Beryl Marsden was one of the undeservedly neglected singers to come out of the Liverpool beat boom. A powerful vocalist with a fine sense of style, she was a precocious talent similar to Lulu in that she could bring her own style and stamp to American R&B and soul standards from her mid-teens onward. Born Beryl Hogg (and no relation to Gerry Marsden of Gerry & the Pacemakers) in Liverpool, she began her professional career backed by a band called the Crew and was signed to Decca Records in 1963. She released a pair of singles on the label that somehow failed to click, the first ("I Know") rather inexplicably and the second, a cover of "When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes," when the Supremes' version eclipsed it. Marsden had the distinction of being one of the earliest performers to be managed by Tony Stratton-Smith, a sports journalist turned music maven who later founded Charisma Records and managed such acts as the Nice, Genesis, and Lindisfarne. Marsden jumped to EMI's Columbia label in 1965 and lasted there for two singles, of which "Break-A-Way" -- arranged and conducted by Ivor Raymonde, outdoing his work with Dusty Springfield -- was a British pop-soul jewel. After the failure of her single "What's She Got" in 1966, Marsden changed her approach to music. Her solo career having failed to ignite sales, Marsden joined Rod Stewart in Shotgun Express and after that moved on to a stint with an all-girl band called She Trinity before linking up with Paddy Chambers (of Paddy, Klaus & Gibson) in a group called Sinbad. During the 1970s, she also performed as a member of a group called the Gamblers. Marsden was most visible on record as a session vocalist and resumed her work as a solo act in the 1980s. Perhaps her high point as a singer -- and the highest tribute ever paid this underrated talent -- was her stint performing as a member of the latter-day Martha & the Vandellas alongside Martha Reeves. Marsden never recorded enough during the 1960s to support a compilation album, much less a CD of her work, which has reappeared as part of anthologies such as Deram Records' The Girls' Scene ("When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes"), EMI's Beat at Abbey Road 1963-1965 ("Break-A-Way"), and her rendition of the Shirelles' "Everybody Loves a Lover" appeared on See for Miles' 1985 compilation LP At the Cavern.
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