BEAT GIRLS ESPANOL! 1960S SHE-POP FROM SPAIN.

Beat Girls Español! 1960s She-Pop From Spain.

Label: Ace International.

In the early sixties, a new style of beat-oriented pop became popular not just in Britain and Europe, but as far afield as Japan. This new genre the French christened yé-yé, which was popular right through to the late-sixties, and transformed the career of many singers and girl groups. They became part of the yé-yé phenomenon that was sweeping Britain, Europe and Japan.

Right up until around 1968, yé-yé singers and girl groups enjoyed a string of hit singles not just in their own country, but other parts of Europe. Many of the yé-yé singers recorded singles in several languages, and as a result, enjoyed hits across continental Europe. Some yé-yé singers also enjoyed parallel careers as actresses and models and went on to enjoy long and successful careers. However, for some, life after their career as a yé-yé singer was over, they were happy to head to university or return to a “normal” career. They had enjoyed life as a yé-yé singer, which was an experience that they would never forget. That is sure to be the case with all the artists on Beat Girls Español! 1960s She-Pop From Spain, which was recently released by Ace International, an imprint of Ace Records.

Beat Girls Español! 1960s She-Pop From Spain is the latest instalment in the long-running and successful Beat Girls series, which is curated by Mick Patrick. Previously, the series has focused on girl singers and girl groups for England, France, Italy, Japan and Sweden. This time though, Mick Patrick turns his attention to the Spanish yé-yé girls and girl groups.

Just like other countries where yé-yé was popular, British and American hit singles from the early sixties influenced the Spanish yé-yé girls and girl groups. However, the Spanish yé-yé sound had a slightly different sound and ergo musical identity. This included sensuous rhythms and a degree of drama similar to that found in flamenco. This was yé-yé, but given a quintessentially Spanish twist by the one of the country’s main record labels.

This was Hispavox which back in the yé-yé era, was regarded as the most important Spanish record label. That was no surprise as Hispavox was hone to some of best and most talented arrangers, producers and session musicians who created what became known as the Torrelaguna sound. One of the most successful purveyors of the Torrelaguna sound was Karina, who was regarded as Queen of Spanish yé-yé. However, soon, others were challenging the Queen for her crown. 

This included the yé-yé singers that the Zafiro label discovered, including Marisol, an actress who enjoyed a parallel career as a singer. It was a similar case with another star of the silver screen Soledad Miranda. Then there was Sonia, whose best known for her unforgettable cover of the Rolling Stones Get Off Of My Cloud. However, Novola Records Massiel was different from many of her contemporaries as she was a singer-songwriter. She attained hero status Spain after winning the Eurovision Song Contest. These are just a few of the Spanish yé-yé singers who feature on Beat Girls Español! 1960s She-Pop From Spain.

Opening Beat Girls Español! 1960s She-Pop From Spain was Corazón Contento which singer and actress Marisol released on Zafiro in 1968. It features a driving, stomping arrangement where strings sweep and swirl and Marisol delivers a vocal that is a mixture of power and emotion. This is a potent and heady brew that sets the bar high for the rest of the compilation.

The Queen of Spanish yé-yé Karina, was also a successful actress by the time she released Ya Verás on an EP on the Hispavox label in 1967. By then, Karina was twenty-three and had been releasing singles since 1961. The punchy Ya Verás which features a rueful, heartfelt vocal from Ya Verás shows why she was regarded as the Queen of Spanish yé-yé. So does her 1971 single on Hispavox, Yo Te Diré, which is a beautiful ballad where Karina delivers a tender vocal full of emotion. Despite the yé-yé era being over, Karina enjoyed yet another hit single and continued to be one of the most successful singers of her generation.

In 1966, beat group Los Stop who were led by yé-yé singer Christina released their debut single Molino Al Viento on the Belter label. It’s a polished performance where a stomping beat, washes of swirling Hammond and bells that chime accompany Christina’s vocal powerhouse before the song reaches a memorable crescendo. who unleashes a vocal powerhouse Molino Al Viento which was released on the Belter label in 1966. Christina’s vocal is accompanied by a stomping beat, washes of swirling Hammond and bells that chime. Despite such an assured performance, commercial success eluded the single.

By the time  Rosalia signed to the Barcelona-based Belter label she was already a vastly experienced singer. However, success had eluded her over the last couple of years, and signing to Belter was the start of a new chapter in her career. Her second single for Belter was Si Llegara El Amor, which she released as a single in 1969. It had already been recorded by Lulu as Are You Ready For Love? The song was given a makeover and an orchestral arrangement accompanied Rosalia’s vocal which is a mixture of power and passion. Sadly, despite the quality of the single, commercial success eluded Si Llegara El Amor.

The time Adriángela spent at Zafiro proved to be the most fruitful and successful of her career. One of her finest moments at Zafiro was Nunca Hay Bastante, which was released as a single in 1965. It features a string-drenched cinematic arrangement which is the perfect backdrop for a vocal that veers between emotive to heartfelt to soulful and powerful. It’s a reminder of Adriángela in her prime.

After winning the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest with La, La, La, Massiel became one of Spain’s most successful yé-yé singers, and was popular in other parts of Europe, including the UK. However, way before she won the Eurovision Song Contest, Massiel released No Sé Por Qué as single on the Novola label. Following her victory in the Eurovision Song Contest Massiel released Las Rocas Y El Mar which the nineteen year old had cowritten. Despite being a far superior song to La, La, La, commercial success eluded Las Rocas Y El Mar which is one of the hidden gems in Massiel back-catalogue.

Although Lorella’s career began in the second half of the fifties, she had reinvented herself as a beat single by the time she released the beautiful ballad Tendrás Que Llorar on RCA in 1965. It’s one of the highlights of Beat Girls Español! 1960s She-Pop From Spain, and a reminder of a talented and versatile vocalist.

Las Chic was a four piece all-girl group, which was something a rarity in Span. The Hisparox label spotted this gap in the market, and promptly signed Las Chic. When they released their debut EP in 1965, the lead track was featured Pon Un Anillo En Mi Dedo. This was a cover of Put A Ring On My Finger which had been recorded by American singer Jaye P. Morgan. Despite being a bright, breezy and catchy sounding song Pon Un Anillo En Mi Dedo failed to catch the imagination of record buyers, and after two EPs Las Chic were no more.

Ivana is another yé-yé girl who features twice on the compilation. Her first contribution is  El Es Distinto A Ti which was released on Columbia in 1969. It’s a ballad that sounds as if it belongs on the soundtrack to the Spanish equivalent of the James Bond films. The other contribution from Ivana is Quiero Romper Tus Cartas which was released on Columbia in 1968. This a very different type of song. The arrangement is uptempo and jaunty with bursts of drums and swaths of strings accompanying Ivana’s powerful and impressive vocal. These two songs show very different sides to Ivana.

Marisol’s second contribution is Tiene La Tarara which was is based on a traditional song, and was released on Zafiro in 1967. Again, it features an urgent, pounding beat and a degree of urgency to Marisol’s performance which has obviously influenced by flamenco. Adding the finishing touch is crystalline guitar which join 

Conchita Velasco released Calor as a single on Belter in 1965. It features a moody, atmospheric and cinematic arrangement, which provides the backdrop for Conchita Velasco’s vocal powerhouse. She sings call and response with her backing vocalists before there’s a sting in the tail as Calor draws to close. It’s the final track on Beat Girls Español! 1960s She-Pop From Spain, which is the latest addition this long-running compilation series. 

Over the last few years, Ace International’s Beat Girls’ compilation series, has been one of Ace Records’ most popular series. That is no surprise as the compilers have travelled far and wide in search of the creme de la creme of music from the sixties’ Beat Girls.

Previous sojourns have found the Ace International team pitch up in Japan, before heading to Europe, for crate-digging expeditions in Britain, Italy, France and Swede. This time though, the destination was Spain, which also has a rich musical heritage. 

Some of the artists on Beat Girls Español! 1960s She-Pop From Spain went on to enjoy long and successful careers, while others turned their back on music after the yé-yé era was over. It began in the early sixties and lasted until the late-sixties. However, in Spain, some of the yé-yé girls were still releasing successful singles until the early seventies. They were the lucky ones.

Elsewhere, the yé-yé era was over by 1968. That was the case for many of the artists on Beat Girls Español! 1960s She-Pop From Spain. However, the most successful of the yé-yé singers enjoyed a longevity that other singers could only dream of.

Some singers, including Conchita Velasco who became a popular entertainer in Spain, enjoyed a Conchita career that lasted over sixty years. Other singers also enjoyed lengthy careers, although not necessarily in music. A number of the Spanish yé-yé singers were also enjoying parallel careers as actresses, and enjoyed a career on the silver screen after the yé-yé era was over. Sadly, other singers and groups on Beat Girls Español! 1960s She-Pop From Spain enjoyed just brief careers, which were over before they had begun. However, their musical legacy were some of the hidden gems on Beat Girls Español! 1960s She-Pop From Spain.

These hidden gems rub shoulders on Beat Girls Español! 1960s She-Pop From Spain with hits, near misses, rarities and oft-overlooked songs. The result is another carefully curated and welcome addition to the Beat Girls’ series, Beat Girls Español! 1960s She-Pop From Spain.

Beat Girls Español! 1960s She-Pop From Spain.

3 Comments

  1. I’ve never heard of yé-yé girls but it’s fascinating to read about

    • Hi Steve,

      Glad that you enjoyed the article on the Spanish yé-yé girls. It was a really popular scene for about five or six years, and even today the music is still popular. It’s good that The Ace Records is documenting the scene and their reissues are the perfect introduction to the yé-yé music.

      Regards,
      Derek.

  2. Some of these ladies have a zillion hits on youtube. Great write up and I, too, had never heard of many of the ye-ye girls!

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