Superb anthology of 60s Britgirl who narrowly missed the Big
Reader from Singapore | 09/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Girl singers didn't have much of a chance in the 60s but the few that made it achieved instant and lasting success. Billie Davis would have joined the select patheon of 60s Britgirls (Dusty, Lulu, Cilla, Sandie, Petula & Marianne) had the momentum in her early career breakout in 1963, following an incredibly gritty Top 10 UK cover of the Exciters' "Tell Him", not been disrupted by a car accident. By the end of the decade, Billie had gone full circle with recording labels from Decca to Columbia to Pye then Decca again but not before making another classic record ("I Want You To Be My Baby") in 1968 that should have been a monster-sized hit but ended up just missing the Top 30 due to a factory strike that halted the record's distribution. Talk about bad luck.
People today remember Billie only for "Tell Him" and "I Want You To Be My Baby". Few realise how many beat boom pop gems she had made during the intervening years that should have yielded her half a dozen more good sized hits but didn't. These and many more rare, much sought-after and collectible sides waxed during her second signing with Decca - artistically her most fertile years - form the basis of this truly stunning collection. Pity Spectrum didn't make this a comprehensive Decca anthology by including "Nights In White Satin" and a couple of excellent tracks from her one and only album.
Vocally, Billie matured from throaty pip-squeak beat belter ("Tell Him") - shades of a raspy Lulu from the "Shout" years - to interpretive mid-tempo ballad chanteuse and hippy age rocker. How's that for versatility ? This late 60s anthology collection shows Billie was more ahead of her time in terms of the breadth of material she chose to record than hitherto acknowledged. First, the highlights. Her cover of Goffin/King's "Wasn't It You" is simply classic mid-60s pop, rivals Petula Clark's better known version and should have been a hit. Her gorgeous "Angel Of The Morning", though finer than P P Arnold's version, lost out in the battle for chart honours in the UK. Then there's the catchy "Love To Love", a Neil Diamond song that is such great pop candy it should have been a single but wasn't. "Nobody's Home To Go Home To" is another hidden gem, a grand opus from the beat boom ballad genre. Apart from plaintive ballads like "I Can Remember" and "I'll Come Home", Billie also revealed a taste for the progressive in her choice of material. Who else among her pop contemporaries would have covered Jethro Tull ("Living In The Past") or Lovin' Spoonful ("Darling Be Home Soon") or even fairly gritty, raunchy songs like "Billy Sunshine" (superb) and "There Must Be A Reason" and with such aplomb and verve to boot ? She even tried her hand at the gently folksy on "Love" by managing to sound like Marianne Faithfull doing a 60s Marianne Faithfull number.
"Tell Him - The Decca Years" plays like a greatest hits anthology. From the opening to the title track (17 songs), the quality almost never lets up. The last three songs from Billie's early years with Decca are puerile, ridiculous and best avoided. Don't let them spoil your enjoyment of this dream collection from an artiste who should have had much more success than she did during the halcyon years of the Britgirls. This is the anthology Billie Davis fans have been waiting so many years for. It was worth the wait.
British sixties pop singer best remembered for Tell him
Peter Durward Harris | Leicester England | 08/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Born Carol Hedges but performing with the stage name Billie Davis, she just made the UK top ten in 1963 with Tell him, a cover of an American song originally recorded by the Exciters whose own version also made the UK charts but only just. Billie was almost killed in a road accident later that year but she eventually recovered from her injuries
Billie's first UK chart credit was actually on a novelty record (Will I what) by Mike Sarne. That record was on Parlophone and it can be found on a Mike Sarne compilation. This compilations focuses on Billie's recordings for Decca, which include Tell him, He's the one (both from 1963) and I want you to be my baby (from 1968), all of which made the UK charts though two were only minor hits. It is interesting to note that Billie's final UK hit (I want you to be my baby) featured backing vocals by Madeline Bell (later to become a member of Blue Mink), Doris Troy (famous for Just one look) and Kiki Dee (whose two biggest hits were duets with Elton John, but who was a fine singer in her own right).
A close look at Billie's career shows that she left Decca for Columbia, later switching to Piccadilly before returning to Decca, where she released several interesting but unsuccessful singles including covers of Angel of the morning (included here) and Nights in white satin (not included). Of course, none of Billie's Columbia or Piccadilly recordings appear here although some of those tracks occasionally turn up on various artists compilations focusing on obscure sixties material.
While this is far from being the ultimate Billie Davis compilation, it includes all her essential solo recordings."
R. Jones | 06/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Billie should be lauded with Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield, Lulu and the other stellar female performers of the 1960s-- but that's not the way
things turned out for her. Treat yourself to this CD. She's worth it."