Sandie Shaw was 171/: when her second ever record. ‘Always Something There To Remind Me‘. topped the singles charts for three weeks in 1964.
Over the next three swinging years. Sandie Shaw held the pop world in the grasp of her ten naked toes. Talent-spotted in Adam Faith‘s dressing room. she became the barefoot singer ofa string of assertive. celebratory hit singles like ‘1‘“ Stop At Nothing‘ and ‘Long Live Love‘.
In the Seventies Sandie Shaw. by her own current admission. ‘wasn‘t very well. I was having problems — every kind of problem you can think of. I had.‘
In the Eighties. so far. Sandie Shaw has on several occasions found herself remembered. revered. reconstructed and reactivated. and with help from neurotic boy rock stars like Morrisey of'l‘hc Smiths and Lloyd Cole. she thinks that this time her true singing selfcan be revealed. remoulded fora modern audience.
Two years after releasing her giddy version of ‘Hand in Glove‘ with The Smiths. Sandie has finally followed it up with a rowdy rendition of Lloyd Cole‘s ‘Are You Ready to be Heartbroken?‘ and at 39 is putting her nerves to the enormous test of her first rock tour with a young band.
When the teenage Sandie. Sandra Goodrich to her parents. was the exuberant Dagenham girl who kicked off her shoes and bared her soul. she stood for every baby- boomerette with a pay packet. the Pill and uncertain hopes for a new freedom that their pre-feminist sensibilities had yet to articulate.
Ofcourse. though Cilla. Sandie. Dusty and Julie appeared to be projecting a social revolutionary image. glamourised by Pop‘s new democracy— straight from the typing pool to Top oft/1e Pops — their singing careers were being diverted down safer. sugar-coated showbiz paths by manipulative Tin Pan Alley managers. Unlike their boy group peers. who got to wear psychedelic gear and release constant albums stuffed with messages for mankind.
‘There can never be anything as bad as a Sixties contract‘. says a rueful Sandie now. Having started out playing with a sweaty blues group. The Paramounts (later Procul Harum). by the time she had been plonked in front ofstring quartets and Gala Concert orchestras to trill vapid nonsense like her 1967 Eurovision Song Contest winner. ‘Puppet On A String‘. the cruel irony of the lyrics must have been pretty hard to take.
‘I was doing very much what I wanted to do at the beginning. but then it kind ofgot out ofhand— I had people around me who weren‘t very encouraging or inspiring. I don‘t blame them. I blame myself— I wasn‘t strong.
But for those days it wasn‘t bad going. because women. especially working class women , hadn‘t learned the art of being themselves at that point. ‘Young girls now take it for granted. They don‘t realise what a struggle it was for someone like me
Best remembered for bare feet and the Eurovision Song Contest. Sandie Shaw is making a comeback. David Housham talked to her prior to her Scottish concerts.
just to talk to a bank manager like an equal — I mean. I've got past that now.
‘It was a big struggle for women of
that generation. being working class.
You just didn‘t ask questions because you thought you would look stupid. I learned the hard way.‘ Sandie‘s attempt to learn the art of being herself has been a traumatic twenty-year voyage ofself-discovery that she feels she has only recently completed. At the end ofanother day‘s encouraging rehearsals for her tour. she said ‘I don‘t think I could have done this (tour) even a year ago. I don‘t think I would have had the confidence.‘.The thought is punctuated by the ﬂat rasp of
nervous laughter she uses to protect every remark she thinks might have been doubted.
Sandra Goodrich‘s drawn-out explorations to find the real Sandie Shaw have been hampered by her emotional agrophobia and extreme lack ofself-confidence. For instance she recalls the young. lonely girl‘s reaction to the showbiz demands that pulled her from the peak of her Sixties pop fame: ‘When anything happened to me there was alWays
this picture in the papers of me in bet
— SANDIE‘S ILLAGAIN! — because the pressure was all too much.‘
Sandie‘s professional refuge was marriage to successful fashion
designerleffBanks. Unfortunately in the Seventies Banks‘s business. into which she had invested most of her wealth. went bust. and the struggle to pay offthe debts cost them their marriage.
Having spent much unhappy time ‘disappearing‘ even further from her worst disappointments to isolated homes in Ireland and Scotland. Sandie eventually discovered a rehabilitative strength in Buddhism and a new marriage to Nik Powell. who runs the film and video company. Palace Pictures.
Heaven Seventeen were the first Eighties pop stars to show the then housebound housewife that the genuine. ingenue talents ofearly Sandie Shaw had not been forgotten when they asked her to guest on an album of gimmicky versions of pop standards.
But when Virgin Records immediately offered her a recording contract she wasn‘t yet ready for the commitment and so had a baby to dispose of the decision.
‘I gave up on the music side of things because I didn‘t think it was possible to do the things I wanted to do. I needed the encouragement of someone like Morrisey to push me on to the first rung.‘
Flattered by Morrisey‘s herionc-worship and recognising a sympathetic. ‘sensitive‘ personality within him. Sandie recorded ‘l land in Glove‘. did a few TV spots with The Smiths and made a long overdue. live re-appearance as a guest at a Smiths concert at the Hammersmith Palais.
It was suggested that a whole album of Smiths songs was the next obvious step for her. but yet again Sandie‘s response to the challenge was to have her third baby.
I-lowever. continued encouragement from the Smiths‘ camp. an agreeable introductory crash course in other seriously trendy rock bands. like the Commotions. The Waterboys and Everything But The Girl (very much influences on her current live sound). plus the arrival of two old friends in top management jobs at Polydor Records at last gave her the courage to sign a deal with the label.
Apart from the well-reviewed ‘Are You Ready To Be lleartbroken‘ she is halfway through recording an album to be completed after her tour. Billy Bragg wants to write for her and Elvis Costello has offered to write and produce her next single. ‘I never knew I had so many fans.‘ she gushes.
It might have taken Sandie Shaw two decades to recover her self-respect sufficiently to fulfil now the prophecy briefly revealed in the mid-Sixties. but one reminder that record companies are no less keen on hit singles in the Eighties is still all it takes to pierce her composure.
‘I‘m not. . . you can‘t recreate what you did before. I want it to be broader than just singing hit singles this time. Ijust like the idea of working with different people . . . it‘s stimulating being part ofwhat‘s . goingon. . . I‘m not quite sure how
I‘m going to take the world by storm ‘ at the moment.‘ I
The J une 3