SHEL’S GIRLS-FROM THE PLANET RECORDS VAULTS. 

Shel’s Girls-From The Planet Records Vaults.

Ace Records.

During the sixties and into the early seventies, Chicago-born Shel Talmy was one of the most successful and innovative producers working in the British music industry. He had arrived in Britain from Los Angeles in 1962, as a twenty-five year old. By then, his dreams of becoming a film director had been dashed.

This had happened nine years previously, when Shel Talmy attended  a routine check-up at his ophthalmologist. That day, the sixteen year old  discovered that he had  retinitis pigmentosa. This inherited degenerative eye disease meant that Shel Shalmy would eventually lose his sight. For Shel this was a crushing blow.

Realising his dream of becoming a film direction was in tatters, Shel Talmy was forced to rethink his plans for the future. He decided to settle on the next best thing and become a record producer. Shel was determined that when the time came, he would make his dream a reality. 

By 1961,  twenty-four year old Shel Talmy was ready to embark upon a career as a record producer. Rather than knocking on the doors of LA’s recording studios, he headed to one of Los Angeles’ many music business hang outs to network with music industry insiders.

At Martoni’s, Chicago-born Shel Talmy met Phil Yeend, a British expat who owned Conway’s Recorders. The two men talked and soon, Phil Yeend, offered twenty-four year old Shel Talmy a job as an engineer. By then, Phil Yeend had assured his newest employee that he would train him as an engineer.

Shel Talmy began work at Conway’s Recorders in early 1961. During his first three days at Conway’s Recorders, Shel was shown the basics, including how to work the board. After that, he was thrown in at the deep end. 

Over the next few months, Shel Talmy spent much of his time working with members of the legendary studio band the Wrecking Crew. They were by then, seasoned veterans who had a wealth of experience, and he was able to tap into their experience. Shel Talmy also found himself working with the Beach Boys and Lou Rawls during his first year as an engineer and producer. For Shel his first year at Conway’s Recorders was a whirlwind.

Shel Talmy also found himself working with Gary Paxton, who having started out as one half of Skip and Flip, was well on his way to becoming a successful producer. Meanwhile, his friend Nic Venet was the A&R man at Capitol Records. He allowed Shel to sit in on recording sessions with Bobby Darin. Through watching these sessions Shel learnt how to run a session. This was all part of his musical apprenticeship.

Back at Conway Recorders, when  Phil Yeend and Shel Talmy weren’t working with clients, they spent time experimenting with new recording techniques. Especially working out the best way to record guitars and drums. The pair were interested in the advantages of isolating instruments during the recording sessions. This was unheard of, but eventually, would become the norm. Shel was already innovating, and would continue do so throughout his career. 

When there was some downtime at Conway Recorders,  Phil Yeend allowed Shel Talmy to try out new recording techniques. This was all part of a steep learning curve.  However, this crash course in engineering and production would stand Shel Talmy in good stead for the future.

Especially when Shel Talmy decided to spend a few months working in Britain. This visit wasn’t planned. Instead, it was a case of curiosity getting  the better of Shel. During his time working with Phil Yeend, the Englishman had told him about life in Britain and how great a country it was. Eventually, Shel decided he would like to spend some time working in Britain.

Fortunately, a friend of Shel Talmy’s who worked at Liberty Records setup a meeting with Dick Rowe at Decca Records. When Shel Talmy went into the meeting, he wasn’t lacking in confidence and went as far as playing Dick Rowe acetates of some of the records that he had worked on. British record company executives in the early sixties weren’t used to such confident interviewees. However, Dick Rowe, who was a huge fan of all things American, liked Shel Talmy and hired him on the spot. 

Just over a year later, Shel Talmy and Dick James founded a new label, Planet Records. This joint venture was the start of a new chapter in Shel Talmy’s career. 

By then, he was well on his way to enjoying the most successful chapter in his musical career. This lasted seventeen years and saw Shel Talmy become one of the most successful producers working in Britain. During this period, Shel Talmy had the Midas touch. 

He discovered The Kinks, when their manager Robert Wace took a demo into one of music publishers on Denmark Street. When Robert Wace asked if anyone wanted to hear the demo, Shel Talmy answered in the affirmative. Having heard the demo and heard what he liked, Shel Talmy took The Kinks to Pye. 

Having signed to Pye, Shel Talmy produced The Kinks’ first five albums. During this period, The Kinks along with The Who another of Shel’s signing were two of the most successful British bands. However, it wasn’t just guitar-driven rock, mod and beat that the Shel produced. His eclectic taste saw him produce a variety of other artists, including “beat chick” recordings by  the girl group Goldie and The Gingerbreads and genre classics like Colette and The Bandits’ A Ladies Man. It features on a new compilation Shel’s Girls-From The Planet Records Vaults, which was recently released by Ace Records.

There’s twenty-four tracks on Shel’s Girls-From The Planet Records Vaults including No More Love by Liz Shelley which opens the compilation. It was released on Brunswick in 1966 a year after she released her debut single Make Me Your Baby, which featured the emotive and dramatic sounding You Made Me Hurt. On its release in 1965, it failed to make any impression on the charts, and just like the unreleased track Tar and Cement showcases a singer with the potential to follow in the footsteps of Petula Clark and crossover into the mainstream. Sadly, that wasn’t the case and Liz Shelley never enjoyed the commercial success her talented deserved.

Belfast-born Perpetual Langley only recorded two singles for Planet Records, and they both feature on the compilation. Her debut was We Wanna Stay Home which features a confident vocal. On the B-Side was So Sad, an emotive sounding Samba-tinged track. For her sophomore singleAshford and Simpson’s composition Surrender was released later in 1966, and features a powerhouse of a vocal. Tucked away on the B-Side was the  dance-floor friendly Two By Two. Sadly, after just two singles Perpetual Langley’s time at Planet Records was over.

In 1966, Planet Records released Bond girl Dani Sheridan’s single Guess I’m Dumb. It was cowritten by Russ Titleman and Brian Wilson, and it’s taken in a new direction by Dani Sheridan and is highly regarded by connoisseurs of the “beat chick” genre. On the flip-side was the Jon Marks penned Songs Of Love, an underrated track that showcases a talented singer who also enjoyed a career as an actress.

Shel’s Girls-From The Planet Records Vaults includes an alternate version of Colette and The Bandits’ genre classic A Ladies Man. Other unreleased tracks worth mentioning include Plain and Fancy’s cover of Ashford and Simpson’s Surrender. This allows the listener to compared it with Perpetual Langley’s version. Then there’s Margo and The Marvelletes’ defiant version of This Heart’s Not For Sale and Grave Digger which was recorded by Unknown Beat Girls.

One of the biggest “beat chick” groups were The Orchids.They contribute their 1963 single Gonna Make Him Mine on London Records. It featured Stay At Home on the B-Side. These two cuts are regarded as their best recordings. However, a year later, in 1964, the Coventry-based trio released Oo-Chang-A-Lang, which was penned by Shel Talmy and sounds as if its production values have been influenced by Phil Spector. Just a year later, it was all over for The Orchids who were now called The Exceptions. The group spilt-up in 1965 after two years working with Shel Talmy.

He’s best known for his work with The Kinks, The Who and The Easybeats as well as many other rock, mod and beat groups. However, Shel Talmy also worked with many of the “beat chick” artists and groups doing the sixties. Some of them feature on a new compilation by Ace Records Shel’s Girls-From The Planet Records Vaults. 

It’s the latest compilation that Ace Records has released that showcases an innovative producer. Back then, producers had to be able to think outside the box. They were hamstrung by what is now regarded as basic equipment. By being able to innovate, some producers were able to make groundbreaking recordings  with this basic equipment. This included George Martin, Phil Spector, Joe Meek, Jimmy Miller and Jack Nitzsche. To that list the name Shel Talmy can be added as he belongs in such illustrious company. 

After all, Shel Talmy wasn’t just a producer. He was a songwriter and talent spotter. However, first and foremost Shel Talmy is remembered as a pioneering producer who with an eclectic selection of artists and bands. This includes the “beat chicks” that feature on Shel’s Girls-From The Planet Records Vaults.The twenty-four tracks that feature on Shel’s Girls-From The Planet Records Vault are a reminder of a pioneering producer at the peak of his powers during what proved to be the most successful period of his career.

Shel’s Girls-From The Planet Records Vaults.

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