4 March 2018

Cinnamon - So Long Sam/ Broken Hearted Me Evil Hearted You

Sprightly girl-pop from the pen of singer-songwriter Barbara Ruskin.

Label: President
Year of Release: 1969

Barbara Ruskin has become something of a collectible artist these days, with her singles commanding enough interest for the compilation "A Little Bit Of This" to have been issued on CD. Her range throughout the sixties was certainly incredible, seeing her attempting stomping Motown styles, Carnaby Street pop, popsike, and delicate folksy material. 

Born in East London in 1948, she became a determined and eager performer, hustling deals along Denmark Street. She was one of the very few female singer-songwriters on the circuit at one point in the sixties, and between 1965-72 managed to issue a whopping seventeen singles as a result of her tenacity, none of which charted. In 1969 she even penned the track "Gentlemen Please" for the Eurovision Song Contest, but the evening's vote was not on her side, and Lulu ended up performing the rather more simplistic "Boom Bang A Bang" instead. 

Her songwriting activity also saw two singles placed with fellow female solo artist Cinnamon. The first, "You Won't See Me Leaving", was issued by Beacon Records in 1968, and the second and final effort "So Long Sam" fell into record shops in July the following year. Neither sold well, and both are fairly difficult to track down these days.

"So Long Sam" is a sprightly, airy track with a driving beat behind it and a careful pop arrangement. What's interesting about this is that it differs quite a lot from Ruskin's original demo, which is a slower and more reflective piece of work (and is actually a bit better for it). Cinnamon's interpretation punches its fist in the air to celebrate the end of a relationship, whereas the demo clearly explores the bittersweet possibilities.

For my money - and it is my money - the flipside here is more successful, sounding like the kind of thing that might light up retro dancefloors on a good night. Filled with a buoyant and faintly Northern Soul-esque orchestral arrangement, it has attitude and heartbreak to spare. Only a slightly rigid arrangement stops it from truly flying to its full potential.

I have no idea who Cinnamon actually was, and if anyone can enlighten me I'd be grateful. Some have speculated that Cinnamon were a performing group who had Ruskin among their number, but the sleeves for their/her Dutch and Italian releases show pictures of a leggy woman with a brunette pixie haircut. I'm slightly confused and I suspect I'm not the only one.

Ruskin, on the other hand, continued her career as a singer-songwriter until 1972 before packing up her acoustic guitar and moving on to other things.

Sorry about the surface noise on these mp3s, readers. I did the best I could.

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