Features

Sheila B.

Sheila B. has spent most of her life in the dusty old record shops of New York, London, Paris and Tokyo in an attempt to own every 60s girl-pop 45 in existence. She has worked as an artist manager, editor at progressive girl culture magazine BUST, head of A&R for UK production house Xenomania, columnist for MTV Japan, DJ and music supervisor. She has produced and written the liner notes for several compilations including Rhino Records’ Grammy-nominated “One Kiss Can Lead to Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost & Found” box set and Big Beat’s “Nippon Girls: Japanese Pop, Beat & Bossa Nova 1966-1970”.

At age 15, she founded her first fanzine, Plume, as an attempt to escape suburban hell and share her enthusiasm for My Bloody Valentine, Bikini Kill and the Blake Babies. Plume was selected as “fanzine of the month” in popular alternative teen-girl mag Sassy, which resulted in a larger-than-expected readership and sacks of fan-mail. Three years later, she moved to London to pursue a career in the music biz, but instead found herself hanging out with a crew of British record collectors, learning the crucial difference between a VG+ and M- vinyl record. Upon returning to NYC in 1998, she started her subsequent fanzine Cha Cha Charming, as a way to reconcile her love for record collecting, 60s girl singers, heavy metal + Japanese chart pop. After three print issues, Cha Cha Charming found its home online as the go-to site for girl-powered pop – from the past, present and future, and from all over the globe.

www.chachacharming.com

Selected releases

  • Feline Groovy

    Don’t be tempted to write off this cat-centric compilation as mere novelty. What may appear to be a cute n’ clever idea is in actuality a terrific compilation, culled from a random assortment of 50s + 60s tunes that are both feline-related and first class. Based on these 24 tracks alone, cats clearly inspire musical greatness. Even dog-people couldn’t argue with The Coasters’ ‘Three Cool Cats’, Little Willie John’s ‘Leave My Kitten Alone’ and Peggy Lee’s ‘Sneakin’ Up On You’. I am a great fan of oddball compilation themes that drive the listener out of their comfort-zone (in my case, 60s girl-pop) and into unexplored waters – where I discovered the joys of Rene Hall, Jimmy Smith and Mongo Santamaria. This tops my list of favourite Ace compilations and I am already busy concocting Volume 2 in my head. A round of drinks for compiler Vicki Fox!

    My song pick: Peggy Lee ‘Sneakin’ Up On You’

  • Chartbusters USA - Special Sunshine Pop Edition

    The perfect primer for those just beginning to journey into the 60s sun-drenched softness. 

    My song pick: Tommy James & The Shondells ‘Crystal Blue Persuasion’  

  • Wanda Jackson: Queen Of Rockabilly

    I remember the moment I first heard ‘Let’s Have A Party’ and ran up to the DJ (Ace contributor Bob Stanley) demanding to know who the hell was behind such a killer song. He pointed me in the direction of this compilation, saying, “Everything you need to hear by Wanda Jackson is on there”, and boy was he right on! I nearly choked on my drink listening to the chorus of ‘Tongue Tied’, the most irresistible expression of teenage lust I’d ever encountered. And ‘Funnel Of Love’, ‘Fujiyama Mama’, ‘Honey Bop’ ... Sweet Jesus! I was in L.O.V.E. Wanda Jackson was my first introduction to girl-powered rockabilly and I have yet to hear any other female do it better. 

    My song pick: ‘Tongue Tied’

  • The Golden Age Of American Popular Music - Hits With Strings & Things

    These lavishly orchestrated instrumental hits are instant mood-enhancers, with the ability to transform a simple dinner party into a more exotic, glamorous affair. I will forever be trying to re-live the 60s fantasy of poolside cocktails in Palm Springs, Polynesian summer nights and parties at Holly Golightly’s East 71st Street pad, and this compilation always gets me one step closer. 

    My song pick:  Walter Wanderley ‘Summer Samba (So Nice)’

  • Wild Thing: The Songs of ChipTaylor

    I’ve always picked up any girl-pop 45s with Chip Taylor’s name in the writing credits, but only when I listened to this compilation did I really register the wealth of his pop expertise. The CD opens with a bang – ‘Wild Thing’, Taylor’s unforgettable smash for the Troggs, and then travels through his 60s and 70s catalogue, a mix of greatest hits (‘Angel Of The Morning’, ‘Son Of A Rotten Gambler’) and oft-greater misses. Barbara Lewis’ ‘Make Me Belong To You’ and Patti Austin’s ‘A Most Unusual Boy’ are unexpected beauties.

    My song pick: Barbara Lewis ‘Make Me Belong To You’

  • Where the Girls Are Volume 5

    If you can spare the cash, I’d lay it down for every single edition of this 8-volume series. But if I had to choose one, Volume 5, with its focus on the Columbia label, is my pick for its near flawless song choices and for introducing me to the dreamy Sweet Things A-side, ‘You’re My Lovin’ Baby’.

     My song pick: The Sweet Things ‘You’re My Lovin’ Baby’

  • Francoise Hardy: Midnight Blues: Paris London 1968-1972

    I never paid Francoise Hardy’s English recordings any mind – after 20 years I still haven’t fully grasped her enormous French-language catalogue. Only in listening to this compilation did I find myself completely charmed by her delicate handling of English, so sincere and carefully pronounced. French-language originals like ‘Il Voyage’ and ‘A Quoi Ca Sert’ sound no less shimmering in their translated forms (‘In the Sky’ and ‘Why Even Try’), but it’s British musician expats Tommy Brown and Micky Jones who supply the real juice. Their haunting ‘If You Listen’ and ‘Song Of Winter’ make me wish I had paid attention sooner.

    My song pick: ‘If You Listen’

  • Saint Etienne Present Songs for the Dog & Duck

    Every drinking and dining establishment would do well to hire Saint Etienne to customise their playlists. So far only the fictional Mario’s Cafe, real Soho boozer the Dog & Duck and New York’s Central Parkhave been treated to their musical makeovers. “Songs For The Dog & Duck” pairs British glam with sultry soul, restless rockabilly with '70s funk, and Alex Chilton with Claudine Clark – all excellent companions to beer and conversation. It’s also where I discovered Brian Protheroe’s ‘Pinball’, and for that I am EXTREMELY thankful. 

    My song pick: Brian Protheroe ‘Pinball’

  • Destroy That Boy! More Girls With Guitars

    As much as I thoroughly love and adore the many cooing, starry-eyed girl group records, I also take immense pleasure in the merciless, vengeful, badass girl bands who proudly announce their intentions to “destroy that boy” and “cut you, cut you down”. The instrumentation is equally ferocious and wild-eyed – witness Raylene & the Blue Angels’ frenzied ‘Shakin’ All Over’, She Trinity’s tough-as-nails ‘Climb That Tree’ and Sharon Tandy’s axe-grinding ‘Hold On’. These are girl bands far more sour than sweet, un-polished, and ruled by their gut. Should be required listening for every teenage girl. 

    My song pick: The What Four ‘I’m Gonna Destroy That Boy’

  • Do-Wah-Diddy: Words And Music By Ellie Greenwich And Jeff Barry

    I named my fanzine after Ellie Greenwich’s first single ‘Cha-Cha-Charming’, walked down the aisle to ‘Be My Baby’ and have mini heart palpitations every time I hear ‘I Can Hear Music’ or ‘Maybe I Know’ or ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’. We are constantly reminded of the musical genius of Bacharach and Brian Wilson and the Beatles, and never enough about Ellie Greenwich (and her husband, Jeff Barry), whose impeccable 60s pop track record nearly always inspires a shocked, “They wrote ALL those songs?” “Do-Wah-Diddy” is the first of two compilations Ace has dedicated to (in my opinion) the finest of the Brill Building songwriting teams. 

    My song pick: The Orchids: ‘That Boy Is Messing Up My Mind’

© Ace records 2012