Year of Release: 1964
Regular readers will know all about the struggles I have attempting to find material for this blog which is largely unheard. Back when I began writing here in 2008, finding singles and tracks which were unavailable on iTunes, YouTube, Spotify and elsewhere was like wandering through a large apple orchard the first day after a hurricane. The feast we all had, eh readers (are any readers from that period actually left?) These days record companies have digitally re-released a lot of the content from the darker corners of their catalogue, the YouTube uploaders have completed their herculean tasks to digitise their entire singles collections, and we are where we are - up shit creek, really, but at least I still have an intact and rather firm wooden paddle.
Except… once in a while a surprise pops up. I had never heard or seen a copy of this single before it fell into my hands. The seller promised some enjoyable "sixties girl pop", and I raced home to put it on my turntable enthusiastically. More astoundingly still, it's actually pretty good and possibly doesn't deserve to be as obscure as it is. The A-side, featuring the mysterious Marianne in duet with a chap called Mike, zings along with Joe Meek styled compression and echo, all flighty and pretty. The flip is a solo affair and much more beat-orientated, and equally good.
On learning of my purchase, fellow DJ, friend and sixties female solo artist fanatic Sean Bright began frantically digging around the internet attempting to locate facts about Marianne, thereby partly saving me a job. Marianne was born in Manchester in 1947 as Marian Stockley, and began performing music while she was a fifteen year old student at Bolton art college. Initially joining the Mike Taylor Combo, her and Mike were coaxed away from the group by Vocalion to produce a couple of singles as a duo, this debut effort and the follow-up "You're The Only One". Both tracks were penned by Marianne's boyfriend Wilf Lewis, but neither sold in convincing quantities.
Later in 1965 Marian and Wilf founded the more widely known group Wynder K Frog, but left to pursue a solo career on Fontana before they hit the recording studios. Adopting the name Friday Brown, her recordings under that moniker are enormously varied, taking in folk, blues, pop and Northern Soul. One of these efforts, the self-penned "32nd Love Affair", is an utter corker, pitching its mood somewhere between the flamboyant regret of Gene Pitney and the Wigan dancefloor. Steadily as her career bled into the seventies and the cabaret circuit, however, her work became more subdued and middle of the road. This led to appearances on the likes of "The Two Ronnies", but still didn't create any real commercial headway for her.
After 1973 it would seem that she moved into advertising and began to write jingles and music for commercial purposes, before eventually retiring from music altogether in 1995. Her run of employment in the media still outstrips many of the other artists we've featured on this blog, though, and is a testament to her obvious talent.