Friday, 27 March 2015

Music: BRENDA LEE - The Real Miss Dynamite



BRENDA LEE: 
 THE REAL MISS DYNAMITE


Album Review of: 
‘THE VERY BEST OF 
BRENDA LEE… WITH LOVE’ 
 by BRENDA LEE (Telstar, 1994)


 “The radio’s playing some forgotten song 
Brenda Lee’s ‘Coming On Strong’…” 
               (‘Radar Love’ by Golden Earrings, 1973) 


There’ve been other claimants to the title. Ms Dynamite, Double-Dynamite, Mr Dynamite. But let’s be honest, there’s only ever been one ‘Little Miss Dynamite’, and that most emphatically is Brenda Mae Tarpley – Brenda Lee. No argument about that. She may stand no more that 4’9” in her stocking feet, but she could fill a venue with her presence, and a voice that scarcely needs amplification to reach the back row of the theatre.

Born in Lithonia to dirt-poor parents near Atlanta, Georgia on 11 December 1944, and educated at Maplewood School, Brenda started out singing for dimes in the local candy store, and working talent contests, winning her first aged just six. ‘When I was a kid I used to play with the black kids on our street’ she told interviewer Martin Hawkins, ‘and I’d go to church with them and pick up elements of gospel music. I guess that’s why I sing so oddly, why I’ve never been quite Rock or quite Country or quite Pop.’

She had her own radio-spot and did WAGA-TV in Atlanta, where producer Sammy Barton suggested a more catchy audience-friendly name. So it was as Brenda Lee she was spotted by Country star Red Foley (Pat Boone’s father-in-law!), who arranged her large-scale TV debut on the ‘Ozark Jubilee’ 31 March 1955 broadcast from Springfield, Missouri, as a talented tot novelty. The slot nevertheless seems set to target her for an orthodox country music career, especially when her first record of a five-year contract for American Decca, her take on Hank Williams’ Cajun standard “Jambalaya”, scored a regional hit. The label quotes ‘Little Miss Brenda’ as being nine, knocking a few years off her age, although she was approaching twelve when the record was eventually released. Oddly, although Decca was an American subsidiary of a British label, it had offices in Nashville and a roster including country-boogie piano-player Roy Hall and early Rock ‘n’ Rollers Johnny Carroll, Webb Pierce, Jackie Lee Cochran and Eddie Fontaine, as well as Red Foley.

There’s a TV-clip preserved on YouTube of little Brenda in neat pinafore dress with ribbon tied at the back, ankle socks and strap shoes, belting out “Jambalaya” to backing from the Lubbock Texas Rhythm Machine. Porter Wagoner, presenter at the Cactus Theatre ‘Grand Ole Opry’ enthuses ‘I get tired just watching her!’ Then he jokes about quitting singing himself to become her manager, which might actually have been an astute move. Because soon she’s up-grading to national TV, doing “Doodle Bug Rag” on the Perry Como’s Kraft Music Hall – closing with a cute courtsy, then doing Steve Allen, Dick Clark, Tennessee Ernie Ford and Ed Sullivan.

With jumpy handclaps and sighing steel-guitar “One Step At A Time” in 1957 graduated Brenda’s claim to be the youngest act to place a crossover record on both Pop – albeit at no.43, and ‘Billboard’ Country charts, at no.15. Meanwhile, higher up the Hit Parade, Connie Francis was established as the top female artist of the period, specialising in big dramatic Italianate weepies. But every now and then, when her MGM label thought it appropriate, she was allowed to Rock out to meet the new teen-wave. “Lipstick On Your Collar”, “Robot Man” and Neil Sedaka-Howie Greenfield’s “Stupid Cupid” hit those jive-dive requirements to perfection.

Needless to say, there were other contenders out there. Wanda Jackson could be amazing, tutored by touring with Elvis Presley, he advised her to down-pedal the sweet country schmaltz and to Rock out instead. But despite being billed as the ‘Queen of Rockabilly’, maybe she lucked out with her material? It’s interesting to compare and contrast. Wanda had a June 1960 US Top Forty hit with “Let’s Have A Party”, a song lifted from Elvis’s second movie soundtrack ‘Loving You’. Brenda had an April 1959 UK hit with handclap-driven “Let’s Jump The Broomstick”, a cover of the black original by Alvin Gaines & The Themes, dealing with an old folkloric common-law marriage custom. Hot to tie the knot Brenda doesn’t care if ‘my father don’t like it, my brother don’t like it, my sister don’t like it, my mother don’t like it’… to hell with them! The raucous flat-out Rocking vocal-lines of the two records are virtually interchangeable. Listening to them back-to-back even now it’s easy to confuse which is Brenda and which Wanda. Wanda Jackson still retains a cult following, clear through to her revival at the hands of fan Jack White. But she missed out on the mass commercial success enjoyed by Brenda Lee.

Brenda with a copy of "Jambalaya"

The switch occurs when Brenda cuts “Sweet Nothin’s” at Nashville’s Bradley Film & Recording Studio with producer Owen Bradley, as part of her second studio album. Written by Ronnie Self, it provided her breakthrough, following extensive promotion it became a huge Pop hit in both European and Stateside markets. Determining her future trajectory, she might still adopt the manner and appearance of a country Georgia Peach, and already ranked as a seasoned genre performer, but the song is strong – and her delivery even stronger. Today, its theme almost ranks it as paedo-Pop. From the opening suggestive male whispering to Brenda’s firmly decisive ‘Ah-ha Honey, well alright’ she’s teasingly sexually precocious in an innocent 1950s way. Sitting in classroom trying to read her book, her baby gives her that ‘special look’, her voice dropping to a tone of confidentiality. She knows and we know what she means, with a knowing wink. No fake either, unlike Connie Francis or Wanda Jackson, in keeping with the song’s persona, she was still aged just fifteen.

She’s a schoolgirl, yet flirtatious with a swaggering self-confident delivery. Described at the time as variously ‘part whisky, part negroid and all woman’ or an ‘explosive bundle of charm’ who can ‘transform herself from a comics-reading teenager into a tortured woman’ with a clap of her hands. This is a quality that journalist Bob Solly later calls ‘the novelty angle of having a tiny tot singing in an older woman’s stockings’ serving as ‘a promotion ploy that paid off’ (in ‘Record Collector: 100 Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Records’, 2005). But it’s no different to the Everly Brothers classroom scenario where Johnny kissed the Teacher, he tiptoes up to reach her. These early days of Pop were unerringly targeted at bobbysoxer disposable income in a way unique to its time. Boybands and Diva’s today – even when focused on juvenile audiences, deal knowingly with adult themes in a relatively mature way. Back then, Chuck Berry could drool over “Sweet Little Sixteen” who – come Monday morning, was back in class again, without any hint of impropriety. While even the Beach Boys complained that ‘after six hours of school I’ve had enough for today, I hit my radio dial and turn it up all the way.’

In 1959, kids hitting the radio dial caught Brenda’s “Sweet Nothin’s” and turned it up all the way into the top ten on both sides of the Atlantic. Much like Taylor Swift would later become, already she was too big to be contained by the limitations of Country. Many more, and bigger hits would follow, with package tours around the States with Duane Eddy and Fabian – who treated her like a kid sister, and around the world from Brazil to Europe, Paris hailing her as the ‘most dynamic American artist since Judy Garland.’ In England she was the first American artist to appear on Jack Good’s ABC-TV ‘Oh Boy’ (4 April 1959), returning to guest again the following week, toured through April 1962 with Gene Vincent, and starred on ITV’s high-status ‘The Royal Variety Performance’ (8 November 1964) with Tommy Cooper and Cilla Black. She regularly topped the ‘New Musical Express’ poll as ‘World no.1 Female Singer’ (1962-1964).

Yet such early show-biz success can seriously screw you up. The history of Pop is littered with the burnt-out casualties of once-cute prodigious bundles of talent consigned to the junkyard as soon as they hit puberty. Watch clips of cutie-pie toddler Shirley Temple singing and dancing and you’re immediately struck by her supernaturally precocious talent, just as you’re unsettled by the enthusiastic attentions of her male co-stars. Yet she seems to have emerged intact. Unlike movie-child Judy Garland, Teenagers-star Frankie Lymon, or the troubled Michael Jackson. Yet with Brenda Lee there are no Britney Spears-type public meltdown moments, or Justin Bieber spoilt brattishness. She never appears less than humanly accessible and grounded.

When she gets the chance to Rock out, she does it with rare relish and self-assurance. “Dum Dum”, a uniquely female-centred project penned by Jackie DeShannon with Sharon Sheeley, is a deliciously lubricious concoction that Brenda delivers with sensual delight. There’s the nonsense ‘dum-dum diddly-dum’ chorus, after which she sets the scene, ‘the music’s sweet and lights are low, playin’ a song on the radio, your Ma’s in the kitchen, your Pa’s next door’ then she positively coos ‘I wanna love you just a little bit more’ oozing with toe-curling invitation. Less a full-strength Rocker, but with a thrusting rhythm structure emphasized by a sinuously catchy organ riff, fruitily rasping sax-break and sharp drum figures, urged on by her ‘oh yeah’ and ‘sing it out’, so that when she suggests ‘there’s so many things that we could do, so say the words and make my dreams come true’ its collusion adds shapely contoured energy levels around her voice.

In these songs she anticipates 1960s liberation attitudes. She was never going to be the decorously passive 1950s songstrel, pale and vapidly formal – she knows what she wants, and if the guy don’t measure up to her expectations, he’s gone. She’s real in ways that her immediate predecessor and contemporaries are not.

Oddly, although “Speak To Me Pretty” is one of Brenda’s biggest British hits – climbing to no.3 (in April 1962), it was never more than an American track on her ‘All The Way’ (August 1961) album. In her first big-screen role it features on the soundtrack of the ‘Two Little Bears’ (1961) comic fantasy movie in which Brenda appears as ‘Tina Davis’ and sings two songs, “Honey Bear”, and the hit. In an open-top car snucked up down Lovers Lane a spirited Brenda reprimands dozy co-star Jimmy Bowen about his clumsy attempted-seduction, scolding him ‘you’re going about it the wrong way!’ The song develops into a less convincing duet when he replies with a verse of his own. But for the studio version again, it’s more jog-along rhythm powered by raw sax-break and the undeniable strength of her voice rather than a true Rock track. But her interpretation is spot-on, ‘speak to me pretty – ah! – speak to me nice’ with an intimacy emphasized by the ‘ah’, yet extolling the power of words as a weapon of love. ‘Quote me those wonderful phrases, once or twice’ she cajoles, ‘make like a fabulous poet each time we meet’ because ‘whoa, words can knock me off my feet.’


Then “Here Comes That Feeling” is perhaps the most perfect Pop-fusion of emoting and up-tempo vocals. Written by Dorsey (brother of Johnny) Burnette with Joe Osborne, it’s more rocka-beat or beat-ballad, a heartbreaker that she infuses with a totally-convincing vocal crack-up. ‘Here comes that feeling again’ she opens, adding ‘and it ain’t right’ charged with full petulant hurt and rage against the injustice of life and false love. She’d seen him in a ‘drive-in way downtown, locked in her arms, you didn’t know I’d be around’, then rising to the compelling middle-eight in which she protests how she’s ‘gotta get rid of this lonely feeling’ and fight back, until ‘you’re gonna want me back while I’m-a having fun.’ Immaculately constructed with every second made to count, even the fade carries a ‘oh, I’m so lonely, mmmm, I feel that feeling, and it’s a-hurting me’ with full power turned on the ‘hurting’ word. I bought it. I played it a lot on my old Dansette portable record player. I bought more Brenda Lee singles than any other female artist. More even than Dusty Springfield. She was a constant fixture on my turntable.

Later in the decade British songwriters Barry Mason and Les Reed cunningly reconfigure the lyric into “Here It Comes Again, That Feeling” for the Fortunes. While Brenda follows it – up to no.15 in the UK in June 1962, with “It Started All Over Again”. A similar theme, substituting clarinet for sax solo, to only marginally less impact. Written by Gerry Goffin and Jack Keller it was also cut by Carole King as the ‘B’-side of her hit “It Might As Well Rain Until September”, but Brenda’s is the object lesson in how to interpret a lyric to maximum devastating effect. At best, her hits are done in a danceably Rock-ballad style, with integrated pizzicato strings and an electric rhythm section buoying her voice. If the backings are sometimes formulaic, and the songs of variable quality, Brenda’s Rocker-in-a-party-dress vocals remain constant. In complete contrast to her schoolgirl image, her husky world-worn voice is capable of suggesting a mix of despair, dissipation and sexual torment.

It could be argued that her song-selection was ill-advised. Despite a heavy-weight session back-up crew involving Elvis regulars Floyd Cramer (piano) and Boots Randolph (sax), plus Hank Garland’s guitar and Anita Kerr’s background vocals, her debut album – ‘Grandma, What Great Songs You Sang!’ (August 1959), wallows in an embarrassment of oldies such as “Toot, Toot, Tootsie Goodbye” and “Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody”, as though her long-term producer Owen Bradley doesn’t know quite what to do with this alarmingly talented protégé, or what her intended target-market should be. Neither “St Louis Blues” nor “Baby Face” can salvage much of value. Her albums continue to include a quota of hackneyed standards, with her sixth – ‘Sincerely, Brenda Lee’ (1962) entirely devoted to them, mellowing out in an apparently misguided shot at broadening her appeal into the supposed adult market.

Yet there’s a story attesting to her own assured confidence during studio work – related in the book ‘Finding Her Voice: Women In Country Music 1800-2000’ (2003), where she points out a bum-note struck by one of the session-professionals, which is only confirmed during playback. She may have – sometimes mistakenly, taken career-advice on board, but she’d grown up in the studio, it was her natural environment, she was completely at ease and totally in control there.

Her second long-player – ‘Brenda Lee’ (August 1960), is better, despite being a catch-all recorded in four separate sessions wide-spaced between October 1958 and March 1960, revisiting “Jambalaya” in new stereo sound. She also revamps another early hit, “Dynamite” – the song that first suggested amending her brand-name (and not the Cliff Richard ‘B’-side Rocker of the same name!). Her first nine albums use the same studio, producer and nucleus of musicians. Owen Bradley, who also worked with Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn, would remain her producer-of-choice until 1976. But as a product of Nashville – with Buddy Emmons steel guitar joining the studio team, her albums constitute an early example of what became known as ‘New Country’, with tastefully lush but nuanced orchestrations and legato choral backings.


It's her second album that also spawned “Sweet Nothin’s”, plus follow-up hits in John D Loudermilk’s “Weep No More My Baby”, “Let’s Jump The Broomstick”, and biggest of all – the classic deeply-felt “I’m Sorry”. The label was initially unsure about fifteen-year-old Brenda singing of the exquisite pain of mature unrequited love, but once issued as a single it takes off, to knock the Hollywood Argyle’s “Alley-Oop” off the US top slot to became her first ‘Billboard’ no.1, in June 1960, a gold disc and the defining song in her career. It was also – incidentally, the last record issued in 78rpm format in the UK. And who could resist its mournful lament? Certainly not me.

Country has always had a weakness for maudlin self-pity. And big heartbreak – what would today be termed power-ballads, were everywhere popular. Connie Francis’ biggest hits were Italianate love ballads, not her shots at Rock. And Brenda’s “Everybody Loves Me But You” is heartbreak on an epic scale, a song to rip the still-beating heart out of your chest with its anguished pain. A massive American hit in its own right – no.2 on the Adult Contemporary Chart and no.6 in the Pop Hundred, it was relegated to the ‘B’-side of “Here That Comes That Feeling” in the UK, making it a classic double-sided coupling. Again written by prolific country singer-songwriter Ronnie ‘Mr Frantic’ Self, it portrays Brenda resentful of the friends who’d advised her to dump her no-good boyfriend, but ‘I can’t tell them they were wrong, ‘cause I’m afraid they’ll leave me too’. Like Elvis’ “Are You Lonesome Tonight” or the Everly Brothers “Ebony Eyes” there’s even a spoken section, recited with the exquisite sensitivity of an actress. No, not an actress, when she confides, ‘my friends don’t know what they’ve done, well, they wouldn’t understand anyway,’ its hurt is so flinchingly real it’s impossible not to believe every word.

The success established a template for further dramatic smoothies, to the detriment of her potential for up-tempo numbers. And the cascading strings and harpsichord of “All Alone Am I” – UK no.7 in January 1963, and even more so “As Usual” – no.5 in January 1964, have the emotional power to melt the most cynical heart. When she part-talks the lyrics, as though in introspective self-dialogue, before breaking into the soaring ‘and as I stood there telling lies, the tears began to fill my eyes’ she’s manipulating an emotional response far beyond the range of most of her contemporaries.

She married her life-partner, Ronnie Shacklett in 1963. And the hits continued despite the eruption of the Beat Boom that transfigured global Pop the following year. In fact she headlined German shows with the unknown Beatles, and Terry Sheridan was the opening act for her March 1963 UK package tour. And she was sharp enough to switch around soon after and come to grab a slice of Swinging London for herself.

Safely ensconced in Decca’s no.2 West Hampstead studio complex she selected a couple of strong titles reflecting the urgencies of the new English Sound. Written by John Carter and Ken Lewis of the Ivy League, and produced by Mickie Most, “Is It True?” uses the cream of session musicians, Big Jim Sullivan and Jimmy Page on guitars, with Bobby Graham on drums. Promoted live on cult Mod show ‘Ready Steady Go’ (21 August 1964) with her strident voice confidently riding the rhythms, it’s a dramatic contrast from her previous hit, the old-fashioned saccharine-confected “Think” (no.26, April 1964). Flipped with her raunchy reworking of Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say?”, the single invests her career with renewed relevancy, and it climbs to no.17 in September 1964, in a chart consisting of the Kinks, the Zombies, Manfred Mann and topped by Herman’s Hermits! She was photographed alongside Long John Baldry, their contrasting stature used to comic effect. Unfortunately the London venture proves to be a one-off, not to be repeated. She did take Dave Berry’s “The Crying Game” back to the States with her – later a hit for Boy George, as the ‘B’-side for the up-tempo “Thanks A Lot”. But when she returned to Nashville, it was to pick up her career where she’d left off.

She’d started out in bouffant auburn hair and flared skirts, competing with Connie Francis and Wanda Jackson. By now she’d bridged the decade into the time of mini-skirts, Dusty Springfield and Cilla Black. A strong aspirational example of autonomy and control to a whole new wave of female artists, with none of the chill standoffishness of, say, Madonna – more a kind of worldly aunt. And there were still airplay hits to come, including “Coming On Strong” which Golden Earrings recall on their hit single “Radar Love”.

In fact, before gracefully exiting from the music business in 1967 at still only twenty-three, Brenda had racked-up twenty-nine American Top Forty hits, including a second no.1 with “I Want To Be Wanted” (September 1960), plus “Fool Number One” (no.3, October 1961), “Break It To Me Gently” (no.4, January 1962) and “The Grass Is Greener” (no.17, October 1963) which came from the pen of Barry Mann with Mike Anthony. A success-level reflected by a string of twenty-two UK hits – “Losing You” (no.10, March 1963) a French song threaded with full-bodied trumpet and English lyrics by Carl Sigman, the piano-ornamented “I Wonder” (no.14, July 1963) and the jaunty “Sweet Impossible You” (no.28, October 1963) with Brenda’s half-spoken accusation ‘you go on, and I’ll find someone’. There’s also the perennial “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” (no.6, November 1962) which reemerges every yuletide for renewed airplay.

According to her ghosted autobiography ‘Brenda Lee: Little Miss Dynamite’ (by Brenda Lee with daughter Julie Clay and Robert K Oermann, Hyperion, 2002) at the close of the decade she underwent a severe loss of confidence, doubting if there was still a place for her in the rapidly-changing music scene. Yet in 1971, married with two children, she returned to music and immediately gained country chart success with Kris Kristofferson’s “Nobody Wins”. Her first second-phase album – ‘Brenda’ (1973), was her biggest seller to date, and also includes her powerful version of “Always On My Mind”, which stands up well to other versions by Elvis Presley, the Pet Shop Boys and Willie Nelson. She soon established herself as a country singer in the Nashville mainstream, along with fellow Rock ‘n’ Rollers Conway Twitty and Jerry Lee Lewis. She charted duets with George Jones and an album (‘The Winning Hand’, 1982) with Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson. She was inducted into the ‘Country Music Hall of Fame’ in 1997, and even got to cameo in the 1980 Burt Reynolds movie ‘Smokey And The Bandit II’ listed as ‘Nice Lady’.

Sure, there’ve been other claimants to the title. Ms Dynamite, Double-Dynamite, Mr Dynamite. But let’s be honest, there’s only ever been one ‘Little Miss Dynamite’, and that most emphatically is Brenda Lee. No argument about that.



BRENDA LEE: HIT BY HIT 

September 1956 – “Jambalaya” c/w “Bigelow 6-200” (Decca 9-30050)

January 1957 – “One Step At A Time” c/w “Fairyland” (Decca 9-30198) reaches US no.43

May 1957 – “Dynamite” c/w “Love You Till I Die” (Decca 9-30333, UK Brunswick 05685) reaches US no.72

August 1957 – “One Teenager To Another” c/w “Ain’t That Love” (Decca 9-30411)

November 1957 – “Rock-A-Bye Baby Blues” c/w “Rock The Bop” (Decca 9-30535)

June 1958 – “Ring-A-My Phone” c/w “Little Jonah (Rock On Your Steel Guitar)” (Decca 9-30673, UK Brunswick 05755)

December 1958 – “Bill Bailey Won’t You Please Come Home” c/w “Hummin’ The Blues Over You” (Decca 9-30806)

17 March 1960 (re-enters 7 April) – “Sweet Nothin’s” c/w “Weep No More My Baby” (Brunswick 05819) reaches no.4. US no.4 (Decca 30967)


30 June 1960 – “I’m Sorry” (Brunswick 05833) reaches no.12. US no.1 (Decca 31093) where B-side “That’s All You Gotta Do” reaches no.6

20 October 1960 – “I Want To Be Wanted” (Brunswick 05839) reaches no.31. US no.1 (Decca 31149) where B-side “Just A Little” reaches no.40

19 January 1961 – “Let’s Jump The Broomstick” (Brunswick 05823) reaches no.12. 1959 US single c/w “Some Of These Days”

3 April 1961 – “You Can Depend On Me” US (Decca 31231) reaches US no.6

6 April 1961 – “Emotions” (Brunswick 05847) reaches no.45 US reaches no.7 (Decca 31195) where B-side “I’m Learning About Love” reaches no.33

20 July 1961 – “Dum Dum” (Brunswick 05854) reaches no.22. US reaches no.4 (Decca 31272) where B-side “Eventually” reaches no.56. Oddly ‘Dum Dum’ also reaches US R&B no.4

16 November 1961 – “Fool Number One” (Brunswick 05860) reaches no.38. US reaches no.3 (Decca 31309) where B-side “Anybody But Me” reaches no.31

8 February 1962 – “Break It To Me Gently” (Brunswick 05864) reaches no.46. US reaches no.4 (Decca 31348) where B-side “So Deep” reaches no.52

5 April 1962 – “Speak To Me Pretty” c/w “Lover, Come Back To Me” (Brunswick 05867) reaches no.3

21 June 1962 – “Here Comes That Feeling” (Brunswick 05871) reaches no.5. In US B-side “Everybody Loves Me But You” reaches no.6 (Decca 31379)

13 September 1962 – “It Started All Over Again” (Brunswick 05876) reaches no.15. US reaches no.29 (Decca 31407) where flip-side “Heart In Hand” reaches no.15


24 November 1962 – ‘ALL THE WAY’ (Brunswick LAT 8383) reaches no.20, twelve tracks including ‘Lover Come Back To Me’, ‘All The Way’, ‘On The Sunny Side Of The Street’, Ray Charles ‘Talkin’ ‘Bout You’ and Jerry Lordan’s ‘Do I Worry (Yes I Do)’

29 November 1962 – “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” (Brunswick 05880) reaches no.6. US reaches no.14 19 December 1960 (Decca 30776)

17 January 1963 – “All Alone Am I” (Brunswick 05882) reaches no.6. US reaches no.3 (Decca 31424) where B-side “Save All Your Lovin’ For Me” reaches no.53 (re-issued MCA MU1012)


16 February 1963 – ‘BRENDA: THAT’S ALL’ (Brunswick LAT8516) reaches no.13, her seventh studio album with twelve tracks including ‘I’m Sitting On Top Of The World’, Marvin Rainwater’s ‘Gonna Find Me A Bluebird’, Fats Domino-Dave Bartholomew’s ‘Valley Of Tears’, ‘White Silver Sands’ and ‘Just Out Of Reach’ 

16 February 1963 – “Your Used To Be” US (Decca 31454) reaches US no.32 and B-side “She’ll Never Know” reaches no.47

28 March 1963 – “Losing You” (Brunswick 05886) reaches no.10 US reaches no.6 (Decca 31478) where B-side “He’s So Heavenly” reaches no.93


13 April 1963 – ‘ALL ALONE AM I’ (Brunswick LAT 8530) reaches no.8, eighth studio album with twelve tracks including ‘Fly Me To The Moon’, ‘I Left My Heart In San Francisco’, ‘My Colouring Book’, and ‘My Prayer’

18 July 1963 – “I Wonder” (Brunswick 05891) reaches no.14. US reaches no.25 (Decca 31510) where flip-side “My Whole World Is Falling Down” reaches no.24

31 October 1963 – “Sweet Impossible You” (Brunswick 05896) reaches no.28. US no.70, in US the flip-side “The Grass Is Greener” US (Decca 31539) reaches US no.17

9 January 1964 – “As Usual” c/w “Lonely Lonely Lonely Me” (Brunswick 05899) reaches no.5. US reaches no.12 (Decca 31570)

9 April 1964 – “Think” c/w “The Waiting Game” (Brunswick 05903) reaches no.26. US reaches no.25 (Decca 31599)

1964 – “Alone With You” (Brunswick 05911) ‘Record Mirror’ says ‘Newie from Brenda is currently riding high in the States, and the odds are it’ll do the same here’, reaches US no.48 where B-side “My Dreams” reaches no.85

1964 – “When You Loved Me” c/w “He’s Sure To Remember Me” reaches US no.47

10 September 1964 – “Is It True” c/w “What’d I Say” (Brunswick 05915) produced in London by Mickie Most, reaches no.17. US reaches no.17 (Decca 31690) US B-side is “Just Beyond The Rainbow”

10 December 1964 – “Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day” c/w “Winter Wonderland” (Brunswick 05921) reaches no.29

4 February 1965 – “Thanks A Lot” c/w “Just Beyond The Rainbow” (Brunswick 05927) reaches no.41. US reaches no.45, where B-side of Geoff Stephens “Crying Game” reaches no.87

1965 – “Truly Truly Truly” c/w “I Still Miss Someone” (Brunswick 05933) reaches US no.54 29 July

1965 – “Too Many Rivers” c/w “No-One” (Brunswick 05936) reaches no.22. US reaches no.13 (Decca 317920)

13 November 1965 – “Rusty Bells” c/w “If You Don’t” US (Decca 31849) reaches US no.33

March 1966 – “Too Little Time” c/w “Time And Time Again” (Decca 31917, UK Brunswick 05957)

1966 – “Ain’t Gonna Cry No More” c/w “It Takes One To Know One” (Brunswick 05963)


16 July 1966 – ‘BYE BYE BLUES’ (Brunswick LAT 8649) reaches no.21, twelve tracks including ‘A Taste Of Honey’, ‘The Good Life’, ‘Flowers On The Wall’ and Paul McCartney’s ‘Yesterday’

29 October 1966 – “Coming On Strong” c/w “You Keep Coming Back To Me” (Brunswick 05967) US (Decca 32018) reaches US no.11

2 November 1967 – “Ride Ride Ride” c/w “Lonely People Do Foolish Things” (Brunswick 05970) ‘Record Mirror’ says ‘sorry, Miss Lee. This won’t restore you to the charts. It’s a light-weight, rather dated, so-so sort of song. You sing well though’ US (Decca 32079) reaches US no.37

1967 – “Take Me” c/w “Born To Be By Your Side” (Decca 9-32119)

October 1967 – “Where’s The Melody” c/w “Born To Be By Your Side’ (Brunswick 05976) ‘Record Mirror’ Top 50 Tip, ‘neither s beater nor a ballad, but Brenda in good form’. US B-side is “Save Me For A Rainy Day”

1968 – “That’s All Right” c/w “Fantasy” (MCA MU1001)

June 1968 – “Let’s Jump The Broomstick” c/w “All Alone Am I” (MCA MU1021

1968 – “Johnny One Time” c/w “I Must Have Been Out Of My Mind” reaches US no.41. Issued in the UK March 1969 as MCA MU1063, reissued February 1970 as MCA MU1115

1971 – “If This Is Our Last Time” c/w “Everybody’s Reaching Out For Someone” (MCA MU1155) reaches US Country no.30

1972 – “Always On My Mind” c/w “That Ain’t Right” (Decca 32975) reaches US Country no.45

1973 – “Nobody Wins” c/w “We Had A Good Thing Going” (MCA 40003), both sides written by Kris Kristofferson, reaches US Country no.5

November 1973 – “Sunday Sunrise” c/w “Must I Believe” (MCA MU1219) reaches US Country no.6.

January 1975 – “Rock On Baby” c/w “More Than A Memory” (MCA 168) reaches US Country no.6. There are lots more Country hits which fall outside the remit of this feature…

1 November 1980 – ‘LITTLE MISS DYNAMITE’ (Warwick WW 5083) reaches no.15, Hits compilation

1994 – ‘THE VERY BEST OF BRENDA LEE… WITH LOVE’ (Telstar TCD2738) thirty Greatest Hits with liner notes by Mike Lancaster



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