’ Nuggets classic is like a cross between the fight scenes in Adam West’s Batman and the musical interludes in Austin Powers. Groovy baby.