Helen Shapiro is remembered today by younger pop culture buffs as the slightly awkward actress/singer in Richard Lester's 1962 debut feature film, It's Trad, Dad. From 1961 until 1963, however, Shapiro was England's teenage pop music queen, at one point selling 40,000 copies daily of her biggest single, "Walking Back to Happiness," during a 19-week chart run. A deceptively young 14 when she was discovered, Shapiro had a rich, expressive voice properly sounding like the property of someone twice as old, and she matured into a seasoned professional very quickly.
Sad Café was a British soft rock outfit, that enjoyed a recording somewhat successful career from the mid-'70s through the early '80s. The group's leader, singer Paul Young (not the same Paul Young that scored the '80s hit "Every Time You Go Away"), got his start with music in the mid-'60s, when he fronted a forgotten Manchester group called the Toggery Five, which included a few members that would later go on to join prog rockers Jethro Tull – guitarist Mick Abrahams and drummer Clive Bunker. By the early '70s, Young was fronting another forgotten outfit, Gyro, and by 1976, opted to leave the band – taking Gyro guitarist Ian Wilson with him. Young then formed Sad Café, along with members of another Manchester band, Mandalaband (Ashley Mumford [guitar], Vic Emerson [keyboards], John Stimpson [bass], Tony Creswell [drums]), who had issued an obscure self-titled release in 1975.
Music Club has done it again with this amazing retrospective of blues guitarist and harmonicat Charlie Musselwhite. The Mississippi-born, Memphis-raised, and Chicago-trained bluesman has issued so many strong recordings it's a wonder that this isn't a box set. But if you have to boil it down to a single disc for a budget price, this is the one to have without question. Contained within its 20 selections are tracks from his two 1970s Arhoolie albums, Takin' My Time and Goin' Back Down South, from 1971 and 1974, respectively; The Harmonica According to Charlie Musselwhite, issued first on Kicking Mule and later on Blind Pig in 1978 and 1994, respectively; and finally from his Alligator albums, Ace of Harps (1990 and a Grammy winner), Signature (1992 and Grammy nominated), and In My Time (1994, also Grammy nominated).
One of the more curious characters of the new wave movement, singer/guitarist/songwriter Moon Martin issued several critically acclaimed yet commercially underappreciated releases from the late '70s through the early '80s, before reappearing in the mid-'90s.
Emy Jackson (エミー・ジャクソン) was born in Essex, England as Emy Eaton. As a teenager in Yokohama she still couldn’t read Japanese well, but her ability to speak both English and Japanese fluently landed her a job as a youth DJ for the Good Hit Parade on Radio Kanto. In her notes to the excellent compilation Nippon Girls: Japanese Pop, Beat & Bossa Nova 1966-1970 Sheila Burgel writes: Her DJ career was cut short when her colleague Reiko Yukawa found Jackson singing “You Are My Sunshine” whilst strumming the guitar and sent word to A&R man Akira Izumi at Columbia Records. Akira insisted that Jackson break with the cover-pops tradition and tackle original songs written by Japanese songwriters in her native language of English…