Cherry Red Album Reviews – Dec 2014 by Long John


Golden Lights

Twinkle (Lynn Ripley) may not be the first name that springs to mind when thinking of British female singers from the 1960s. Lulu, Sandy Shaw, Cilla Black, Helen Shapiro, Petula Clark and Dusty Springfield normally head that particular list. However, Twinkle was arguably the only UK female singer who wrote the majority of her own material. Twinkle’s life as a pop star was short lived and she is largely only remembered for the teen tragedy and top ten hit single Terry.  However, Cherry Red Records have decided that the time is right to jog the memory of pop aficionados and have reissued her entire output on CD. Pop historian and prodigious record collector Bob Stanley (who is best known for being one third of St Etienne) has also contributed extensive liner notes, which make it even more attractive to fans of 1960s pop music.

Twinkle was signed to Decca in 1964 and made a rapid entry into the charts with the self-penned hit single Terry. This song was about a girl mourning the death of her boy friend in a motorcycle crash and pre dated the Shangri-Las more famous Leader of the Pack by several months. Twinkle’s teenage tragedy ballad was deemed in bad taste by the BBC and subsequently banned, however, the song still stormed to number 4 in the charts and was Twinkle’s one and only top ten hit.

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Twinkle was not in the unusual position of having no control over her music, despite being a credible songwriter at such a young age. She was under pressure as her contemporaries were to come up with the hits, and her record company Decca was only too ready to make her record songs that she did not particularly feel comfortable singing. It was not unusual for record companies like Decca to draft in producers and songwriters to produce hits that would appeal to a teenage audience. However, what this did was stifle Twinkle’s somewhat obvious song writing talent and ultimately dilute her music. By 1966 Twinkle retired from the music business at the ripe old age of 17, only sporadically reappearing to record the occasional single including, Micky/Darby and Joan in 1969. 

There are 17 songs in total on this compilation and only a handful of them could be considered stand out tracks. Despite Decca’s best efforts to write hits for Twinkle it were her own songs, which stand out on this CD. Golden Lights was another self penned song and is by far the most superior song on this compilation, and it deserved to do better than the number 21position it reached in the singles chart in 1965. The Smiths covered Golden Lights as Morrissey is (not surprisingly) a self confessed fan of Twinkle and girl singers from the 1960s. This particular song is about a girl who loses her boyfriend once he found fame as a pop star, and it was inspired by Twinkle’s attendance at a Bachelors concert in Blackpool in 1964. Her then boyfriend Dec Cluskey was a member of this popular beat group, and this fictitious tale would turn out to be prophetic as the couple split soon after, only for Twinkle to start dating Herman’s Hermits front man Peter Noone.

You would be forgiven for thinking that after releasing a couple of very promising singles like Terry and Golden Lights, that Twinkle had a bright future in store for her.  However, Golden Lights failure to trouble the top ten of the charts disappointed Decca, and they were eager for Twinkle to repeat the success of Terry. However, this never happened and a further 4 single releases all flopped, and the disillusionment of having no control over her own singing career, Twinkle simply retired from Pop music.

This compilation will only really appeal to rabid fans of 1960s pop music, and may well be worth the gamble for Twinkle’s 2 hit singles alone. It is ironic that Decca saw fit to stifle Twinkle’s song writing talents for hit singles that never materialized, and nearly 50 years on it is her own compositions that are by far and away the most impressive songs on this album. These 2 songs and a handful of other songs, including Poor Old Johnny, The End of the World and Soldier’s Dream briefly showcased a talent that was sadly stifled by Decca’s insistence for smash hit singles. BUY HERE!

Long John

Charming Chap and a new sharp force for Eyeplug, being a toppermost writer with a keen appreciation for things of quality and distinction. A well known face on the London ‘Mod’ Scene but with an open mind and heart. Got a strange interest in Pirates? One to watch out for!

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