junkfood philosophy

the curse of evie sands

Posted in music,show business by junkfoodphilosophy on August 12, 2007

This is becoming an oft told tale, but was Evie Sands the unluckiest woman in 60’s pop?

In 1965 a teenaged Evie was signed by Leiber & Stoller’s Blue Cat label and teamed with producers Chip Taylor & Al Gorgoni. (Taylor is, of course, the brother of Jon Voight and the guy who wrote “Wild Thing” made famous by The Troggs.) Taylor and Gorgoni recorded a classic debut single with Evie called “Take Me For a Little While.”

Evie Sands – Take Me For A Little While
Uploaded by soulpatrol

So far so good, but here’s where the bad luck starts. A pre-release copy of the song fell into the hands of an A & R man from Chess records. Chess artist Jackie Ross had just had a big hit with “Selfish One,” and the label were looking for a follow up hit. The white label of “Take Me For a Little While” was taken to Chicago, and a version recorded with Ross and rush released before Evie’s original came out officially.  DJs around the US started playing the Ross version believing it to be the original & dismissing Evie’s as the cover. A legal dispute between Blue Cat and Chess resulted in the Jackie Ross version being withdrawn – but the damage was done and Evie’s single never gathered the neccessary momentum to become a hit.

“Take Me For a Little While” was written by Trade Martin, the follow up  “I Can’t Let Go” was written by Taylor & Gorgoni themselves. Another classic, but somehow not a hit for Evie. Perhaps the whole Jackie Ross “Take Me for a Little While” affair had left some with the incorrect impression that it had been the Evie Sands camp who’d been in the wrong. Whatever the reason, the single went nowhere, but the following year the song was an international smash hit for The Hollies.

Although Evie left Blue Cat and joined Cameo records she continued to work with Taylor & Gorgini, who produced further singles.  In 1967 they must have thought they’d struck gold – Chip Taylor came up with arguably the greatest song of his career, and it was  the perfect vehicle for Evie. It was recorded as a single. It came out. It started to get air play. It started to sell – but the curse of Evie Sands struck again.  The Cameo label folded and the single disappeared. The song was “Angel of the Morning.”

Yes, that “Angel of the Morning.”
P.P. Arnold, Merrilee Rush and the Turnabouts:
“Just call me Angel of the Morning, Angel.”  
A song so robust even Shaggy couldn’t kill it, though he gave it a damn good kicking in 2001. 

And so, despite 3 or 4 years of trying and producing a bunch of great singles including three stone cold classics, Evie Sands just couldn’t get a hit. If the material wasn’t up to par, if Evie was untalented or unattractive there might be an excuse, but not only is she a fox, she has a really good voice, an impressive range and a distinctive sound. Taylor and Gorgini had found or written & arranged material that suited her down to the ground. And anyway, to steal a line from Steve Jordan, you could’ve had Deputy Dawg singing these songs and still have had hits.  How could she miss? And yet miss she had. 
Strike three – but Evie wasn’t out quite yet.  Chip Taylor hatched a plan. He’d given Evie his best new songs only to see other artists get the hits. So, this time, he took a song of his that had already been a hit, on the basis that no one was likely to record a spoiler version. The song was “Any Way That You Want Me” previously recorded by The Troggs. Chip came up with a new arrangement and a new bridge with more than hint of “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” and the result was – at long last – a monster hit in 1969. Here she is performing it live in 2006 with the BMX Bandits in Glasgow.

Evie is still musically active – check out her Myspace page, I think she maintains it herself.  She’s still in great voice as demonstrated by “While I Look at You” the track you’ll hear there. You can hear clips from her last album Women in Prison, here.  And you can buy CDs of her two early 70s albums from those nice people at Revola records, and I recommend that you do.


12 Responses to 'the curse of evie sands'

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  1. ally said,

    for an oft told story it’s all new to me, and you do tell it well. i’ve found a few odd tunes here and there i don’t think are on the lps, although i’ve still not got estate of mind yet – off to town this week to find one. do you know anything about ‘up tight’ ‘picture me gone’ or ‘the love of a boy’ ?
    ps have you been to the thursday do at the tiger lounge? is it worth a trip?

  2. junkfoodphilosophy said,

    aw shucks.
    a quick scan around google shows that there were certainly a number of singles released on Cameo/Parkway before Angel of the Morning coincided with the demise of the label. Picture Me Gone is one of those, I know the song from the Madeline Bell version – once again, it being a Chip Taylor composition I assume Evie did the original. Another Cameo single was Billie Sunshine.
    I have I Can’t Let Go and Take Me For a Little While, on a ‘best of Red Bird’ compilation LP that I bought in 1980-something. The thing that reminded me of Evie was seeing a DVD that included a clip of her singing Take Me For a Little While (not the version on my blog) and soon after that I saw that the Any Way That You Want Me album was being re-issued.

    The Thursday night at Tiger Lounge sounds good, I’ve only visited their myspace, sorry to say, so I can’t tell you what the vibe is like.

  3. Roger said,

    I Can’t Let Go and Take Me For A Little While are two of my favourite songs ever recorded. Evie Sands is massively underrated.

  4. junkfoodphilosophy said,

    Did you find the hidden track in the next post?

  5. […] original that my regular readers will both have seen a couple of months ago when I posted “the curse of Evie Sands.”  (Yeah, that’s right, I’m not ashamed to put up links to my own blog – I need […]

  6. Van Howell said,

    ITunes is offering “Women in Prison” — go buy it now, it’ll grow on you a lot, until it’s all you want to listen to.
    Somewhere I found her very first record online — “The Roll” recorded, believe it or not, in July 1963 — she was probably about twelve — it’s mind-blowingly great too; it has that authentic original girl power thing (like the black girl groups). Somewhere I also found the information that her name was changed from Rosen, and she was from Long Island.

  7. Tom Fühl-Ray said,

    I’ve been a fan of Evie’s from the first time I heard You Brought the Woman Out of Me played on the radio. I only learned her story gradually. Besides the titles mentioned Evie also recorded the original version of Step Out of Your Mind which became a hit for the American Breed. And altho of course it wasn’t written for her Evie did have a single of Until It’s Time For You to Go in 1968 the earliest known recording of the song pre-dating the Neil Diamond & Elvis Presley charters by two & four years respectively. Also while there’s no known connection Evie remade the Temptations’ The Way You Do the Things You Do about a year before Rita Coolidge’s 1977 version reached the Top 20.

    Of course it’s a shame Evie never had a substantial hit but hey she’s still out there doing it – how many of her contemporaries who had hits can say that?

    Having said that I have to suggest that the reason Evie’s versions of I Can’t Let Go & Angel of the Morning tanked is because they’re quite dull: the hit versions by the Hollies & Merrilee Rush are vastly superior. And it’s not true that Cameo folded just after the release of Evie’s Angel of the Morning: the label released some 28 singles after Angel… at least one of which – Beg Borrow & Steal by the Ohio Express – was a Top 30 hit. In fact Cameo even released another Evie Sands single after Angel…: Billy Sunshine which reached the Bubbling Under the Hot 100 chart. Billy Sunshine – which is a great track – is one of the last singles issued by Cameo & may well have been undermined by the label’s demise: overtime Billy Sunshine’s history may have become mistakenly attached to Evie’s best known flop single.

  8. William said,

    Evie is something pretty amazing….Do you all GET her 1999 release Women In Prison…..?
    I mean do you really get it?

    In 1999 she released an album that ‘calls out’ for all Women in the music ‘bizz’———bizz aka prison.

  9. Bob Davis said,

    She hasn’t done it lately, but when Evie was doing shows at Borders stores here in Southern Calif. around 2000-2001, she’d sometimes add “Angel of the Morning” to the play list and put about 30 years of lifetime into the song. The Cameo version is available in the Cameo-Parkway boxed set, after years of unavailability.
    To see a recent Evie performance, go to YouTube and look under Adam Marsland’s Chaos Band at the Sugar Mill on Sept 17, 2008. She sings her own “Don’t Look Back, Don’t Look Down” (available on the “Long Promised Road” CD), my all-time favorite Sandsong.

  10. Ernie said,

    I love the Hollies, but Evie’s version of “I Can’t Let Go” is vastly superior to their version. There is no comparison in my book.

  11. I would love to see Evie Sands perform Nov. 5th .I will fly down from Seattle for the show. I would like to review her show and do a story or interview. If she does not want to – no big deal because I,ll still come down. I helped write the Del Shannon bio. with my brother Howard A. DeWitt .We have written for blue suede news for 20 years and Marc Bristol has been publishing for over 24 years! We are the last mag. for roots music out there.Even No Depression mag. went under-a little like watching the Titanic sink.My new project is a book on Hickory records out of Nashville,Tenn. For what it worth- Dennis McKenzie DeWitt

  12. Omar said,

    Totally agree she had a lot of talent but did not get the breaks.

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