on 25 November 2007
Glenda Collins. You could probably ask a thousand people if they'd ever heard of her, and be guaranteed they'd all have no idea. Even those around in the 60s, when Glenda was recording, would be hard pressed to place her.
Glenda never made it big - in fact, she barely made any impression at all. There's one reason why this CD is available, and one reason only: Joe Meek. Yes, Britain's answer to Phil Spector, renowned for hits like Telstar and Have I the Right, produced most of Glenda's work. Meek was not known for harnessing female talent, mainly due to his sexual persuasions: if he liked the look of a boy, whether he could sing or not held no bearing. But with the ladies, talent was all Joe looked for. This aspect of Joe's career is explored more fully on the collection 'Joe Meek's Girls'.
But back to Glenda. A young girl with a fine voice, she auditioned for and was quickly signed to Decca Records in 1960, where she recorded three singles. This was Britain before the Beatles and the beat boom that followed them. Lightweight rock 'n' roll love songs aimed at teenagers were the order of the day. Mainly covers of American songs, and churned out by the studios like a production line. If you enjoy that era of British pop music, then you'll like these songs. I personally enjoy all of them - great innocent pop music.
Since Decca didn't bring Glenda any success, she went looking elsewhere, and wound up at 304 Holloway Road, home of Joe Meek and his ramshackle recording studio. Joe had just enjoyed immense success thanks to Telstar, and was ready for more. Glenda filled a gap on Joe's roster for a female singer, and having been impressed with her voice, he signed her up. From here on, the sound of Glenda's records changed markedly.
Joe employed ever production method he could - quite literally, everything but the kitchen sink. These productions are very 60s, and have a great rock feel. At times the style verges on heavy metal, or even punk rock. This heavy rock feel is perhaps influenced by guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who went on to join both Deep Purple and Rainbow. Glenda had a fantastic voice for power pop, which is displayed effectively. How she never had a hit with any of these tracks will remain a mystery forever. Most likely, it was due to poor distribution and bad luck.
All these singles are works of genius in their own way. Her debut single, 'I Lost My Heart at the Fairground' is acknowledged by Meek fans as a classic. Frankly, it should have been huge. It's hard to single out tracks here, because I honestly do love them all. 'If You Gotta Pick a Baby' is great girl-pop, and the other side of that record, 'In the First Place', is just a great pop record.
There's a great version of 'Lollipop' which will make you forget the Chordettes ever recorded it. A very different arrangement here. 'Paradise For Two' sounds like Joe trying to be Phil Spector - the Ronnettes or any of their ilk could have made this a classic.
Glenda's penultimate single was the one that REALLY should have been a huge smash hit. 'Something I've Gotta Tell You' is a great pop record with a soaring emotional vocal from Glenda.
This collection ends with a series of unissued demos recorded by Glenda. They are only rough, so not quite up to the standard of the other tracks. 'Sing C'est La Vie' is dull enough the first time without the second longer version also included. However, the title track, 'This Little Girl's Gone Rockin'' is supreme, and there's a rather soulful track called 'You're Gonna Get Your Way'.
Sadly, Joe Meek shot himself and his landlady in 1967 and Glenda's career was effectively killed with them.
The booklet included lives up to RPM's usual magnificent standard, featuring rare photos and memorabilia. The sleevenotes are very informative, too.
Sound is excellent, aside from the demos, which as mentioned are a bit rougher. Overall, an excellent package.
For me, Glenda is an unsung heroine of 60s pop. She should have been as big as Cilla, Sandie or Petula. Seek out this CD, however, and you'll realise what the British public missed out on. If you like 60s pop, or girl singers, you'll dig this.