More pop, soul and beat gems from the London-based company’s 60s girls – with a touch of folk, psychedelia, bubblegum and even jazz.
To the 60s Brit Girl enthusiast, discovering the Pye back catalogue is like being a kid in a sweet shop. It was first plundered for the purposes of reissue back in 1990, with the initial volume of the “Here Come The Girls” series which, during its eventual nine-year run, grew to include a further five collections of sublime and neglected gems from girls whose recordings appeared on Pye or sister label Piccadilly.
In 2016, 17 years after the last of those compilations, and with a renewal of interest in all things Brit Girl, Ace visited the Pye catalogue for the “Scratch My Back! Pye Beat Girls 1963-1968” CD. But it’s now 2021, and for the new, or even seasoned devotee of the genre, four years is a long time to go without a top-up fix. So in a timely gesture of sustenance, Ace hereby presents “She Wants You! Pye Records’ Feminine Side 1964-1970”, a further set of tracks by the company’s female talent, over half of which never appeared on those 1990s reissues.
The mid-60s was a time when youth culture was in transition, not only in terms of fashion – girls were ditching their sugar water-stiffened petticoats and bouffants in favour of mod shifts, raised hemlines and Cathy McGowan fringes – but in music also, with the raw beat and unschooled enthusiasm of the earlier part of the decade making way for more sophistication, in terms of both production techniques and songwriting. The country was now fully aware of the soul of Detroit, the pop of New York and the spirit of California, and elements of these were often incorporated into domestic productions and arrangements, while retaining that unmistakeable British factor. You can hear it in the fourth-form enthusiasm of Lorraine Silver’s version of ‘Lost Summer Love’, a song originating from New York’s Brill Building, or in the kitchen-sink realism of Billie Davis’ interpretation of Motown’s ‘Just Walk In My Shoes’.
The above-mentioned tracks are two of only a handful of US-penned songs to appear on this collection. The vast majority originate from UK songwriters and it’s interesting to note that, despite it being generally accepted that there was a dearth of British female singer/songwriters in the 60s – the most cited being Jackie Trent, Lesley Duncan and Barbara Ruskin – a close look at the writing credits would appear to confound that theory, with a pleasing sprinkling of women’s names to be found within those brackets. Jackie’s there of course, but so are Sue Bell of the Satin Bells, Anita Harris and Dana Gillespie, all of whom have a composing hand in their respective tracks, while Janet Kilbourn and ex-Avon Valerie Murtagh provide material for the Feminine Touch and Peanut respectively.
As usual, the singers featured cover many shades of the musical spectrum, including pop, soul and beat, with touches of folk, bubblegum, psychedelia and even jazz. The age span is wide, from the adolescent Lorraine Silver to Petula Clark, who by 1966 was in her early 30s. And in between, there’s the usual array of equally talented Pye girls who, despite worthy singles and often good promotion, never made it big, but who are ironically better known and more appreciated in this post-internet age than they were in the 60s. Some have even developed cult followings, especially in Japan. And if you must talk Top 20, well of course Sandie Shaw and Petula Clark were Pye’s undisputed chart queens, but since when have we Brit Girl junkies cared about chart placings? As they used to say at Motown, “It’s what’s in the grooves that counts”.