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Song of the day – 119: Lulu

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Following on from my post about Sidney Poitier/Segun Bucknor, I had to post this…

Here’s what I had to say about Lulu on my Record Rummage blog.

LULU
sings To Sir With Love
(Epic, circa 60s)

They don’t write sleeve notes like this anymore: “Most young girls do progress ‘from crayons to perfume’. It is a nice way to go. That is a phrase Lulu sings in To Sir With Love, the tile song in a fine, perceptive film that begins with tension, biting nails, embarrassment, awe, telling tales and schoolgirl days of astonishment and emerges – with a sense of appreciation – to hair curlers, young womanhood and a deep sense of maturity.” What can we say? The title track is a solid gone, high strung, full on groove (and also a bastard to tackle at karaoke, you have been warned). On this US release, the irrepressible, husky-voiced Lulu takes on the Brothers Gibb, Neil Diamond, Lennon and McCartney, Tim Rose… and wins every time. This is pop music, pure pop music, invested with just an iota too much soul for it to be flip or throwaway. There’s a totally rocking version of “Day Tripper” on the flip, even faster than Otis Redding’s take. Yet it’s the title track we keep returning to every time. Raw, piquant sexuality expressed with all the confusion and desire of a teenager growing up in the confusing hullabaloo that was the 60s. The strings soar, Lulu lingers poignantly over her opening lines, slightly afraid yet eager to get on with the song and indeed her life. The arrangement is understated yet ripe with meaning, like one of The Three Degrees’ more sultry moments or The Supremes when they discovered a social consciousness, with a bass line that yearns to rush into “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”. ‘To Sir With Love’ is produced by Mickie Most, a toady old scrote who knew a thing or two about hit records and just loved to remind you. On the front cover, Lulu is the very definition of fresh-faced and even when she appears on our TV screens now, she still looks younger than stars 30 years her junior. The sleeve notes ends thus: “Lulu sings ‘To Sir with Love’. Her skirts are mini. Her talent is maximum.” What more can we add?
Cost 75p, bargain value 8, inner sleeve 0

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