6 July 2016

Monika Grimm/ The Les Sharp Band - The Singing Shell/ Hip

Label: Concord
Year of Release: 1969

Now here's an odd one. Concord Records were the record label of the music publishing company Campbell Connelly, and for their first release they issued a German language A-side by that country's actress and singer Monika Grimm. This seems like commercial death, an attempt to sink the organisation before it even started, but there clearly was a method to the madness - the track here presented as "The Singing Shell" is in fact "Ohne Dich", which had been used in a 1969 advert for Shell petrol.

This begs all sorts of questions. Why were Shell using a German language song in one of their British adverts? Was the advert really so popular that the track warranted a single release? Why did Concord grab the rights to release the track and not Monika's German label Polydor? Answers on the back of a postcard. The track itself bounces and parps along nicely and it's possible to imagine it in the context of a petrol advert, but the title translates as "Without You" which hardly sounds like a bouyant subject matter to remind you to keep your car's tank topped up with Shell petroleum products.

Monika enjoyed a long and varied career in Germany, starting out as a singer in the girl group The Hummingbirds in the late 1950s before eventually breaking out to go solo. Always a moderate selling singer rather than a huge star, her singing career had largely fizzled out by the mid-sixties (with the exception of this doubtless surprising UK release) though her acting career continued until the end of the decade.

Hiding away on the flip, on the other hand, is Les Sharp and His Band, or the conductor, bandleader and composer Bob Sharples under another name. "Hip" sounds slightly dated for 1969 - as does its A-side, to be totally fair - but man oh man, it's an instrumental that zings and swings along, and would be the soundtrack to everyone's summer cocktail parties in a fair and just world.


VanceMan said...

Wow ... much more energetic than I was anticipating.

Anonymous said...

That's a surprise, I don't know who's palying on this single

Many thanks again


Arthur Nibble said...

Maybe Concord thought they could have a hit as big as Georgie Fame's "Get Away", which started out as a non-specific jingle for National Benzole petrol.