Something in Sandie Shaw’s voice reminds me of Helen Shapiro, but whether it’s the vastly improved material, or the changed times, or those few crucial extra years on her, Sandie sounds impressive where Helen sounded precocious. There’s maybe half an eye on Cilla Black, too – take a Bacharach hit and submit it to a heavy dose of dynamics – but Shaw starts off commanding and her belting isn’t so extreme. In fact if I listen closely I tend to think she’s more in control of the song when she’s giving it welly on the chorus – there are little mannered twinges in the verses (“city strits“) which might grate if I paid them too much attention.
So I don’t. I let the song sweep me past them. There’s a balance to be struck here between reflectiveness and jiving, and to be honest I would prefer a little more of the former. There’s a lashing anger in this song which the busy, floor-ready arrangement hustles off to the sidelines. As someone commented on a Cilla entry, it’s hard to get a great Bacharach song wrong. But it’s hard to get one exactly right, too.