Though barely out of school, this Dagenham girl had presence, faultless pitch and...
Antony Hatfield 2005
A first inkling of spring and The Very Best of Sandy Shaw what a combination! Fresh, optimistic and brimming with a forgotten sense of innocence.
Shaw's story starts in Adam Faith's dressing room (a chaperon was present, we should assume) where she secured the promise of an introduction to his manager, big time Eve Taylor. Though barely out of school, the Dagenham girl had presence, faultless pitch and crystal clear tone. Taylor took her on and scored a #1 the following year with a cover of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me" (1964).
A string of hits followed over the next three years, most written and produced by Chris Andrews. Boasting twenty six tracks, this album chronicles Shaw's development through this era and reveals a host of lesser known gems like "Message Understood" (1965), "Run" (1966) and "You've Not Changed" (1967).
Barefoot and mini-skirted, Shaw became an icon for her generation and a truly great vocal talent. Her deft swing phrasing even proved the perfect foil for Andrew's curious embracing of the German oom-pah band sound. All in the garden would have been groovy, except that fewer people were buying her records.
Taylor's response was to shove Sandie into The Eurovision Song Contest. She won with "Puppet On A String" (1967) but loathed the track, written by Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, blaming it for her continued loss of cred. You'd have to concur but the same writing team penned "Tonight In Tokyo" (1967) which though equally kitsch is not cloying and an unexpected highlight on the album.
Covers of "Rose Garden" (1971) and "Father And Son" (1972) bring Shaw's personal journey to a poignant conclusion. Still mirroring the times, her once innocent tone now subtly conveys a recognition that everything might not be possible after all. As for the album, it ploughs on with tracks from the early '80s, recorded with The Smiths and BEF; a shame, for they only pale beside a brilliant canon of solo work.