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Helen Shapiro - the teenage pop star years,
This review is from: The Very Best Of Helen Shapiro (Audio CD)
Although child and teenage stars in entertainment were nothing new even in 1961 Helen Shapiro scored something of a first in the UK by having three top ten singles, two of them No 1s, before she left school at the age of 15. Possessed even then of a voice with a full and mature range, which could go down surprisingly low, she had a string of six top ten hits, and six more slightly less successful, before the beat groups came along and swept away all before them. All those hits, most of them specially written and arranged for her, are scattered about on this collection. Close your eyes, cast your memory back 44 years and picture the girl in the party frock with the bee-hive hair style on ITV's Sunday Night At The London Palladium singing "Walking Back To Happiness".
Before her chart fame she had sung blues and trad jazz in her brother's band, and her versatility in those and other fields is amply illustrated on the other tracks here. Whether its old standards (Move Over Darling, Fever, Basin Street Blues), Motown numbers (Please Mr Postman, My Guy), girl group songs (a shoopless It's In His Kiss and probably the first recording of It's My Party), or even Elvis (Are You Lonesome Tonight?) Helen did them full justice and stamped her own style and phrasing on them.
The recordings cover her four years with EMI's Columbia label and producer Norrie Paramor, from 1961 to 1965. Surprisingly, only about a quarter of them are in stereo, and not necessarily the latest ones, but they do sound reasonably clean and fresh.
After her chart fame Helen returned to her blues and jazz repertoire, to much critical acclaim, teaming up with Humphrey Lyttleton, and still records and performs successfully in that genre to this day. This 40 track, 100 minute collection provides a great showcase of her all round talent at the time of her pop successes.