23 April 2014

Dora Hall - Pretty Boy/ It's Time To Say Goodbye

Label: Reinbeau Records
Year of Release: 1965

Dora Hall has already featured twice on this blog, and if you want an adequate summary of her career, please go to this blog entry where all is explained. For those of you who don't have the patience, however, let's summarise her career as bluntly as this: Failed actress/ singer marries disposable cup and picnicware magnate, the aforementioned magnate then pours some of the company money into trying to make her a successful light entertainment star over several decades, then not a lot really happens except history remembering her as a very peculiar fluke on the very fringes of popular culture. 

At the risk of repeating myself further, there was a tendency at the time to regard all of Hall's output as being unspeakably naff, but that received wisdom is beginning to be challenged. In short, her husband had too much damn money in the bank to litter the world with cheap and nasty productions - it wouldn't have reflected well on him to have done so, and as a result a lot of her 45s swing brilliantly, though some admittedly do beg the question "What in thundering sodomy was everyone involved thinking?" But she did release hundreds of records.  Mark E Smith would balk at her work rate, in fact.

"Pretty Girl" is an example of a successful sounding disc, so respected now that it's actually a Northern Soul spin. It's not a 'borderline case' in the Northern Soul world either - listen to that joyous chiming, soaring brass section and uptempo, galloping rhythm combined with yearning vocals and you'll realise this absolutely fits the genre like a glove. Spin it next to Dobie Gray's "Out On The Floor" and few people will argue that it's the better record, but most will continue to dance as the atmosphere and celebratory feel remain intact. 

If you happen to be out crate-digging and spot a cheap Dora Hall single sitting unloved near the back of the pile, do take a punt on it. If you're living in the USA they're apparently pretty easy to come by. Here in Britain, she had one 45 out on the collectible indie King Records ("Hello Faithless") and that's it. You owe it to us to try. 

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