High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." Shady Del Knight

Sunday, October 26, 2014

I Dare You to Spend a Night in the Wax Museum With Hitchcock and His Birds!

 Good evening. 

 My name is Alfred Hitchcock. 

 Shady Del Knight,  The Man Who Knew Too Much
 is currently unable to fulfill his duties as blog host. 
 It seems he is experiencing a touch of  Vertigo. 
 That explains why  The Shady Vanishes.  In his 
 absence, Mr. Knight has asked me to serve as 
 master of ceremonies and entertain you 
 by playing phonograph records. 

 I am delighted to do so because it gives me the opportunity 
 to introduce  The Birds,  British female pop vocalists who 
 made some of the best girl group recordings of the 60s. 

 I say girl group because each of the solo artists you 
 are about to meet achieved greatness with the help of 
 The Breakaways, a girl trio of session singers whose 
 voices can be heard soaring above the lead vocals on 
 the recordings of Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield, Lulu 
 and Jimi Hendrix to name but a few. The Breakaways 
 were also great recording artists in their own right... 
 the bees knees as it were. Ready steady go... 
 it's time to  Dial M for Music. 


The Breakaways were among the busiest and
many consider them the best session singers
in the history of the British recording industry,
the UK equivalent of Phil Spector's Blossoms,
Motown's Andantes and New York's
Sweet Inspirations and Cookies.

The Breakaways started out as members of
The Vernons Girls, a 16-member girl group
 assembled in Liverpool in the 1950s as a
 clever, legal way to promote UK football
betting pools. Three of the Vernons Girls
broke away from the group and formed an
act called, quite rightly,  Mellow Yellow
 The Breakaways. The girls moved to
 London where they became known
for their work as backing vocalists
on some of the greatest UK
recordings of the 60s.

Following a personnel change in which original member
Betty Prescott left the group, the classic Breakaways
lineup was in place - (left to right above) Jean Ryder,
Margo Quantrell and Vicki Haseman. The Breakaways
entered the burgeoning Brit Beat sweepstakes with a
few releases of their own. Unfortunately none of their
singles went platinum or gold (or  Topaz ) but, in the
fickle recording industry, "That's How It Goes."

 "That's How It Goes" - The Breakaways 
 (March 1964) 

"He Doesn't Love Me," the B side of "That's How It Goes,"
was good enough to merit release as an A side.
Why neither side became a hit remains a
deep, dark, unfathomable mystery.

 "He Doesn't Love Me" - The Breakaways  
 (March 1964, B side of "That's How It Goes") 


I now present Miss Yvonne Prenosilova, a teenage
Czech songbird who had a fondness for American
rhythm and blues and rock 'n' roll and performed
covers of Brenda Lee songs. Yvonne won a
singing contest in her home city of Prague.
In England, backed by The Breakaways,
she released "When My Baby Cries,"
a beat ballad that will leave you
shaken and stirred or my
name isn't Alfred Hitchcock.

 "When My Baby Cries" - Yvonne Prenosilova 
 (February 1965) 


English composer Tony Hatch supplied songs and
produced and arranged recordings made by the
Breakaways and many other Brit pop acts.
Jackie Trent was the tunesmith's lyricist
partner, girlfriend and future wife.
When Jackie wasn't busy writing
songs for other artists, she was in
the studio making records of her
own including the northern soul
doublesider "You Baby" b/w
 "Send Her Away."

 "Send Her Away" - Jackie Trent 
 (January 1966, B side of "You Baby') 


Cilla Black was one of the most successful English
female singers of the Sixties thanks to her talent,
poise, style, great song material and A-list record
producers. Cilla specialized in dramatic ballads
and you are about to witness history in the
making as she recorded one of the best
of her career, the Burt Bacharach -
Hal David composition "Alfie,
title track of the hit movie
starring Michael Caine.

Burt Bacharach himself charted the arrangement and
flew across the pond to play piano at the recording
session and conduct the 48 piece orchestra. In this
clip you will see The Breakaways providing back-
ground vocals. Burt Bacharach said he was
looking for magic that day. He got it. Cilla
Black stepped up to the microphone and
delivered a powerful vocal performance.
If this doesn't give you goose bumps,
you belong in the  Family Plot. 

 "Alfie" - Cilla Black  
 (Sept. 1966, highest chart pos. 
 #95 U.S./#9 UK in May 1966) 


The song "We Were Lovers (When the Party Began)"
was originally recorded in 1964 by the American
R&B/pop group the Exciters.

The following year British singer Sandra Barry,
accompanied by The Breakaways, covered the
Exciters' release but it failed to attract attention,
confined as it was to the B side of a poor selling
single. Today, Sandra's rendition is a favorite
with fans of British girl pop. Beware! Listening
to this fine recording could drive you  Psycho. 

 "We Were Lovers (When the Party Began)" - Sandra Barry 
 (January 1965, B side of "The End of the Line") 

 I hope you enjoyed the show.
 You will be happy to know 
 that I will be returning soon 
 with more sweet tweets of 
 The Birds Brit girls whose  
 pop records were enhanced 
 by The Breakaways. Til next 
 time this is Alfred Hitchcock 
 leaving you with a friendly 
 piece of advice. What ever you do, don't shower alone at the 
 Bates Motel. Use the buddy system.  Good evening and...