- Artist: Helen Shapiro
- A Side: He Knows How To Love Me
- B Side: Shop Around
- Label: Columbia
- Format: 45s
After Helen’s meteoric rise to fame, from her school band “Susie and the Hula Hoops” that featured Marc Bolan on guitar. To her 2 number 1 solo hits at the age of 14, voted “Best British Female Singer at the age of 16. Helen followed her attraction to USA R&B in 1964. But failing to achieve a hit or even break into the top 30 for that year or any year that followed there after.
Both sides of this her rarest 45, underline Helen’s powerhouse vocal drenched in that personal love for the emerging soul sound. Her 14 track album for 1964 “Helen Hits Out” was sadly an ironic title, as Helen was totally now out of “hits” as she moved in her “soul” era. “Helen Hits Out” is an album crammed with soul covers, inc: “Shop Around” but no sign of her brilliant own composition “He Knows How To Love Me” which remained 45 only.
Her producer Ivor Raymonde, jazz pianist, arranger. Was already guiding Dusty Springfield to her own meteoric rise to fame and fortune, whilst the incredibly talented Helen’s career was in decline. Two polar opposites, but Ivor’s output with both ladies was of the highest quality.
On this seldom seen 45, her sublime almost spoken intro immediately captures your attention, with her beautifully mysterious dusty-throat delivery ensuring you must hear more. Then Ivor rolls out a fabulous dance arrangement; a cocktail of Latin influenced cowbells start to shower the intro, before accelerating triumphant trumpets lift the session into an irresistible NS dancer. Helen’s presence is then enhanced further by swirling strings, but still pelted by those relentless dance-inducing cowbell pulses. Raymonde then goes for the crescendo by adding choir choruses into the background. A magical instrumental break incorporating all the Latin influenced instruments already in place, a nonchalant Helen strolls back for the classy piano tail off from the fingers of the producer… closing a truly memorable session.
Throughout all that capitivating musicianship, the over-riding pleasure is the magnificent teenage vocal of an apparently “in love” Shapiro.
It is purely academic that her version of ‘“Shop Around” is also exceptional.
In a conversation I had decades ago, with Helen’s recording engineer Terry Tompkins. Terry’s thoughts were “If it wasn’t for Helen’s natural shyness coupled with her unwillingness to be part of the high pressure fakery of show business. Helen would have rose to become one of the world’s greatest female singers ever”. Instead Helen chose her work carefully, doing only what she loved whether it be stage, TV or fronting top British jazz bands in small personal venues. Or touring with her own one woman show “Simply Shapiro” Helen is without question one of the greatest female voices ever to emerge from these shores.
“He Knows How To Love Him” is by far her classiest Northern Soul offering.
Condition ReportTwo clean labels, 4 prong centre intact, still housed in birth sleeve.
- Title: He Knows How To Love Me
- Title: Shop Around
- Year: 1964
- City: United Kingdom