Millie Small

My Boy Lollipop

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"She's Millie Small, vivacious, bubbling, singing sensation from the land of sunshine and calypso," the sleeve notes explain. Not that there was really any need for an introduction, for indeed the tiny, vivacious Jamaican singer had taken Britain by storm, launching the Blue Beat boom and rocketing ska into the U.K. chart with her debut U.K. single "My Boy Lollipop." An album was the obvious next step, and Small set about recording with all the excitement of a child set loose in a candy store. And, in a way, that's exactly what the 16-year-old was. Her exuberance positively bleeds from the grooves, you can just about hear her grinning. Across ten covers and two co-written numbers, Small belts out the songs, with the backing sessionmen blending in big band sounds all set to an insistent jumped-up beat. And that was what it was really all about. So whether she's covering Fats Domino's "I'm in Love Again," Neil Sedaka's "Since You've Been Gone," or the old folk song "Tom Hark," it's all ska, pure and simple, and the album never flags. Most of the songs are suitably fluffy, and generally about boys, of course, from "Blue Louey" to "Sweet William," and on to "Sugar Dandy," where Small reaches unimaginable heights of ecstatic shrillness. And while that shrill, adenoidal voice was charming on a single, it can become a little wearing across an entire album. However, the Blue Beat Girl, as she was known, is working so hard to make us like her -- it seems cruel to complain -- and for fans this was a sheer firecracker of a record.

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