Year of Release: 1965
Even if you're only aware of the obvious candidates in the hit parade data of the era, one trend was immediately apparent in the sixties - girl singers, girl groups and female band members were far more prevalent than they were in the fifties. And yes, it's true to say that the break wasn't entirely clean and that some of the more famous examples were frequently patronised by the media (almost every single interview with Honey Lantree out of The Honeycombs seemed to treat her as a delicate lady who had been held in a group against her will, for example) but it was a start.
As with all music industry trends, however, the charts only told half the story. Hiding in the archives of many record labels are female groups and soloists who never really caught on in quite the same way - if we're focussing on the output of the Decca label alone, the "Girls Scene" compilation CD is usually available at budget prices and does a stirling job of rounding up the other contenders, among them Adrienne Poster, Truly Smith and The Vernons Girls. Missing from that compilation for no good reason I can discern is this track by one Babbity Blue. Managing to emerge at Number 48 in February 1965, "Don't Make Me" is a frail, innocent and delicate ballad about trying to avoid the perils of teenage love which is actually genuinely touching and subtle rather than coated in syrup or riddled with catchy pop hooks. Babbity's voice is hushed and doubting, and the backing (delivered by The Tremeloes) fits the bill brilliantly - it's pretty difficult to fault this one, and perhaps its subtlety was all that stood in the way of greater success at the time. It's safe to say that this probably didn't slap casual radio listeners around the face much.
Babbity Blue was actually born as Barbara Chalk but renamed by her managers after she attended an audition for their company at the age of seventeen. Unlike many of her contemporaries she never established herself as a touring act, but instead relied on television and radio exposure to bring her records to the public's attention. Obviously the gambit failed, and after her follow-up single "Don't Hurt Me" completely failed to register she disappeared from sight.