Male beat groups ruled the mid-60s Merseyside roost but the area was also home to its fair share of female talent. To illustrate the point, here are 25 hand-picked girl-pop artefacts from the environs of Liverpool, including a bunch of scarce new-to-CD titles.
Over the last few years Ace has built up a series of prime British female pop collections, with individual releases drawn from four of the country’s leading record companies of the 1960s: Decca, Pye, EMI and, most recently, Philips. With this compilation, rather than focus on a particular imprint, the spotlight falls on artists from a certain geographical area.
Liverpool’s pop queen Cilla Black is featured with her two most Merseybeat-oriented tracks: a terrific version of ‘A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues’, the first song she ever recorded at Abbey Road, and ‘Love Of The Loved’, a song John Lennon had offered to Beryl Marsden but which Brian Epstein requisitioned for Cilla. Beryl herself – who, prior to Cilla’s chart breakthrough, was considered the top female singer on the Liverpool scene – appears with ‘What’s She Got (That I Ain’t Got)’ and, from Decca Records’ “At The Cavern” album, her version of ‘Everybody Loves A Lover’.
The guitar-toting Liverbirds, as seen on the CD cover, released no records in the UK but were stars in their adopted Germany, where their repertoire of Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry numbers made them favourites at the Star-Club. ‘Long Tall Shorty’ and ‘Why Do You Hang Around Me’, here, are from their second LP, “More Of The Liverbirds”. At the time of writing, Girls Don’t Play Guitars, a new stage musical about the group, is packing them in at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool, just a short walk from the Cavern Club.
The Vernons Girls and the Breakaways – two more groups inextricably associated with Liverpool – are also featured, along with a selection of proven fan favourites and a batch of scarce new-to-CD tracks by the Three Bells, Nola York, Tiffany, Lyn Cornell, Cindy Cole and, not least, one-time Vernons Girls lead vocalist Samantha Jones, whose previously unissued ‘I Don’t Want To Be The One’ was recorded in London with visiting American songwriter/producer Teddy Randazzo.
The collection comes with a rather fine 28-page booklet boasting a lavishly illustrated 7000-word note by genre expert Ian Chapman and myself.