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The Collection is a compilation album of vintage songs by the sixties singing star Sandie Shaw and was released in 2007 to mark her 60th birthday. There are 24 songs here including some of her most famous hits, a few b-sides and covers and a couple of foreign language oddities. All are enjoyably swinging sixties and many are wonderful. With her supernatural voice and girl next door beauty, Sandie Shaw was one of the biggest stars in Britain in the sixties and enjoyed some impressive international recognition too (recording foreign language versions of her songs for overseas markets). Aside from the fact that she was a great singer and had fantastic cheekbones, a big part of her appeal was that she seemed very down to earth - she was from Essex and had worked in a factory for a while before she became famous - and warm and accessible. She didn't seem to be an aloof enigmatic celebrity who ever got too pretentious and you could imagine her drinking tea in a cafe with a sticky bun as much as you could imagine her at some swanky party. Her career fizzled out in the seventies when motherhood (and even a bit of acting) distracted her but she left a golden legacy in the sixties that few British female artists could ever hope to get anywhere near. (There's) Always Something There to Remind Me begins the collection and it's probably the song most associated with Sandie Shaw although it wasn't originally written for her. The song was written by Burt Backache, sorry, I mean Burt Bacharach, and Hal David. The lyrics are touchingly simple and about everything reminding you of someone who has gone ("When shadows fall, I pass a small cafe Where we would dance at night..."). Sandie Shaw really belts this song out with swoopingly lovely slower sections and lush orchestration. It's like being on a small honey drenched rollercoaster.
This and Long Live Love (sadly absent here) are probably her two best known songs and two of her best. There are actually a few other Sandie Shaw songs I really love that slipped through the net here so this isn't a completely comprehensive collection by any means. The next offering, Don't You Know, has a very lounge easy listening sound and has nice orchestration. It glides along pleasantly enough although it isn't my favourite in the collection. Although there is a definite archetypal Sandie Shaw sound not all the songs feel the same here and she had quite a decent range and facility for trying something modestly new from time to time. I'll Stop At Nothing is a great song with backing vocals and majestic shifts in mood and vocal range. It's very catchy during the chorus and then slows for the more tremulous side of Sandie Shaw to come through. Sandie Shaw had a great voice I think and could memorably capture different moods within one song. Next is Downtown, the Tony Hatch song made famous by Petula Clark. It's pretty much what you'd expect - Sandie Shaw singing Downtown! Nice, but as great as Sandie Shaw is you can't quite forget the other definitive version as you listen to this. It's not really Sandie's song. Baby, I Need Your Loving has more of an American feel than most Sandie Shaw songs and is pretty good but not really in my own list of personal favourites in this compilation. I like very British jangly poppy songs like Message Understood - the next one here. This is an incredibly sixties sounding and jaunty pop song with Sandie Shaw sounding quintessentially like Sandie Shaw! The way she holds a note here is really fantastic.
Don't You Count On It is rather melodramatic with vocal contortions a plenty and not one of my own personal favourites. Sandie goes a bit too deep here for my liking sometimes. Next is a cover of When I Fall In Love. It's rather speeded up though and not brilliant. I think it would have worked much better if Sandie Shaw had sung it in slow heartfelt fashion but they obviously tried to do something different with it, an experiment that wasn't terribly successful I think. Do You Mind? is a brassy number, quite catchy. Very strong vocal performance by Sandie Shaw and playful lyrics and changes in tone. This is a Lionel Bart song that was originally recorded by Anthony Newley. Sandie Shaw puts her own barefoot stamp on it here in sterling fashion. Tomorrow is a good one. It's a love song and very atmospheric when it slows down to draw breath, the singer superb at these shifts in pace and mood. Puppet On A String is the song that won Sandie Shaw the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest. She absolutely hated it though and only did Eurovision because her management badgered her into it and said it would be good for her exposure. They were right I supose because she won and the song was a big hit. It's a very twee and somewhat annoying song (annoying in the way that it stays in your head all day after you've heard it) with plinky plonky music that is I suppose supposed to evoke a magical toy factory or something. The song is not without a certain charm I suppose but it's not really the best of Sandie Shaw.
Tell the Boys is relatively strong on the whole and regarded by Sandie Shaw to be one of her better singles although I actually prefer You've Not Changed - which is very catchy with the whole song sounding like a chorus. Sandie Shaw is very English here with her vocals and the breezy and fun way that she sings the song is infectious and very adorable. Two more covers next - I Get A Kick Out of You and Those Were the Days. Neither are essential although I prefer the latter. Du Lügst So Wunderbar (One More Lie) is one of Sandie's foreign language songs (I think the title gave it away really!) and although these do seem rather strange it's sort of fun and cute to listen to her sing in other languages. She was surprising adept at it too so must have had a lot of practice. Scarborough Fair is Sandie singing the traditional ballad Scarborough Fair! As you'd expect it's very pretty, sort of like the Sneaker Pimps doing that folk song from The Whicker Man. What Now My Love is absolutely beautiful and top tier Sandie Shaw, one of my favourites, while Monsieur Dupont (another foreign one obviously) has a lot of la las and sounds like something out of an old Pink Panther film. A bit kookie and summer of love. Send Me A Letter is okey dokey and Love Me Do is (of course) another cover. Sandie sings the song in an easy listening style, slowed down, and it's strangely brilliant while simultaneously flirting with naffness. Is it good or bad? It's quite good I think. Reviewing The Situation sounds like Lulu, big and harder sounding than most Sandie songs while Dieu Seul Sait (Heaven Knows I'm Missing Him Now) is very adorable. Sandie Shaw singing in French! Finally there is Usignolo, Usignolo (Maple Village). Sounds a bit like Abba. Not my favourite here. Ok but a bit bleh.
This collection has some amazing stuff on it and Sandie Shaw's voice is a thing of wonder. The only downside is that a few of her songs that I love are missing and you could probably live without a couple of the covers here. That aside it's a great compilation and a decent introduction to Sandie Shaw. At the time of writing you can buy this new for under a fiver.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 (There's) Always Something There To Remind Me (2004 Digital Remaster)
2 Don't You Know (2004 Digital Remaster)
3 I'll Stop At Nothing (2004 Digital Remaster)
4 Downtown (2005 Digital Remaster)
5 Baby, I Need Your Loving