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

Friday, November 25, 2016

Winning Hand: Three Pairs!

Welcome to Winning Hand:

Three Pairs!

It's the series formerly known as Version Sacrifice,
which before that was called Battle of the Banned,
which before that was called Battle of the Bands.
Confused? Why another name change, Shady?
Plain and simple, I changed the format
because I no longer feel like
hosting band battles.

In Winning Hand: Three Pairs! I'll present
three pairs of recorded songs, three originals
and three covers. Naturally I am curious to
learn which versions you like, but I am not
asking you to vote and there will be no
follow-up post to announce a winner.

I might be a wild card and

a joker, but I'm no poker.

Therefore, without further delay,
I will introduce the queens
of song in today's post.

Remember, ladies and gentlemen...

This is only an exhibition...
This is not a competition...
Please... no wagering.


Image courtesy of

Teenage UK singer and songwriter Val McKenna
had bleached blonde hair and often wore sunnies
(probably even at night). I think of her as Britain's
answer to Mickey Lee Lane. Near the end of 1965
Val released a killer cover of Ike and Tina Turner's
R&B barn burner "I Can't Believe What You Say."

 "I Can't Believe What You Say" 
 Val McKenna (October 1965) 


The incendiary husband and wife team of
Ike and Tina Turner released their original
version of "I Can't Believe What You Say
(For Seeing What You Do)" a year earlier.

 "I Can't Believe What You Say 
 (For Seeing What You Do)" 
 Ike and Tina Turner (Sept. 1964, 
 highest chart position #95) 


Liverpool thrush Beryl Marsden possessed
powerful pipes and a passion for singing
American soul songs. Near the end of
1965 Beryl released a single with a
cover of soul man Stevie Wonder's
"Music Talk" on the A side.

The fab flip, "Break-A-Way," is a song
originally released as an obscure B side by
American R&B singer Irma Thomas. Neither
side of the record won Beryl the recognition
she deserved, but her energetic version
of "Break-A-Way" went on to become
a fan favorite of the Brit girl genre.

 "Break-A-Way" - Beryl Marsden 
 (Dec. 1965, B side of "Music Talk") 


Louisiana born Irma Thomas earned the
nickname The Soul Queen of New Orleans.

In the spring of 1964 Irma's original rendition
of "Break-A-Way" came and went almost
unnoticed as the B side of a minor hit
"Wish Someone Would Care."

 "Break-A-Way" - Irma Thomas 
 (April 1964, B side of 
 "Wish Someone Would Care") 


Mary Wells was the first singer to give
Motown Records a top 40 hit. It happened
in 1961 when Mary's  "I Don't Want To
Take a Chance" reached #33
on the pop chart.

Many artists in the UK and other parts
of Europe covered Mary Wells, among them
Louise Cordet, an English singer who also
performed in French. In 1964 Louise waxed
an uptempo version of the Mary Wells hit
"Two Lovers" and it was released on the
B side of "Don't Make Me Over," a
cover of a Dionne Warwick hit.

 "Two Lovers" - Louise Cordet 
 (April 1964, B side of 
 "Don't Make Me Over") 


Now let's listen to the Mary Wells
original recording of "Two Lovers."

Released in December of 1962, Mary's single
was a top 10 hit on the pop chart and topped
the R&B chart in the early weeks of 1963.

 "Two Lovers" - Mary Wells 
 (Jan./Feb. 1963, highest chart pos. 
 #7 Hot 100/#1 R&B

I think these queens of song are aces!

Do you agree? As always I am interested
in knowing which ones you like, but please
 remember that voting is strictly prohibited
and violators will be prosecuted to the
fullest extent of the law. :)

Have a Shady day!


  1. Winning Hand with Three Pairs is another clever idea for a series. All these singing women are great. I was already familiar with the American artists— Tina Turner, Irma Thomas and Mary Wells— but I never heard of the three English singers. I enjoyed them all and probably liked Val McKenna best. Val’s version of I Can’t Believe What You Say is almost as good as the original. Break-a-Way is a cute song and I enjoyed both versions. My top choice is the Mary Wells song Two Lovers. I'm not voting— just saying— lol

    1. Hi, Kathryn! Thanks for joining me in a friendly game of Winning Hand: Three Pairs!

      I’m happy to know you enjoyed the tweets of these songbirds on both sides of the pond. I agree with you on Val McKenna. Merely a teenager when she recorded this and other sides, Val possessed maturity beyond her years. I like her cover of “I Can’t Believe What You Say” at least as much as Ike & Tina’s original, maybe more.

      As you might have noticed at the start of the Louise Cordet video, future Led Zeppelin founder Jimmy Page played guitar on Louise’s recording of “Two Lovers.” By the mid 60s Page was one of the most sought-after session musicians in Britain.

      I could listen to Motown great Mary Wells and New Orleans soul queen Irma Thomas all day every day. I'm glad you liked them, too.

      Thanks again for being here for the launch of my new series, Kathryn, and have a wonderful weekend!

  2. I agree with Kathryn. Winning Hand with Three Pairs is a great idea. I have heard all of the American versions and love them, but I also love the English version of the songs. Like Kathryn, my top choice is Mary Well's Two Lovers.

    1. Hi, Jessica Marie!

      Happy Black Friday to you, dear friend! Going monster shopping again today? :)

      I am excited to see you and to know that you enjoyed this new series concept. I'm surprised you knew these U.S. oldies and delighted that you enjoyed these Brit girl covers.

      Mary Wells was a sultry soul siren who fell on hard times when she developed laryngeal cancer. The aggressive treatments destroyed her singing voice and she fell into financial ruin. Mary died before the age of 50.

      Thanks again for your visit and comment, dear friend JM, and have a nice weekend!

  3. My Goodness! I think I'm up with all picks on this. I went to teen dances as a young teen, where live bands would do covers of our favorite songs, but, I didn't realize that artists were recording covers in the early 60's. Val made an excellent attempt at covering Ike and Tina's "I cant' believe what you say." I don't remember hearing that one from them before.

    "Break Away" by Beryl Marsden was a good job. Again, I hadn't heard the original version by Irma, whose version is much smoother.

    I just loved Mary Wells-"Two Lovers" is one of my favorites songs of all time. I had to sing along with Mary Wells' version. I think I must have experienced a situation in my younger years that identifies with that song. Mary Wells just executes it like no other can. And, it was devastating to lose her when she could have had many more singing years. But, really, if I had never heard Mary Wells sing it, I would have also loved Louise's recording. Bringing back such memories!

    A great post...Bravo for finding these covers. Some of us wouldn't know they existed, Shady, if you weren't scouting around for great voices that should have been.

    Hope you had a great Thanksgiving, Shady. I've got Scootie on hand, and, we traveled to spend time with Karo's family in another town and had a good time. I think we'll venture to the local dollar store, and stay clear of the "black Friday" nightmares! Take care dear friend! ♫

    1. Hi, Suzanne!

      Thank you very much for coming over to play Winning Hand. I'm happy to see you, dear friend!

      About five years ago I caught the fever for vintage girl pop and girl groups. My interest spread across the pond to Brit girls who regularly covered the hits of American soul and R&B artists as did The Beatles and other male singers, duos and bands in the UK. Many of those English thrushes made great recordings in their own right and I have been collecting them. As a result I already have five installments of this new series in the can.

      "I Can't Believe What You Say" is a seldom heard Ike & Tina classic and I'm pleased that your ears agree with mine on the quality of Val M's cover. Both versions of the song "Break-A-Way" were brand new to me when I began my research for this post. I think most of us can relate to the song "Two Lovers" and have memories of being in that situation. You might recall a record with a similar theme entitled "Torn Between Two Lovers" recorded by Mary MacGregor. That one topped the chart in February 1977.

      Yessum I always feel sad when I think about Mary Wells' tragic end. She was one of the many recording stars of the boomer era that died too young and in dire financial straits.

      Mrs. S and I had a wonderful Thanksgiving visiting family in another part of the state. I predict that you will find Black Friday crowds at the Dollar Store and, if not, then certainly on the highways and byways, so be careful out there.

      Thanks again for your cheery visit and great comments, dear friend Suzanne. Have a wonderful weekend with Scootie Potter!

  4. Tom,

    Cool idea! I’m glad you aren’t asking for votes in this new post series. It’s hard to give each song version the proper attention needed if voting on one, you know? Shoot, I find it hard enough to decide between two covers in BoTB. lol

    All of these songs are new-to-me. I was a little girl when these were released. I don’t know any of the artists by name other than Tina & Ike and I’ll admit the only song I really remember liking by this duet is Proud Mary. I think I like more of her newer stuff than her retro numbers.

    Here’s by breakdown of how each of these Queens fared in my humble opinion:

    Tina Turner is really awesome usually but her version of “I Can’t Believe What You Say” didn’t resonate well with my ears. Val McKenna’s cover seemed a better suit.

    I’m unsure which artist’s rendition of “Break-A-Way” I like. Either it’s the song I’m not nuts about or the singers. So, I can’t say one way or another. :(

    Mary Wells definitely is my preferred pick singing “Two Lovers”. Her smooth vocals are beautiful!

    Thanks for sharing such a fun, delightful musical post with us today. Have an excellent weekend, my friend and stay away from the stores. It'll be a nightmare to go in any place! :D

    1. Hi, Cathy!

      Thank you very much for making time for a visit, dear friend!

      The difference in our ages becomes apparent when I present posts like this one. I was already in my teens when these recordings were released and you were too young to remember them. Not surprisingly you developed a taste for the smoother urban R&B style that evolved in more recent decades and your ears struggle to appreciate the gritty, less polished southern R&B recordings of the mid 60s such as the ones here by Irma Thomas and Tina Turner. Although I was in my teens when these records were issued, the only one I actually remember from my youth is the one every reader seems to favor, Mary Wells' big Motown hit "Two Lovers." The other five in this post were all brand new to me until just a few years ago when I began focusing my research on 60s girl pop and girl groups including Brit girls.

      Thank you very much for weighing in on my Winning Hand, dear friend Cathy. I very much appreciate your kind visit and comments. Have a safe and happy weekend!

    2. Tom,

      The 60s decade are a bit faint for my recollection but even if I had been older when these songs were introduced if I might have liked them. I remember my auntie playing Diana Ross and the Supremes, The Four Tops, The O'Jays, and similar Motown sounds. Where my uncles liked Herman's Hermits, Tommy James & the Shondells, or Simon and Garfunkel. Does this same something about how my mewsic style might have gone or would I have veered off? I don' know but I do know as time goes by my mewsic taste changes.

      The coolest thing about the blogging process is listening a diversity of mewsics and reading interesting posts. My stay in Blogosphere has turned into one of my favorite places to visit frequently and am so happy I took to it.

      It's time to heat up the left-overs for dinner and enjoy some more delicious food. Continue to enjoy the weekend, my friend and thanks for visiting!

    3. Hi, again, Cathy!

      When I was a boy in the 50s the older members of my family influenced me in a similar fashion. My parents played records by Dean Martin, Debbie Reynolds, Eddie Fisher, Patti Page, Dinah Shore, Rosemary Clooney, Perry Como and Pat Boone. My big brother's record collection was very different. He exposed me to rock 'n' rollers and rockabilly artists that included Elvis, Fats Domino, Ricky Nelsom, Buddy Holly, the Diamonds, the Del-Vikings and Jody Reynolds.

      I think the best thing that has happened to me through blogging is something you just mentioned. Unexpectedly, unpredictably, my mewsic taste has changed or, to put it more accurately, it has expanded to include many styles I never would have dreamed of liking. These include U.S., UK, Swedish, Russian and Romanian pop, extreme heavy metal and gangsta rap. If you had walked up to me 8 years ago and told me that someday I would have all those styles of mewsic in my personal collection and on my blog, I would have thought you were crazy. :)

      I hope you are enjoying the T-giving leftovers. I am still working on the last of Mrs. Shady's spicy pumpkin pie. :)

      Thanks for the return visit and for spreading goodwill, dear friend Cathy. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

    4. Tom,

      We're experiencing some very nice weather here this week and we're trying to get some outdoor stuff done.

      I just wanted to touch on and agree with what you say, the blogging network definitely has expanded my mewsic knowledge and taste, which I'm delighted to have these experiences!

      Well, I'm off here for now. Gotta take care of some stuff. Keep the folks in Gatlinburg, Tennessee in prayers. The wildfires destroyed a lot of homes and businesses last night.

      Be well, my friend!

    5. Hi, Cathy!

      I'm sorry to hear about the Tennessee wildfires. I will keep the residents in my prayers. Florida is going through a drought right now and the fire danger is on the increase. One year a brush and muck fire broke out close to our home and burned all the way to the woods next to our property line before crews could extinguish it. The smoky air made it hard to breathe for several days.

      Thank you for another kind visit, dear friend Cathy. You are always welcome here and I'm always happy to see you!

  5. It's good to change things up a bit and a new name and game (with no voting!) is a great way to do it. I'd never heard of the Brits but enjoyed their version of the songs. Ike and Tina and Mary Wells have my..ummm..not vote but admiration and love for their versions! That Mary Wells has such a smooth voice! Love it! Have a great weekend. I didn't have to work today which was good because I got sick right after posting last night..I hardly ever, ever get sick but feeling much better tonight. I just would suggest wiping off your screen after reading my comment just in case.

    1. Hi, YaYa!

      Thank you very much for dropping in so soon after your last visit. I appreciate it, dear friend!

      What??? You became ill by the end of turkey day? I'm so sorry to hear it. I am relieved to know you are feeling better tonight. (Just to be safe I sprayed Lysol on my computer screen and wiped down my keyboard. :)

      I knew precious little about the Brit girl pop category until a few years ago when I started buying various artists compilations that featured them. You can often tell the difference between U.S. and UK recordings because the English versions have what I call a "jaunty" rhythm and a less serious, lighthearted mood, even when the song being sung is a sad one.

      I'm happy to know you enjoyed the versions by Ike & Tina Turner and Mary Wells. You came perilously close to voting there, Yaya, and I will fully prepared to make a citizen's arrest. :)

      Thank you again for making time for me this evening, dear friend YaYa. I'm glad you're felling better and I hope it stays that way. Have a super weekend!

  6. Great songs!! I sure do love the Tina Turner and Ike version if i had to choose which i'm not and i dont but just saying. :)
    The Mary Wells version was excellent. I loved her voice and i wasnt familiar with her. Thanks for teaching me something new today Shadester!! Hope you had a wonderful turkey day!

    1. Hi, Holli!

      Welcome over, dear friend! I'm pleased to see you!

      Yessum, Mrs. S and I had a nice turkey day. I hope you and your family did, too.

      Yessum, you may love, but you may not vote. :) I'm glad you enjoyed the southern R&B recording "Can't Believe What You Say" by Ike and Tina Turner. Not everyone's ears are attuned to their rough, raw, earthy style. Coincidentally Tina had a birthday over the weekend. The rock/R&B icon is now 77 years young, so happy birthday to Tina Turner!

      Mary Wells was one of the queens of Motown in the early to mid 60s. In addition to topping the R&B chart with "Two Lovers," Mary had #1 hits on that survey with two other songs, "You Beat Me To the Punch" and "My Guy." Mary recorded duets with Marvin Gaye and two of their singles cracked the top 20: "Once Upon a Time" and "What's the Matter With You Baby."

      Thank you for your cheery visit and comment, dear friend Holli. Have a wonderful week!

  7. Hey Shady. Happy Cyber Monday! So did you do any Black Friday Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday shopping?

    Hope your Thanksgiving was fulfilling in more ways than one...
    Most of the Thanksgiving dogs have gone home and the first thing I did last night when the last three left was get out the vacuum cleaner! So much hair and mud chips and leaf chips on the floors, you could definitely tell there were 15 dogs here...

    Re: your music: Interestingly, I liked the 2nd version in each pairing (Ike & Tina, Irma Thomas and Mary Wells). Nice songs, all three of them.

    Have a good week, my friend.

    Michele at Angels Bark

    1. Hi, Michele!

      Thank you very much for dropping by, dear friend. I'm happy to see you!

      I did some online shopping Friday and Saturday and didn't go anywhere near the mall or the megastores. :)

      I can imagine how much hair and debris would be left by 15 canines. Sorry you had all that work to do at the conclusion of your holiday weekend.

      It doesn't surprise me that you liked the American versions of all three songs better than the English covers. It took me a while to get into the Brit girl sound, but now I have a decent collection of recordings in that category. I mentioned this in another reply. English covers of songs originally waxed by soul, R&B and blues artists in the U.S. often have a jaunty rhythm and a mildly whimsical quality as opposed to the more serious tone conveyed by the American recordings.

      Thank you for letting me know which tunes you like w/o actually voting. :) I appreciate your visit, dear friend, and I look forward to chatting with you again soon. Have a great week, Michele!

  8. I've heard the Mary Wells song before. She has a good voice. Didn't she also sing, "My Guy"? I think I recognize her voice from that.

    Have a great week!

    1. Hi, Sherry!

      How are you today, dear friend? Thanks for coming by!

      Yessum, "My Guy," a song written by Smokey Robinson of the Miracles, became Mary Wells' biggest hit and signature song. Mary's single topped both the Hot 100 pop chart and the R&B Singles chart in May 1964. Mary Wells had a smooth, sultry voice but lost it to cancer and died young. Hers is one of the many tragic stories of the rock 'n' roll era.

      Thanks again for dropping in, dear friend Sherry, and enjoy the rest of your week!

  9. I'm a Tina Turner fan all the way. I saw her perform and she was spectacular! I'm not too keen on old Ike for obvious reasons, but even though he's in the mix here, I'll still go with I Can't Believe What You Say.

    It seems everyone's making some changes these days. I just announced how I want to switch things up on my blog, and here you are doing the same. Must be something in the water. :-)

    1. Hi, Cheryl Lee!

      How are you today, dear friend? Thanks for coming over to play Winning Hand, the new game where everybody wins because nobody votes. :)

      I'm happy to know you appreciate Tina Turner's rural southern R&B vocal style on this 1964 recording with Ike long before she found fame as a solo artist. You were lucky to have attended a Tina Turner live show. Did you see that she turned age 77 on Saturday?

      Yessum, the times they are a changin'. After what happened in the 2016 presidential election I decided I wasn't in the mood to count votes because the most votes doesn't automatically guarantee victory. :) I therefore discontinued my band battle series.

      Thanks again for being here for the launch of my new series, dear friend C-Lee, and enjoy the rest of your week!

  10. Hi Shady!
    I really like the comparison format ;-) Nonetheless, I couldn't help myself and picked all of my old favorites; Ike & Tina, Irma Thomas and Mary Wells! Just good memories, I guess. I was instantly curious about Louise Cordet and Jimmy Page and I wasn't disappointed, but not even Jimmy could take me away from my gal Mary Wells ;-)

    1. Hi, Diedre!

      Thank you for joining me in a friendly game of Winning Hand: Three Pairs. I am very happy to see you, dear friend!

      It is not at all surprising that your ears favored the more familiar U.S. originals in this exhibition match. Currently I have followers in the UK, Ireland and Australia. It would be interesting to find out if their ears are attuned to the Brit pop sound more so than my friends in the U.S.

      Yessum, as I told Mrs. Shady, future Led Zepper Jimmy Page was the session guitar player on Louise Cordet's "Two Lovers" cover and many other recordings of the mid 60s. I appreciated your use of the lyrics to "My Guy" to pledge allegiance to Mary Wells. :)

      Thank you again for being such a dear and faithful friend, Diedre. I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving and that you are in good health and in good spirits. Enjoy the rest of your week!

  11. You are a very sweet man for all you kind comments. I have to give it to Ike and Tina because they really know how to do this song justice in my eyes. I also like Mary Wells style of this song. She made it unique in sound

    1. Hi, BB!

      I am still so sad about you losing your kitty right after you introduced her to us. I know what it is like to lose a pet. I'm still mourning the loss of my Toto.

      I'm happy to know that you enjoyed Ike & Tina's original of "Can't Believe What You Say" and Mary Wells' original of "My Guy." I love both of those, too!

      Thanks again, dear Birgit, and take care!


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