Others go to Amsterdam for the sex and the drugs - on my trip there I was intent on discovering a hit of the purest Europop. And it came in the form of three lovely ladies who had millions of number ones in 1970s Netherlands.
Luv' (the apostrophe is not a typo - perhaps any Dutch grammar scholars reading this would care to tell me of its purpose) combine drums, bagpipes, cliche and corn in one bejewelled package. They have made many great records but this is their majesty, their Great Gatsby.
And the CD cited below is a 2CD anthology of Dutch 70s and 80s girl pop. My idea of heaven and the rest of the population's burning purgatory.
from the single Trojan Horse (Philips 6012 858) available on CD - We Cheer You Up (Hunter Music)
A powerful, emotional, sophisticated song, the kind that Brit-girl Julie does the best. Without resorting to mawkish affectation, the sheer hush and force of her voice can make tears well up. This was her final single for the Pye label, and a fitting tribute to one of the most consistantly good careers of all the 60's UK female singers.
from the single Stop (Pye 7N.15884) available on CD - Count On Me! (RPM)
The very mysterious DJ Black Lodge, from Manchester. This is a person who played his cards so close to his chest that his first couple of singles didn't even name the tracks.
Blood / Brass combines the music from Dumbo (that 'Pink Elephants' tune) and some heavy dub. And, if that doesn't sound genius to you, well, I do despair.
A pendant's note: this track actually apears on two singles, his first on Acupuncture (where it appeared untitled and without so much dub content), and the remixed version that I am recommending here, a limited-edition release on an unknown label through the Rough Trade shop.
Don't let Wind Of Change by The Scorpians put you off. The use of whistling in a song is usually A Very Good Thing, and here to prove it comes Gillian Hills.
Hills was the titular Beat Girl in the 1960 John Barry-scored film, and never has anyone managed to look so moody on screen for so long. Ma Premiere Cigarette, a fake-eyelash batting number if ever there was one, is from her short period as a ye-ye girl, when she produced some of the very best songs in a fine genre.
The storyline to this one is bizarre. Gillian likes this guy Jimmy, who smokes; she wants to impress him so she has her first cigarette, smoked with various degrees of success; her eyes start to water and she can't work out whether it's the emotion of the occasion or the smoke irritating her peepers... There are little puffs and exhalation sounds throughout the song. It all makes for a wonderful listening experience.
from Ma Premiere Cigarette EP (Barclay 70352) available on CD - Twistin' The Rock Vol 9: Vue Integrale (Barclay)
Belle Epoque (or La Belle Epoque as they were billed in the UK, presumably to further Francophy them) get shoved in that black hole of Eurodisco, based on the evidence of their perky 1977 cover of Black Is Black. Were I not a Eurodisco weirdo who is more than happy to delve into the careers of various sequin-chested nobodies I would never have learned the truth.
This song is as glam-rock as they come. The sound of Miss Broadway is that of a female Noddy Holder, complete with that talking-over-a-hairdryer voice. The orchestration is crunching and stomps all over the disco beat holding it all together.
In short: Silver Convention's older sisters who secretly like Wanda Jackson.
19 Jul 04 ·umbrellasfollowrain: This song fast became the song of my summer nights. I play it to preen to in front of the mirror, before I step out for the night, then hum it as I my feet step out the door and into the night and the streets unspool before me. See, how lyrical the song makes me?! Belle Epoque is ferocious. Jeanette, I think you're so cool. Thanks for bringing dis track to my attention. You always have my attention.