Pop: So Who Were Those Voices?

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The Independent Culture
A short history of some of pop's unsung female singers

BLAME NORMAN Connors, realising his early Seventies light, jazz-funk albums were several tone colours short of the full picture, spiced them up with classy vocalists Jean Carn and Phyllis Hyman, who both went on to solo careers afterwards. Carn returned to "featuring" duty in the Eighties with Dexter Wansel, Roy Ayers and Grover Washington.

ALTHOUGH SHE got no credit on the record, Carol Kenyon's vocal on, Heaven 17's 1983 Number 2 UK hit "Temptation" was, er, instrumental to its success. She had legs too. Nine years on, "Temptation" enjoyed an eight-week chart re-release. Three years after the first hit, she starred on "Don't Waste My Time", the Paul Hardcastle Top 20 hit. But she made little impression under her own name.

SOUL II SOUL had used vocalists Rose Windross and Do'reen on their first hits but in 1989 lit upon Caron Wheeler, a former reggae singer turned sessioneer (Phil Collins to Elvis Costello), to be their featured voice. Her rip-roaring voicing of "Back to Life" and "Keep on Movin'" ensured that Soul II Soul's hitherto strictly European success was translated into something Americans could understand. A promising solo album, UK Blak, was not the expected springboard to greater things.

IT HAS not all been girls on the way up. Seasoned Sixties singers can be featured to add lustre to tracks by young bucks. Thus the Pet Shop Boys (Dusty Springfield on 1987's "What Have I Done To Deserve This"), pre-Heaven 17 BEF (Sandie Shaw on "Anyone Who Had A Heart" which was a prelude to an LP, a record with The Smiths and a university tour) and Propellerheads (Shirley Bassey, on "History Repeating").