Jan 05

SANDIE SHAW – “Always Something There To Remind Me”

Popular13 comments • 3,543 views

#180, 24th October 1964

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.



  1. 1
    John on 20 Oct 2006 #

    Well I think Sandie got this one exactly right. This is still the best version around.

  2. 2
    Billy Smart on 20 Sep 2010 #

    TOTPWatch. Sandie Shaw performed Always Something There To Remind Me on Top Of The Pops on five occasions;

    8 October 1964. Also in the studio that week were; The Supremes, Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers and Matt Monro. Pete Murray was the host.

    15 October 1964. Also in the studio that week were; The Searchers, The Nashville Teens and Matt Monro. Jimmy Saville was the host.

    22 October 1964. Also in the studio that week were; The Dave Clark Five, Manfred Mann, Tony Jackson & The Vibrations and Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders. Alan Freeman was the host.

    5 November 1964. Also in the studio that week were; The Kninks, The Pretty Things and The Rockin’ Berries. Pete Murray was the host.

    24 December 1964. Also in the studio that week were; Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas, Herman’s Hermits, Manfred Mann, The Animals, The Beatles, The Four Pennies, The Honeycombs, The Kinks and The Searchers. Jimmy Saville, Alan Freeman, Pete Murray & David Jacobs were the hosts.

    None of these editions have survived.

  3. 3
    crag on 14 Apr 2011 #


    Marlene Dietrich- Actress, Singer(1965)

    Quentin Crewe-Journalist, Writer(1984).

  4. 4
    thefatgit on 10 Jul 2012 #

    A very tenuous link to Whitney Houston here. Lou Johnson had a minor hit with this song reaching #49 on the Billboard Chart. The BV’s were provided by Dee Dee Warwick, Doris Troy and Cissy Houston.

    Somewhere in the Atlantic, there’s a missing (There’s) floating about, or lying on the ocean floor maybe.

  5. 5
    wichita lineman on 10 Jul 2012 #

    For study purposes, I was listening to this yesterday (and strong-armed Pete into putting some new life into this thread – thanks Pete).

    What struck me as I listened to it, rather than just heard it, is how English it sounds, in spite of Lou Johnson’s original being SO New York. Suburban rather than Swinging London. Jackie Trent is the lost librarian on Where Are You Now; Sandie is the new typist in town here, ditched by… her boss? I don’t believe the affair has been going on quite as long as she’s making out. You kind of know she’ll get over it.

    Her slightly flat, awkward delivery (not Tom’s cup of tea) is Sandie’s main selling point for me, an odd mix of confidence and vulnerability. It is also why she has more in common with the legions of Brit Girls who never made it – Lorraine Silver, Tammy St John, Truly Smith et al – than she does with Dusty, Petula, Lulu or Cilla. They all seemed born to their pop role in life.

    Unlike Marianne Faithfull’s matching posh voice and vaguely aristocratic background, Sandie’s beauty is perfectly countered by her Dagenham upbringing and oversize feet. She gives the impression that she got lucky in the pop world, becoming an achievable role model for girls – as a fashion icon – and boys – as a potential hot date.

    Plus, her run of singles from 64 to 67 (you know where it ends), all written (except this!) by Chris Andrews, is near perfect.

  6. 6
    swanstep on 11 Jul 2012 #

    This is a hard song to crack I think (at least without a lot of simplification a la the Naked Eyes version in the ’80s). It needs someone with Warwick’s diction and timing and ability to swing but with a different (maybe ‘bigger’, maybe ‘rougher’) tone than Warwick (when you hear ASTTRM on a Warwick Best-Of compilation, Warwick’s choruses screech and just don’t really work – you skip over this track).

    Anyhow, Shaw’s 1964 version continues to leave me a little cold. Tone’s better for the song than Warwick’s but still not great in my view, and I agree with Tom about the verses’ stiltedness (I miss Warwick there).

    That said, check out Shaw in 1969 (apparently on a famous review show: ‘Pop goes The ’60s’). Perhaps as a consequence of re-recording the song in French, German etc., perhaps because this is post-Aretha breaking through big time, the micro-timing issues seem resolved (there’s a euro-chic thing going on with some vowels to my ears which is perhaps just selling it more); there’s a little more grit in Shaw’s voice throughout but especially in the choruses which really works; and the arrangement’s much brassier with a spacier backing vox part and a keyboard doing the string part in the middle eight. At any rate, I prefer it (too bad the vid. cuts off a little early).

  7. 7
    Dan Quigley on 11 Jul 2012 #

    Both the Shaw and 1967 Warwick versions sound slightly lacking to me, almost like they have been mixed hard left/right and one of my speakers has gone bust. I have no great love for Shaw’s voice, but agree that her slightly off-hand treatment better suits the slight sense of mocking built into the song, with its descending, almost ‘sad trombone’ hooks in the verse and annoyed dominant seventh chord in the chorus (both vestiges of Bacharach’s novelty record past?)

    8, but there are plenty of less ubiquitous Bacharach/David things from this period that I have more love for – like the entirety of Dionne’s Here I Am album (The Beach Boys Today’s equal and reverse) and this lovely obscurity from Little Peggy March.

  8. 8
    wichita lineman on 11 Jul 2012 #

    Re 7: That Peggy March song is just perfect. Even though Bacharach used Dionne Warwick as his default singer, I wouldn’t say she’s perfectly suited myself – I’d love to hear more of his songs from this period delivered more softly a la Peggy.

    Beach Boys Today = Here I Am? How’d you mean?

  9. 9
    Dan Quigley on 11 Jul 2012 #

    8: Oh, I was referring, rather banally, to the layout: the (almost) side-long suites of ballads on both albums, with ad hoc, slightly experimental flip-sides (‘Help Me Ronda’ version 1 = the batty ‘How can I Hurt You’ for example).

    Also just as Today’s second side is marred by Bull Session with Big Daddy, Here I Am’s sweet suite ends with a godawful, mood-killing version of Newley/Bricusse’s ‘Once in a Lifetime’.

    Actually, the ballads on Here I am maybe have more in common with Pet Sounds, than the neo-doo-wop of Today – odd, segmented song structures, bass-lines departing from the triad, etc.

    I do know what you mean about Dionne – there is a cold confidence about her, even in sotto voce mode. I don’t think this detracts from her records with Bacharach, but her voice rarely shoots off any of the sparks of vulnerability that make the Peggy track, the best of Dusty’s readings, or The Shirelles’ almost-whispered ‘It’s Love that Really Counts’ goose-bump material for me.

  10. 10
    swanstep on 11 Jul 2012 #

    @wichita, 7. I think one can find plenty of cases where a more belted delivery than Warwick’s is better too, e.g., Jill O’Hara’s Knowing when to Leave >> Warwick’s KWTL. When one thinks about the position she was in – nearly every good singer in the world almost immediately takes a shot at every song she puts out (i.e., on the understanding that it’s a presumptive standard) – it’s kind of amazing that as many of Warwick’s versions are the definitive ones as they are.

  11. 11
    speedwell54 on 20 Jul 2012 #

    For me, in this ’64 version she sounds almost foreign for the first few lines; “I valk (almost) and ‘along’ sounds very close to ‘alone’. I wonder if that’s why Dietrich chose this as a Desert Island Disc? As soon as the chorus comes in she is very english. In later versions she elongates the ‘me ‘ of the title, which makes it smoother and maybe a little classier, but it looses the rawness of the original. Debut singles and albums can often have an appeal that can’t be recaptured.

    Her voice is her voice, and there’s something quite endearing about that. The orchestration, on the other hand is so precise, and that contrast works wonderfully. I saw this wasn’t her debut single -‘As Long As You’re Happy” came before, and is on you tube. Recorded on a brick, it absolutely gives everyone the chance to use the word ‘belted’ once more.7

  12. 12
    lonepilgrim on 20 Mar 2015 #

    whereas Cilla has sounded more focused on belting out the song to the back of the auditorium Sandie Shaw sounds like she is actually engaged with the lyrics. There is an air of defiance and simmering anger in her delivery which makes the song more convincing

  13. 13
    Gareth Parker on 27 May 2021 #

    Yeah baby, fabulous, groovy, swinging 60s pop! 8/10 for me, although I like Lou Johnson’s version as well.

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