Year of Release: 1962
Spare a thought for the talented relatives of big stars. They're forever destined to talk about their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and cousins way before they're even allowed to mention their debut single. If they succeed in pop, it's because of their fortunate family connections. And if they fail, well, it serves them right for daring to hint they were in the same league. Nobody talks about Aretha Franklin's cousin David Bryant these days, and Julian Lennon's stock has fallen so low that a few years ago I chanced upon a signed album of his in a Salvation Army charity shop for 50p (though yes, I did buy it and keep hold of it).
Susan Singer, then, was cousin to the mighty Helen Shapiro, and had a similar vocal style but none of the hits. "Hello First Love" was her debut, and showed what she was capable of. Both sides are incredibly tightly arranged, having the skippy, peppy swing of a lot of pre-Fab sixties pop, and Susan's performance has bags of character and power behind it. The A-side sounds like a possible hit single, and perhaps if it had been placed with a slightly more powerful label than Oriole it might have stood more of a chance.
The flip "Gee! It's Great To Be Young" is, by comparison, utterly unashamed teen pop with lots of mentions of barbeques, twists, dates, record shops, jivin', and all that jazz. "What wants to be old?" sneers Singer, sounding strangely close to Pete Townshend's dismissiveness with her incredulous delivery. Rock this definitely isn't, though - the orchestral accompaniment and backing vocals of "diddy diddy diddy" hail from a (slightly) earlier time when pop art and destructive tendencies were not part of teenage music.
Susan managed four more singles on Oriole, many of them extraordinarily scarce these days, before re-emerging on Columbia as Susan Holliday in 1964. EMI's healthier coffers didn't seem to make any difference, though, and she was dropped by them in 1965 having failed to make an appearance in the hit parade. You could argue she deserved a lot better.