A maturing pop voice, and some dynamite duets with Keith Pow
collegemoney | 09/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Billie Davis was a British lass who failed to make many waves here in the US, never achieving the notoriety of her competitors Petula Clark, Lulu and others. (A very few others, as Brit songbirds weren't as much a part of the "Invasion" as their male counterparts.) Stylistically Billie's spitfire delivery hued much closer to Lulu than to Petula. This set starts off enchantingly enough with a novelty number and then a LIVE set from the mid-60's. While Billie hadn't yet reached full vocal maturity at that point, the raw energy of these tracks is quite a treat. As the compilation moves along, you can hear her confidence and presentation grow. There are several knockout tunes here, and her superb duets with Keith Powell are lumped at the end of the CD. These duets are hard items to find out there, and so worth the price of admission that they warrant 5 stars all by themselves. Great pop music."
Not the Decca hits, but music on other labels
Peter Durward Harris | Leicester England | 04/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Billie's UK hits including Tell him (available here as a live recording) were released on the Decca label and they've been released on a separate compilation, but Billie recorded music for other labels that was just as good, yet mysteriously failed to yield a solo hit. Actually, this set opens with a Mike Sarne hit, Will I what?, featuring Billie Davis. It is similar in style to Mike Sarne's previous hit, Come outside, that featured Wendy Richard and made number one in Britain. Billie got that opportunity only because Wendy declined to perform the song live. I guess Wendy didn't fancy a singing career, but she established a successful career as an actress, achieving fame originally via the TV comedy series Are you being served?, later becoming even more famous as one of the stars in the TV soap opera Eastenders. So Billie took her chance, but while she was a hugely talented singer, her career was somewhat less successful than Wendy's.
Born Carol Hedges, she adopted her stage name by combining the names of two of her heroes, Billie Holiday and Sammy Davis. Her big solo hit came early in 1963 with her cover of Tell him, following up with a minor hit later that year. Disaster struck in the form of a nasty road accident in October 1963. The fall-out from that accident certainly didn't help her career. Apart from having to recover from her physical injuries, the accident was surrounded by scandal and that would have damaged her even if she'd emerged physically unscathed.
Billie continued recording for Decca until her contract ran out at the end of 1964, but some of the tracks during that period appear here. Looking at the credits, I see that Billie Davis now owns the masters to those tracks. The remainder of this compilation focuses on her period with Piccadilly, for which label she recorded several great singles in 1965 and 1966 including some duets with Keith Powell. As with the later Decca material, nothing charted, but the quality was high. Billie returned to Decca in 1967 and eventually had another hit for them in 1969, I want you to be my baby, but there is nothing here that was recorded after 1966.
This compilation gives a hint of what might have been, if luck and the music business had given Billie Davis a fair chance. If you've listened to a compilation of Billie's Decca music including the hits and want to explore further, this collection is exactly what you're looking for. Come to think of it, you might actually prefer this collection anyway."