Helen Shapiro

'Tops' with Me

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Helen Shapiro's debut LP is a selection consisting primarily of covers of recent hits associated with other singers. It's an astonishingly wide array of material, associated with the Shirelles ("Will You Love Me Tomorrow?"), Elvis Presley ("Are You Lonesome Tonight?"), Marv Johnson ("You Got What It Takes"), Connie Francis ("Lipstick on Your Collar"), Bobby Darin ("Beyond the Sea"), Brenda Lee ("Sweet Nothin's"), and, from a uniquely British perspective in the jacket notes, Marty Wilde ("A Teenager in Love"), among others. She does well with the repertoire, backed by Martin Slavin & His Orchestra in tasteful fashion on most of it, and Shapiro was probably the only female singer in England at the time who would not embarrass herself covering an early Motown number, "You've Got What It Takes" -- in fact, that song, a convincingly raspy "Sweet Nothin's," and "A Teenager In Love" are the best tracks here. None of the rest is too memorable as a performance, or a threat to the originals. The primary goal seems to have been to show off the 15-year-old singer's range, intonation, and control, which this disc does admirably. Most of the contents of this LP subsequently appeared on two EPs, and some of the best of those appear on See for Miles' The EP Collection disc. The 24-bit remastering on some editions, however, does impart extraordinary presence and depth to the sound.

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