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Sandie Shaw

Almost made for – “hand in glove” some might say – for the then-burgeoning Eurovision Song Contest, due to her continental/French parlance, English “Barefoot Contessa” SANDIE SHAW was the toast of the 60s, rivalled only by DUSTY SPRINGFIELD, LULU and CILLA BLACK; much like the latter Liverpool lass, America only held a limited curiosity value. A career sorrowfully identified with her Eurovision triumph in March 1967 with the novelty time-piece, `Puppet On A String’ (her third and last chart-topper), Sandie was musically groomed along the lines of French chanteuse FRANCOISE HARDY, whom, herself, could not sustain a healthy chart challenge from over the Channel. But for mid-80s patronage of devotees The SMITHS, Sandie’s career would not have lasted as long as it did.
Born Sandra Ann Goodrich, 26 February 1947, Dagenham, Essex, she dreamt of becoming a model and/or a singer as she grinded out a pay-cheque at the nearby Ford Dagenham factory. After only about a year of clocking in/clocking out, a bit of part-time modelling and a second prize in a singing contest (in which she won a trip to a charity concert in London), brought her to the attention of fading pop star ADAM FAITH, whom, almost immediately, turned her over to his manager Eve Taylor.
So, at the tender age of 16 (a year or so older than Caledonian counterpart LULU), SANDIE SHAW made her debut in summer ’64, with the CHRIS ANDREWS-penned `As Long As You’re Happy Baby’. While the PYE Records platter failed to capture the public imagination, the teenage singer struck gold with her BACHARACH & DAVID-scribed follow-up `(There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me’. Appearing barefoot on Ready Steady Go! (manager Eve had realised Sandie sang better this way and of its fashion potential), Sandie’s girl-next-door image and distinctive vocal performance helped propel the track to the top of the hit parade (#52 Stateside).
A subsequent link-up with the aforementioned singer/songwriter/producer CHRIS ANDREWS (also on the books of Taylor), they initiated a string of major hits beginning with the Top 3, `Girl Don’t Come’ (US #42, and initially touted as the B-side to ballad `I’d Be Far Better Off Without You’). Hot on its heels was the softer approach of the Top 5, `I’ll Stop At Nothing’ (a ringer for “Always Something…”), while a hit-less and nostalgic-strewn SANDIE (1965) {*5} album, chalked up a surprising Top 3 position – her fickle teen fanbase would never again give her the luxury of a hit album.
`Long Live Love’ became her second No.1 in the summer of ‘65, establishing her in the top flight of fledgling female singers (see above). SHAW’s final ANDREWS-penned single effort, `Message Understood’, was another memorable and sizeable Brit hit, although her lightweight pop appeal didn’t translate well for near-Top 20 miss, `How Can You Tell’. In the event, the half-covers/half-Chris-penned ME {*6} failed to register with the youth of the day when released in November ‘65.
For the ensuing year or so, SHAW’s career began to flag with each successive single: `Tomorrow’ (#9), `Nothing Comes Easy’ (#14), `Run’ (#32), `Think Something About Me’ (#32) and the dismal `I Don’t Need Anything’ (#50), were songs aimed strictly at the Cilla, Dusty and Shirley Bassey contingent. Just as her career was in freefall, Sandie reluctantly took the brave step of representing the UK in 1967’s Eurovision Song Contest. Penned by Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, and plucked from four others that the public dismissed on the preliminary Rolf Harris Show, the infectiously-jerky `Puppet On A String’ walked away with the prize in Vienna and subsequently furnished sultry Sandie with another No.1; runner-up CLIFF RICHARD, LULU and second-place MARY HOPKIN would successively follow her to ESC fame.
Probably proved prophetic in her worries of the song hurting her commercial credibility (or was it the fact that she was nearly thrown out by the BBC due to being named as “the other woman” in a pending divorce case), yet again the barefoot babe’s career took a nosedive thereafter; albums PUPPET ON A STRING (1967) {*6} and LOVE ME, PLEASE LOVE ME (1967) {*4} gambling with a renewed public perception of the Dagenham lass by leaving out three Top 30 platters, `Tonight In Tokyo’, `You’ve Not Changed’ and `Today’.
Going from bad to worse, only her Australian audience seemed vaguely interested in her next batch of flop 45s, `Don’t Run Away’, `Show Me’, `Together’ and `Make It Go’ (ironically twinned with `Those Were The Days’ – a smash hit for MARY HOPKIN); and once again none were thought worthy for inclusion on 1968’s karaoke-covers LP, THE SANDIE SHAW SUPPLEMENT {*5}. But was she finally turning her head to “rock” music? Well, one supposes the evidence was in her selections of BOBBY TROUP’s `(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66’, The ROLLING STONES’ (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ and others by PAUL SIMON, The BEE GEES, GOFFIN & KING et al.
SHAW’s only subsequent Top 10 entry came in the shape of 1969’s continental-coined `Monsieur Dupont’, while the timing of low-end hit, `Think It All Over’, put paid to the chart promise of REVIEWING THE SITUATION (1969) {*7}, which featured a bona fide backing band that including future KING CRIMSON drummer Ian Wallace. For many young fans who’d accidentally stumbled upon the LP in the bargain bins (MORRISSEY probably one of them!), this was the bees knees in rearrangement and interpretation. Heavily doused in psychedelic but twee-ful rock’n’roll, the seductive Sandie swayed and shimmied her way through DR. JOHN’s `Mama Roux’, DYLAN’s `Lay Lady Lay’, JAGGER & RICHARDS’ `Sympathy For The Devil’, DONOVAN’s `Oh Gosh’ and LED ZEPPELIN’s `Your Time Is Gonna Come’, whilst the swinging lounge arrangement of LENNON & McCARTNEY’s `Love Me Do’, was a slow-burner.
The 70s were a complete wash-out for the once resilient SHAW, and an attempt to move even further into the mainstream with cabaret and TV work was doomed to failure as the new decade began with her marriage to fashion designer Jeff Banks – whom she married in March 1968 – on the rocks and her reputation dragged through a press quagmire; they divorced in ’78 having one daughter Gracie, in 1971. A brief liaison with C.B.S. in ’77 resulted in a couple of flop 45s and her pledge to become a devotee to Soka Gakkai Buddhism.
Then, out of the blue, the SANDIE SHAW factor was irresistible to Messrs Martyn Ware and HEAVEN 17 colleague Ian Craig Marsh, whom, through a meeting with her second hubby, Nik Powell, invited her to become part of the B.E.F. family (she contributed BACHARACH & DAVID’s evergreen `Anyone Who Had A Heart’ to the `Music Of Quality And Distinction’ LP). A whole new audience was guaranteed, and guaranteed further when “Pretender” to her throne CHRISSIE HYNDE called her up to duet on a performance of `Girl Don’t Come’; they’ve remained close friends ever since.
On the back of a not-so-aspiring “comeback” LP, CHOOSE LIFE (1983) {*4} – released on the normally-video-functioning Palace and produced by PETE BARDENS – there was a ripple of interest from an indie band soon known for their nostalgic picture sleeves. Their figurehead, MORRISSEY, was to sing Sandie’s praises, whom – in his position as lead singer of up and coming indie mavericks The SMITHS – was instrumental in rejuvenating her career. In the spring of ‘84, the ever-youthful SHAW hit the Top 30 (and the indie charts for Geoff Travis’ Rough Trade Records) with a cover of `Hand In Glove’; Morrissey, Marr and Co backing her on a Top of the Pops performance.
This exposure led her to Polydor Records, for whom she released two 1986 singles, `Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken’ (penned by LLOYD COLE) and `Frederick (a PATTI SMITH cover); her backing band was not The SMITHS, but the JOXERS. Towards the end of the decade she was back at Rough Trade for a whole album’s worth of songs, HELLO ANGEL (1988) {*6}, singing her own material (penned with CHRIS ANDREWS) and that of MORRISSEY and MARR, plus works by The JESUS AND MARY CHAIN (`Cool About You’) and The WATERBOYS (`A Girl Called Johnny’).
One of the album’s better tracks, the appropriately-titled opening salvo `Nothing Less Than Brilliant’ was released for a second time, becoming a minor hit single in ‘94, by which stage Virgin Records bought over the rights to release a long-overdue retrospective album of the same name. Divorced from Powell and in a relationship with Tony Bedford (who soon became her third hubby), Sandie put her music career to one side to become a psychotherapist; she would help set up London’s Arts Clinic, while also combining regular TV appearances as a retro-celeb. Putting the record straight, she subsequently worked with friend HOWARD JONES and mix-man Andy Gray on a calmer, “un-schlagered”, website-only rearrangement of her dreaded `Puppet On A String’. Since then, she’s appeared on Loose Women, offered up the title theme song to the 2010 Brit-flick, Made In Dagenham (the connection now full circle), but announced her official retirement from singing in 2013.
© MC Strong 2000-2002/GRD series // rev-up MCS Aug2016

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