The Orchids were a trio of 15-year-old girls from Coventry who went from winning a local talent contest to national television and an international recording career. Georgina Oliver, Pamela Oliver, and Valerie Jones won their contest at Coventry's Orchid Ballroom, thus acquiring their name, and fell right into the managerial arms of Larry Page (renowned for his later work with the Troggs), who played up their youth and innocence. They were signed to English Decca in 1963 and released the first of three British singles that year, "Gonna Make Him Mine" b/w "Stay at Home," produced by Shel Talmy and picked up on Ready! Steady! Go! Despite that exposure, the single didn't chart, but the trio was unusual enough in England (where "girl" singers tended to be in their twenties) to get lots of television appearances and even a spot in the movie Just for You, singing "Mr. Scrooge." Their second single, "Love Hit Me," received a huge, Phil Spector Wall-of-Sound-style production that got the trio pegged as England's (or at least Decca's) answer to the Crystals. Perhaps so, but it never sold in any numbers resembling the Crystals' releases, and their third single, "I've Got That Feeling" (written by no less than Ray Davies), closed out their careers in England. In America, however, where the trio was billed as the Blue Orchids (in deference to an existing singing group called the Orchids), one last record, "Oo-Chang-A-Lang," surfaced, a U.S.-only release on London. That single, a near dead-ringer for "Da Do Ron Ron" (with a break dominated by strings and horns), concluded the group's Phil Spector period. In 1965, owing to the conflict over the name, the group was rechristened the Exceptions, releasing a lone single, "What More Do You Want" b/w "Soldier Boy" on Decca Records. The latter song wasn't a cover of the Shirelles old hit, but an original by Georgina Oliver with a delectable chorus ("March march march little soldier boy"), on which the trio, now 17, got a black American sound down perfectly -- even heard today, more than 30 years later, the listener want to swear that it's the work of a black American trio. It was, alas, the trio's last gasp as a group, but retains a serious level of respect by all who have heard it.
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