Wednesday, February 21, 2024
13.4 C
Melbourne

Cream of The Crate: Lynne Randell – Ciao Baby

Rob Greaves
Rob Greaves
I have been with the Toorak Times since April 2012. I worked as Senior Editor of the Toorak Times until 2023, when I retired. I now work as a special features contributor for both the Toorak Times and Tagg. I've been in the Australian music scene as a musician since 1964, and have worked in radio and TV and newspapers (when they were actually printed on paper) as well as working in the film industry, as the Film Unit manager on Homicide for several years. I also have extensive experience in audio production and editing.

“I guess I’m just about one of the luckiest girls in the whole world. You see, I am only 17, I’ve had a hit record” (Lynne Randell – 16 Magazine April 1967)
At the age of 15, Lynne became one of the darlings of the Australian pop industry.”(jukeboxsaturday .com)
Lynne Randell has cemented a place in Australian music history.”(This review)


cream of the crate: lynne randell – ciao baby
This was album review number one hundred and forty five in a series of retro-reviews of both vinyl and CD albums from my collection.

The series was called Cream of The Crate and each review represents an album that I believe represents significant musical value, either because of its rarity, because it represents the best of a style or styles of a music or because there is something unique about the music, the group or the particular production. The first fifty reviews were based on vinyl albums from my collection, with the following fifty on CD albums from my collection. Links to all these reviews can be found at the bottom of the page.

The artist is Lynne Randell and this is her only album – Ciao Baby. The album is in a vinyl format and was released on the Raven label and it has the identifying code of RVLP-25 and was released in 1986. The album has 15 tracks, pretty much reflecting all the music recorded by Lynne.

cream of the crate: lynne randell – ciao baby
Sometimes a music career break comes from talent, sometimes from luck – being in the right place at the right time and sometimes it’s a combination of these elements. Lynne actually had a geographic pedigree, when back in the early 1960’s everything British was embraced and especially if it had a Liverpool connection which made it even more desireable.

Lynne Randell was born in Liverpool in 1949 and emigrated with her parents to Australia in 1954, eventually settling in Melbourne. By the time the 1963 had arrived the young Lynne was totally enamoured by the music scene which was exploding in Melbourne and indeed around Australia, as a result of the “British Invasion”, indeed led by artists and groups from liverpool. However, her dream was not to be an artist but to be a famous hairdresser.

 

She had designed her own mod hair style and in her early life she had never mentioned singing – it was always hairdressing. However by fourteen Lynne was starting to get singing jobs during her school holidays.

During this time she approached Lillian Frank a famous celebrity hairdresser who was located right in the middle of the well to do and famous folk of Toorak. Lillian was impressed with the young enthusiastic youngster and when she discovered Lynne was also a singer that completed the package and a great addition to her Salon.

This fortuitous employment was further made more incredible when aspiring “pop manager” Carol West happened to drop in to have her hair done and heard the young Lynne singing away at the shampoo basin.

West liked what she heard!

cream of the crate: lynne randell – ciao baby
A demo recording resulted from an incident when Lynne was singing at her own 15th birthday, which was held at Carol West’s house. With a hired backing group she was singing “House of the Rising Sun”, just popularised by the Animals, when well known and highly respected DJ Stan Rolfe walked in and was stunned at what he heard.

The story goes he immediately arranged for a demo disc to be cut and before she knew it Lynne was at EMI recording a cover of Lulu’s “I’ll Coming Running Over”. All of a sudden it was TV appearances, her being awarded her “Most Popular Female Vocalist” (1966) award by Helen Shapiro, a run of successful live shows, it was all happening for the young mod.

cream of the crate: lynne randell – ciao babyLynne & Helen Shapiro

I could say, the rest is history! But her story actually has a few more twists and turns.

In 1966 “Little Miss Mod” recorded one of her most loved tracks, Going Out Of My Head. Armed with a successful single and the Go Set award as the Top Pop Girl Singer, she jetted over to New York to meet with the executives at Epic Records.

During some free time Lynne visited the famous basin Street east Club to see Dusty Springfield. Now the Monkees had just hit it really big around this time and Davey Jones was at the club that night. Not only was Lynne attempting to further promote her singing career she was writing for Go Set.

The story goes that she sent a note to Jones asking for an interview and before she knew it, she was in the back of a horse drawn cab in Central Park with Jones and his date for the night, and up and coming writer, Carol Bayer.

During the discussions Jones discovered that Lynne was a singer and took her to the Sherry Netherlands Hotel and introduced her to one of the most powerful figures in the teen marketing business – Gloria Stavers (16 Magazine). Gloria pulled out a camera and took a picture of Jones with Lynne resting her head on his shoulder, and suddenly the picture was all around the world declaring that Lynne was Jones’ new girlfriend.

cream of the crate: lynne randell – ciao babyThe famous “head on shoulders” picture cream of the crate: lynne randell – ciao babyPublicity shot for Teen 16 magazine


At this point Lynne recorded her first US single – Ciao Baby! While acclaimed in Australia it flirted around the bottom of the US charts, but it was enough with her connections for her to be the opening act for several Monkees concerts.

But Lynne was really a “wholesome” girl, and the “scene” she found herself in was not to her liking. When flying in the Monkees airplane she witnessed many sexual activities, none of which she was comfortable with – but because she had such a “wholesome” look, she was never forced into anything but neither was anything hidden from her.

One of the most infamous mis-matches of acts of all time was that of the great Jimi Hendrix and the Monkees being on the same bill, with the Monkees getting top billing.

Lynne opened for Jimi, which was a disaster, and Jimi opened for the Monkees, which was even a bigger disaster. Despite this she and Hendrix actually became friends. But the end was near. Not long after Peter Tork, during one of their flights, tried to convince Lynne to drop some acid, but she refused. it seems as though he may have been very put out, and made a point of entering into a five-way tryst with four other girls on the flight making certain it was all within the sight of Lynne.

cream of the crate: lynne randell – ciao babyLynne with Peter Tork

Not so strangely, her career seemed to drop off from this point. She did gain US citizenship and did keep recording, one such track being That’s A Hoe Down. But the “Mod” era had passed, the choice of material for her was getting silly and finally, she reacted badly to a throwaway line by her manager about her being too “fat” to fit into a dress, and started the slippery slide down the drug path – which given her disdain for all things drugs previously, was ironic.

She did get married and did have a son but under the strain of her addiction her marriage crumbled and she returned to Australia, staying with Molly Meldrum. The year was 1980. She worked as his PA for the next six years and wanting to be with her son, when she received an offer to become the PA to Seymour Stein, head of the Sire Label (which included $5K to relocate). She left Molly and stayed with Stein for two years.

Lynne returned to Australia in the 1990’s and although receiving enthusiastic receptions at various 60’s revival concerts, her addiction was as bad as ever and it took her until the early 2000’s to really try and kick the problem. By then her son was living in Melbourne and desperate to rebuild the relationship she tried hard to get clean and healthy, but the ravages of so many years being addicted took its toll and she was found dead in her Toorak home on Friday 8 June 2007.

This is the only album of her music. She recorded 9 singles and had 2 EPs released. Raven Records, who are a renowned reissue specialist, released this album in 1986, consisting of the tracks released on her singles.

Track Listing:

Side 1
1. I’ll Come Running Over
2. Be Sure
3. Hold Me
4. A Love Like You
5. Forever
6. I’ve Got A Notion
7.
Summertime

Side 2
1. Ciao Baby
2. Heart
3. Going Out Of My Mind*
4. That’s A Hoe Down
5. I Need You Boy
6.
Stranger In My Arms
7. Take The Bitter With My Sweet
8. That’s What Love Is Made Of

* The correct title is Going Out Of My Head
cream of the crate: lynne randell – ciao babyRear of the LP – Ciao Baby

Side 1, Track 1 – always a good place to start and this is a good track to start with.

This was the first her first single with EMI, after they heard the demo that Stan Rolfe organised. Released in 1964 by Lulu, that version reached number 7, and when Lynne released her version a year later, it also raced to the number 7 position in Melbourne. This was an excellent achievement for the young 16 year old who had, until this time, almost no exposure whatsoever.

Like many of her covers, there was an energy that fully supported a good voice. Lynne was fresh and enthusiastic and it comes through on this track. We should not underestimate the effort of a top 10 track in a year that saw the Rolling Stones on our charts with “Under The Boardwalk” and “Satisfaction”, The Beatles with “I Feel Fine” and “Ticket To Ride”, Normie Rowe with “Que Sera Sera”, and the Seekers with “I’ll Never Find Another You”. The competition was really hot.

I’ll Come Running Over

If we accept that pop generally ruled during this period then there really are no ‘weak” tracks on the album. Obviously some are stronger than others but they all tell a story and in searching for something with a different twist I find that I have moved down to the final track on this side of the LP, to the track Summertime.

This is quite a remarkably good rendition of a George Gershwin classic. Now Gershwin lovers may very well have turned white when this was released, but this is a rockin’ arrangement – although in due deference to the time and her nickname as “Little Miss Mod”, I guess calling it a “rock” rendition is inappropriate. But the thing moves along at a good uptempo pace and never once does Lynne’s voice struggle, in fact it may be said that really, she never gets out of second gear, yet the track doesn’t suffer for this.

The B-side to A Love Like You, the single charted in 1965 within the top 40.

Summertime

Side 2 is the stronger side in my opinion and it has some fantastic tracks on it.

Track 1 on side 2 is Ciao Baby – the first track Lynne cut in the USA. Now maybe the Americans were spoilt for choice or maybe they were just not listening hard enough. The track really failed to gain the public’s attention in the USA but in Australia this 1967 track was the one that made her a “star” in our eyes and in our ears. It was the recording that took the doubt out of the minds of the American record producers that she might not have any talent. She had it in spades.

The track reached number 6 in Melbourne and number 16 in Sydney during May 1967. Ciao Baby was written by songwriting duo Larry Weiss and Scott English, who also wrote “Bend Me, Shape Me” (a UK hit for Amen Corner), “Help Me Girl” (The Animals) and “Hi Ho Silver Lining” (Jeff Beck). While a little more down tempo than some previous tracks, the pace and delivery of the lyrics, along with the passion that Lynne was still instilling in her recordings, means the track not only touched us back in 1967, it stands the test of time today.

The lyrics themselves are not deep and meaningful, hell this is “pop” music, but they are easy to follow and most importantly – easy to sing along with. Oh, a couple of things about the lyrics – Ciao is often thought of as meaning “hello” or “goodbye”, colloquially in Italian, yet a recent article written by italians for visitors says, “Ciao (pronounced CHOW) as we know it today has its roots in the Venetian dialect, where the phrase s-ciào vostro meant “I am your slave“. It should not be used when in Italy!” So there!!!

Now why the lyrics have Ciao written as Ciau, is a mystery. I did try to find an answer, but I can’t. If you put “ciau” into any Italian to English translation program, it comes out as “ciau”!!! Was it an original transcription error that has been repeated? Who knows, and frankly, even though I raised it, who really cares?

Ciau baby, let’s call it a day
Ciau baby, go ahead and throw my love away
No baby it’s too late to change a minus day
Please don’t drag it out much longer
Leave before the hurt gets stronger, ciau

I should have known
You would be the very first to cast a stone
You’re not to blame
It’s your friends that have left in me the rain

They filled your head with wonder
They said I’d drag you under
Now you’ve lost sight of my love
It’s time to say goodbye, love

Ciau baby, let’s call it a day
Ciau baby, go ahead and throw my love away
No baby it’s too late to change a minus day
Please don’t drag it out much longer
Leave before the hurt gets stronger, ciau

Fly like a bird
Freedom’s here and I release you from your word
Don’t turn around
You may find that your feet are on the ground

Your world is shy to find me
You’ve got to try to fight me
No room for us together
I guess nothing lasts forever

Ciau baby, let’s call it a day-ay
Ciau baby, go ahead and throw my love away
No baby it’s too late to change a minus day
Please don’t drag it out much longer
Leave before the hurt gets stronger, ciau

Ciau baby, let’s call it a day-ay
Ciau baby, go ahead and throw my love away
No baby ït’s too late to change

Ciao Baby

Track 2 on side 2 was always a favourite of mine. Heart was originally recorded (and written) by Petula Clark. Lynne’s version, which has been variously described as “thrilling” and “impassioned”, utterly craps all over the original version. Produced by Norwegian-born maestro Sven Libaek, it is a testament to her ability to take a track recorded by someone else, and let’s not forget Pet Clark was a big, big star at the time. Yet again it was a case of her taking a previously recorded track, re-recording it and making it “hers”.

cream of the crate: lynne randell – ciao baby
The track starts with quite an impassioned plea, and builds into a delightful piece of dance music that was quite uplifting at the time. What is a shame is that there doesn’t appear to be any record of who played what instrument on her recordings, as this track has some damn fine playing on it. One of the clever little techniques used to assist in the increase of feeling in the track, is that it modulates up a semitone twice, simple, but effective,

The track was actually released a year prior to Ciao Baby, and why they don’t attempt to keep the tracks on a compilation album in order of release is beyond me, anyway it reached #15 in Melbourne, #24 in Brisbane and #39 in Perth.

Heart

It’s impossible to skip over track number 3Going Out Of My Head or rather, as the liner notes mislabel it – Going Out Of My Mind.

Originally recorded by Little Anthony and The Imperials in 1964, it has been covered by no less than 58 other artists as diverse as Dr. John, Wes Montgomery, Frank Sinatra, Smokey Robinson, Cilla Black and Petula Clarke, to name just a few.

So why would a young Aussie girl chose to cover this track as well? Not surprisingly that question can’t be answered, but what is clear that on recording this track, yet again, Lynne did a remarkably good job on her cover which resulted in reaching a decent #14 nationally in 1966 and #12 in Melbourne.

Interestingly while the original version and those by Pet Clark and Cilla Black and indeed Lynne all start with the same piano chord – sounding very similar, Lynne’s version is slightly more uptempo – and it makes a difference. Ostensibly there is little difference in the arrangements, but Lynne’s version is equal to all those mentioned and it makes me wonder if it weren’t for the drugs and the almost insane concern she had over her weight, that her career might not have been even more successful and certainly lasted longer.  This track shows clearly this girl had talent.

Going Out Of My Mind (Head)

My final track for your consideration is track number 4 on side 2– That’s a Hoe Down.

On becoming a US citizen in 1967 she cut this track at with Albert Hammond producing. The track features a rather neat guitar lick by the late Hugh McKracken who played guitar on the Monkees track, “Last train To Clarksville”. This track was to be her last charting single, which fared well, making the Top 20 in Melbourne (#19) and reaching #26 in Adelaide.

In fact this period was kind of like a final burst of real “Randell Sunlight”, as not only did the single do well but she won her second Go Set award for “Most Popular Female Vocalist“.

In many ways it was downhill from here on despite releasing a single in the subsequent two years, she simply seemed to lose her sparkle and was a victim of changing tastes. This is the track I like to remember as her last one – as it still captures that spirited approach to her singing.

That’s A Hoe Down

There was a brief time when Lynne Randell was certainly considered as our top female vocalist. While her recorded repertoire certainly reflects her place as a “pop singer”, there can be no doubt of her talent and vocal abilities. For a while she was the right girl in the right place and it seemed as though the sky was the limit.

However her struggle with her addiction and the fast changes in styles of music the public responded to in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s either caught her or her management off-guard.

cream of the crate: lynne randell – ciao baby

Mind you, working with the Monkees, befriending Hendrix, living in New York and then returning to Burwood in Victoria, it must have been a hard “come-down”.

As the old saying goes, the higher you climb, the further you fall. But now, it is totally appropriate to forgive her failings and to concentrate on the energy, style and vocal abilities that rightly had her dubbed as “Little Miss Mod”. Lynne Randell has cemented a place in Australian music history.

For collectors, Ciao Baby on Raven is her only LP, so there are no other choices. It seems to be in high demand. Discogs had two copies available for A$40.00 and $60.00 respectively. There were no copies on Ebay.

cream of the crate: lynne randell – ciao baby


VIDEOS – fortunately there are some live performances on youtube and the fact that some were from the period when she was at her top, make them even more valuable.


Ciao Baby [The official promo clip]


Heart


Going Out Of My Head


Glenn A Baker talks to Lynne about the Monkeys – believed to be circa 1985

Rob Greaves

I have been with the Toorak Times since April 2012. I worked as Senior Editor of the Toorak Times until 2023, when I retired. I now work as a special features contributor for both the Toorak Times and Tagg. I've been in the Australian music scene as a musician since 1964, and have worked in radio and TV and newspapers (when they were actually printed on paper) as well as working in the film industry, as the Film Unit manager on Homicide for several years. I also have extensive experience in audio production and editing.

- Advertisement -
  • auto draft
  • tagg gig guide - add event
- Advertisement -
  • best in travel australia - sidebar 600x300
  • cocktails 300x600
- Advertisement -

CONTINUE READING