Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Forces Sweetheart Anne Shelton

While lingering at the sofa with a nasty back injury, I watched the Antiques Roadshow the other week. I may lose some of my credibility here, but the BBC TV show where people bring their antiques to have them valued intrigues me. I especially love it when some dear old dear comes up with some prop she used for a lifetime as an ashtray which turns out to be so valuable it can pay for healthcare and a dishy full time caretaker for the rest of her life.

My attention was drawn to some memorabilia of Anne Shelton. A lady had some pictures and I think some jewelery of Anne Shelton to be valued.

Anne Shelton was a Sweetheart Of The Forces in WWII and the memorabilia tied in with the remarkable history of the singer.
The item also set my Eurovision bells ringing and I knew there had to be some Anne Shelton connection to Eurovision or Eurocovers in my collection.

Anne Shelton (1923 - 1994)Anne Shelton was the first artist to record the WWII classic Lili Marleen in English and made it a success in the U.K. In the war she also worked with Glenn Miller and needless to say, she toured and entertained the forces extensively.
It was only in 1956 that Anne Shelton had her first (and only) official #1 hit with Lay Down Your Arms, a coverversion of Ann Caroline written by Swedish song legend Åke Gerhard, originally recorded by Thory Bernhards in 1955.

In 1956 she also had three songs in the infamous British pre-selection for the first Eurovision Song Contest. The U.K. never made it to the actual contest because the selection procedures weren't finished in time. The three songs, I Can't Help Loving You, With All My Loving Heart, The Heart Of A Child have never been released on record as far as I know (please see comments, Thanks Thomas!). (There were 36 songs in the multi round competition, each performed twice by different artists).
She entered the British national finals again in 1961 with Light A Candle (released as a b-side to Don't Forget on Philips) and in 1963 with My Continental Love (A-side single on Philips) and both songs ended 4th.

In the 50's and 60's Anne Shelton toured all over the world but she never repeated the commercial success of Lay Down Your Arms. Later on she remained a celebrated guest performer at many commemorative concerts and WWII remembrance days. She continued to perform until her death in 1994.

Eurocovers celebrated 50 years of Domenico Modugno's Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare) last year with many coverversions of the classic Eurovision tune. At the time I hadn't noticed Anne Shelton's version to be of any special interest among the 100s of versions out there (Sorry).
That was until last Sundays Antiques Roadshow.

Anne Shelton's Volare (in English) was released in 1958 on single (Philips PB852) and on the EP The Italian Touch (BBE12205)

Please visit the Official Anne Shelton Website for more information about this remarkable singer. A good 7"/ EP discography is here at 45rpm.
2008: Anno Domenico - 50 years of Volare at Eurocovers.

Other legendary Force's Sweethearts are Gracie Fields and of course Vera Lynn. They too recorded coverversions of Eurovision songs, more about them in future Eurocovers posts.
And for those who like their circles round: Thory Bernhards recorded one Eurocover: En Gång Skall Vi Åter Mötas, which is a version of Einmal Sehen Wir Uns Wieder (Germany 1961) by Lale Andersen. And Lale Andersen is the first singer to record Lili Marleen (in 1939).


Thomas Latham said...

Although Anne Shelton did not release "The Heart Of A Child" it was recorded by Malcolm Vaughan and released as the b-side to "My Special Angel" (HMV 45-POP 429).

Vaughan's version has appeared on CD - for example on the 2008-released "The Very Best of Malcolm Vaughan", although I have it on "EMI presents the Magic of Malcolm Vaughan" from 1997 (Music For Pleasure).

Anonymous said...

Anne Shelton was a great singer and she is much missed by her many admirers in the UK and beyond. She leaves behind some great readings of standard songs including 'Happiness is a thing called Joe'; 'The Man that got away'; 'Lover Man' and 'September Somg' to name just a few. Anne was one of the best female vocalists Britain has ever produced and her music continues to delight her many fans both old and new.

John Temple