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"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... 



  1. This reminds me of our Hitchcock month around ten years ago when we watched as many of his movies as we could find. I don't think I ever saw Topaz or Family Plot. What a great group of songs from these English singers! I can understand why the Breakaways were used so often in recording sessions. I loved the film of Cilla Black and the Breakways recording "Alfie" for Burt Bacharach. You are right - it is a very powerful performance and one of my favorite songs of the 60's.

    I really enjoyed your Hitchcock themed Halloween post and the singing of these English "birds". Nicely done!

    1. Hello hello hello, dear Kathryn! Welcome to the wax museum where Hitchcock's birds are performing nightly... quite rightly. :)

      I'm so glad you enjoyed The Breakaways. As you know I have their rare CD compilation and love every track. Their bright voices fill in the sound and add dimension to the recordings of the primary artists and their own records are also a pleasure to hear. I can't understand why they never had hits of their own, especially there at home in the UK.

      Some people knock Cilla Black for "belting" too many of her songs, but I happen to like that singing style and get chills and fever watching this historic film clip and hearing Cilla perform "Alfie" as Bacharach conducts the orchestra. Jackie Trent also belts some of her songs and I own all of her best recordings and love them.

      Thank you very much for attending my two-part Halloween fright fest, dear Kathryn. I hope to see you next time!

  2. Hi Shady Del,

    Good Evening to you too - I trust you are having a swell time and have enjoyed researching this post. Thank you it has been very enlightening and I must say you have shown great taste in featuring the classic Mr Hitchcock and his Birds as well as a UK girl band namesake:)

    I might add the beehive hairdo's and retro fashions are clearly a 60s phenomena and along with Cillia Black you may have also featured Lulu - from the movie and song with the same name - 'To Sir with Love' - Sidney Poitier starring :) Thanks again for featuring other bands from the 60s such as the Breakaways.

    I trust your vertigo improves and in the meantime, have a great Halloween Week!

    1. Hello, good morning and good evening, dear Allie-Millie! Thank you very much for making the long journey from Australia to be here in the wax museum as Alfred Hitchcock presents Shady's musical version of The Birds! Seems you are also a Hitchcock fan, yes? I forgot to tell Mrs. Shady that I saw both pictures she missed, Topaz and Family Plot, at theaters upon their release decades ago. In fact, there are very few Hitchcock movies I haven't seen.

      This is only Part 1 of a series of Brit bird features hosted by Hitchcock so stay tuned and you might see Lulu in an upcoming installment. I have seen To Sir With Love several times and regard it very highly.

      Thank you again for your kind visit, dear friend Allie-Millie, and I hope to see you next time here at your home away from home... SDM&M! Good night and have a great week!

  3. Thank you Alfred.

    Jackie Trent looks like she was close to a wardrobe malfunction . . . at least in her day.


    1. Hi, Susie!

      ....and it looks like Jackie was ready to smack Tony Hatch's hand if he moved it any closer to the goods! :)

      I'm glad you got a kick out of Hitchcock's birds, dear friend. Thanks for coming Susie, and have a great week!

  4. Very good, Hitch. You worked in a lot of your great movies, but I didn't see my favorite: Rear Window. I think the first movie of yours I saw was The Birds. I never recovered from it. I'm still afraid of birds.


    1. Hi, Janie! I can understand your fear of birds. I'm pretty sure they eat Junebugs. :) I hope you and Susie noticed that there was also music in this post! :)

      Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!

    2. I suggest you hire Miss Marple to help you find the music embedded in this post. I guarantee it's in there and if the two of you search long enough you'll find it. When you do I hope you will take time to listen and let me know how you like it. Fair enough?

  5. My goosebumps have faded but I swear the ravens on some of my Halloween decorations have moved...eekkk! But I enjoyed this groups of "birds"! I remembered Cilla Black as that was one of my fav songs back in the day. I wonder if the Breakaways were ever upset that they weren't the big hits that the artists were that they sang backup for...(what kind of crazy sentence was that?? ) Anyway...thanks for the tunes and for helping me keep in the Halloween spirit for this coming week! Booooooo!

    1. Hi, dear YaYa! Boo Woo? :) I'm so glad you came over to Hitchcock's wax museum and enjoyed these tracks by various Brit birds along with Czech sensation Yvonne Prenosilova. Of course, the main attraction in this 3-part series is the fine singing of The Breakaways. It's hard to say if they were envious of the success other artists enjoyed with the help of their background vocals and their own lack of success as primary artists. I'm guessing they loved their work, enjoyed their reputation as everyone's go-to girls and were well compensated.

      Isn't that Cilla Black performance electrifying? The little lady knocked it out of the park in that history making recording session.

      Thank you again for making time for a visit and for your wonderful comment, dear friend YaYa. Have a safe and happy week ahead and say hello to my friend Eddy if he comes by.

  6. Dear Alfred (or should I say "Alfie"):

    Those are some great horns on "Send Her Away" by Jackie Trent. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Jackie still maintains a great website at

    Cilia Black, now there's a voice! I loved her version of "Alfie" and also "Anyone Who Had a Heart" Many of her songs have the old George Martin touch. Paul McCartney played piano on "It's For You." I think that one was pretty popular.

    I've got a bone to pick with you, Hitch...The Birds scared the bejeepers out of me. I still don't trust starlings - hanging around, perched on the wires, just waiting for a person to let down their guard.


    Kindest regards,

    1. Hi, dear Cherdo! Mrs. Shady and I watched The Birds a few weeks ago. We have each seen it a half dozen times or more. Frankly (can we be Frank with each other?) The Birds doesn't scare me as much as it's supposed to. Even so, I do think twice when I see rows of starlings perched on wires or playground jungle jims.

      I'm pleased to know you enjoyed Cilla Black and Jackie Trent, Keep in mind the sound of their recordings was greatly enhanced by those talented female session singers The Breakaways.

      Remember also that this is merely Part 1 of at least three posts in this series saluting The Breakaways and other artists who utilized their voices on their recordings. Alfred Hitchcock will be back to host the remaining two episodes and I will be name dropping more of his classic films.

      Thank you very much for your kind visit and comment, dear friend Cherdo. I'll be seeing you soon on the Flipside!

    2. I got so excited to see Cilla Black that I forgot about the Breakaways! :-)

    3. Don't feel bad, Cherdo. Janie got so excited about Hitchcock that she completely forgot about the music!

  7. Hi Shady,
    I loved how you used Hitchcock movies into the mix of your Halloween spooktackular post! I loved the Birds, I remember watching it with my mom when I was about 7 yrs. old. I love that scared to death/ edge of your seat feeling.
    My fav songs on this post was Alfie. I remember that song so well from way back when although Inever heard the name Cilla Black before???? She has a very powerful voice!
    Did you see the Alfie remake in 2004 starring Jude Law?
    I also enjoyed, "when my baby cries", by Yvonne.
    I liked Jackie Trents sexy" voice" the best , though with "send her away".
    I've been wondering if you have HBO and watching the wonderful Foo Fighters 8 ep. series called "sonic highway"? It's a wonderful look at the history of American music/musicians. It's a documentary from 8 different cities such as New Orleans and Nashville, telling how different forms of music evolved from punk rock to Jazz, etc. It's great for music history buffs like you, Shady (awee)!!!
    Toni Deroche

    1. Hi, dear Toni! Thank you very much for daring to spend a night in the wax museum with The Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, and his English songbirds, The Breakaways.

      Don't you remember "You're My World," Cilla Black's top 30 U.S. hit in the summer of 1964? I'm ashamed to admit this, but until I became a girl group fanatic a year ago, that was the only Cilla Black recording I knew. A couple months after the release of "You're My World," Cilla reached #79 on the U.S. chart with "It's For You." In 1965 her record "Is It Love?" from the movie Ferry Cross the Mersey starring Gerry and the Pacemakers, Bubbled Under for only one week. Hard to believe that Cilla's mighty performance of "Alfie" only made it to #95 on the U.S. chart in late summer 1966.

      My answer to both of your questions is no. I have not seen the Alfie remake nor have I watched the Sonic Hwy. series. Thanks for letting me know. I'll check them out.

      I'm delighted that you enjoyed Czech vocalist Yvonne Prenosilova and Jackie Trent. Every recording I post is a favorite of mine and it always pleases me when the sounds resonate with other people.

      Thank you again for coming over and helping me celebrate Halloween, dear friend Toni. Please take good care of yourself and come on back here a week from today when once again we will bask in Spectorian Splendor!

  8. Shady, I don't remember Cilla's 1964 hit because I was only 4 yrs old!!! All I remember at that time was Romper Room, The Mickey Mouse Club and believe it or not, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans!! It wasn't until 1965 that I listened to Radio Hits!!!!! LOL!!!
    Toni Deroche

    1. Hi again, Toni! If you didn't start tuning in to top 40 radio until 1965 then you just missed Cilla Black's "You're My World." I hate to break it to you, but you also missed another terrific record that came out in 1964 - "I Want To Hold Your Hand" by a group called the Beatles. :)

      Thanks for the follow-up, dear friend Toni, and enjoy the rest of your week!

  9. Sir, you are a genius.
    i so enjoyed this episode. i'm not a huge horror movie fan (i'd rather laugh than be scared out of my wits) but i do like the 30 minute episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents that i can sometimes find on tv. a little bit of spook and mystery is fun. (especially on dark, cool, windy days like today).
    so that being said, your script is perfect. i read each line with Mr. Alfred's high class, British, unimpressed voice in my mind. such fun!
    also enjoyable is the great lineup of ladies. i especially found this one interesting.
    wonderful job!! :D
    -Abigail and Daisy.

    1. WOW! Hi, dear Abigail! Thank you very much for coming by and for putting a great big smile on my face with this wonderful comment.

      I never would have guessed that you know Alfred Hitchcock and have watched episodes of his TV series. That's so cool because I used to watch it first run when I was your age. See what I mean by finding things we have in common? Feels great, doesn't it?

      I'm so happy that you were able to use your imagination and take the words I wrote and "hear" Hitchcock's voice speaking them. That's how I intended for the post to be experienced. I'm also pleased to know you enjoyed the musical selections performed by The Breakaways and the rest of the flock of Brit birds, all of them enormously talented in my humble opinion.

      Thank you again very much for taking time to leave such a nice, supportive comment, dear friend Abigail. Please give Daisy a hug and a smooch for me and enjoy the rest of your week!

    2. how neat that you watched the show when you were my age. why, just this last week (it being close to Halloween and all) Daisy and i saw an episode on tv one cold and windy evening. i thought of this post and will always be reminded of this and the fact that we both enjoyed the show whenever i watch it for many years to come.
      -Abigail and Daisy.

    3. This is what true friendship is all about, dear Abigail. You and I have bridged the generation gap. We are sharing the same experiences and finding the same joy, excitement and satisfaction in them. I am very happy our paths crossed, dear friend.

      Thank you very much for the follow-up comment, Abigail. It is greatly appreciated and so are you!

  10. I love how you added in the names of Hitchcock's movies in your dialog. I was a big Hitchcock fan until Psycho came out. Scared me to death! We used to watch his TV show too.

    I was excited to see Cilla Black on this post. I loved her when I was a teen. She did really belt out a song, as you said, and I like that too. I went on youtube and listened to Anyone Who Had a Heart and You're My World to recapture some memories. She was terrific.

    Of the other songs, I liked We Were Lovers the best. Great music and background singing. The Breakaways were very good. I thought Jackie Trent sounded a bit like Petula Clark. Nice voice.

    1. Hi, dear Belle! I'm thrilled to see you again, dear friend, Thank you for coming down to spend the night in Hitchcock's wax museum with the birds. This is Part 1 of three Hitchcock Halloween posts that I will present in coming years featuring The Breakaways and other English artists on whose records they sang background. In each of the posts I will be name dropping the titles of Hitchcock movies. I'm glad you got a kick out of the way the post was written.

      I am also delighted that you mentioned Cilla Black and don't mind her belting out a song. I get goose bumps when she starts belting "Alfie" in that film clip. Cilla's version of "Anyone Who Had a Heart," which also utilized the backing vocals of The Breakaways, has the distinction of being he biggest female UK chart hit of the 1960s according to BBC Radio 2.

      Thank you also for mentioning Sandra Barry's recording. You are the first reader to do so and I am tickled to know that you enjoy Sandra's "We Were Lovers" as much as I do,

      Belle, I am very happy to see you. I hope you are in good health and good spirits. Once again, thank you very much for your friendship and support and enjoy the rest of your week!

  11. Alfred, you old stinker, you cunning fox or bird! Picking out the cutest and most talented English Birds of the century is your expertise! What a fun Halloween treat!

    I'm with everyone else...just love Cilla Black and 'Alfie'. Not only cold chills, but tears in my eyes to this one. Super video capture with Burt on this recording! And, she sings it so effortlessly! What more can anyone say? I envy the Breakaways! I think they really had some career and comradeship with some of the greatest entertainers-just to have been one of that group would have tickled me silly!

    Great job Alfredy! And, tell Shady I'm only a couple of days late this time!. Happy Halloween to you all! See you soon! ♫

    1. Hi, dear Suzanne! I am very relieved to see you, dear friend, and hope you have a little more pep in your step after feeling tired last time you were here. Thank you very much for coming.

      I'm elated to know that you and a few other readers appreciated Cilla Black's riveting performance of Alfie, captured on film in real time. What a great moment in music history! As the story goes, Bacharach was quite a taskmaster during that recording session and insisted on several takes before he was satisfied. Can you imagine Cilla sucking it up and delivering such a powerful performance over and over again?

      I agree that The Breakaways were fortunate to have stayed very busy working with many of the top names in English pop music. They were the British counterparts of Phil Spector's Blossoms and other famous American session singers. To me this is all very exciting.

      Suzanne, I do hope you've been well and I wish you and Karo and Scootie Potter a safe and happy Halloween. My next post hits Sunday and I hope to see you again soon.

      God bless!

  12. I wonder if anyone remembers another version of Alfie by a group local to the Dell. As others have commented, I also enjoyed this version. Always enjoyed trying to find Hitchcock in his movies. Jerre

    1. Hi, Jerre! I can't speak for the others but I vaguely remember a group called the Magnificent Men doing a version of "Alfie." (Yes, yes it's all coming back to me now. I edited a YouTube video of that Mag Men recording at the request of Dave Bupp. :) Of course, let's not forget the exciting rendition of "Alfie" performed by 10-time Grammy Award winner Disco Tex & His Sex-O-Lettes! :)

      You're right. It was fun to keep our eyes peeled for the chubby Mr. Hitchcock to make a cameo appearance in the opening scene of each of his films.

      Thank you very much for your visit and comment, good buddy. Stay tuned for another opportunity to wallow in Spectorian Splendor (this time with a sad, ironic twist) in my next post this Sunday!

  13. oh im late to comment! but i have added these lovely ladies to my Girl Groups and have enjoyed listening to them quite a lot. especially ol' Cilla!

    1. Hi, Cat! Thanks for popping in, dear friend! Yessum, I remember you posting about Cilla Black recently and I told you I'd be featuring her on SDMM. I'm happy to know you also like the Breakaways because their marvy voices helped shape that fabulous Brit Beat sound of the 60s.

      Thanks a bunch for your comment, dear Catherine. I'll be chatting with you again soon. Have a wonderful weekend!


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