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Golden Lights: Special Edition




Zonk CD coverAn expanded edition of the 1993 Twinkle Golden Lights collection, RPM has not only brought a great lost singer back into the light again but they've also helped tie up some loose ends as they show just how important Twinkle's recordings were with the added addition of more tracks. Including the original 17 songs that appeared on the 1993 disc (with her definitive Brit girl hits Terry and Golden Lights), the Golden Lights: Special Edition released in 2001 adds an alternate foreign language version of her 1965 cover of Reparata & The Delrons' Tommy (in German), a 1974 single, a 1982 b-side, and some unreleased tracks. The end result shows Twinkle to be that lost connection between Lesley Gore, Kirsty MacColl and Morrissey.

Twinkle has been showing up on a handful of collections through the years including Micky and Darby and Joan on the Instant Karma collection (a collection of music from the late 60s Instant label, the subsidiary of Immediate Records), Micky (again) on Backcomb N' Beat - Dream Babes Volume Three, and the P.F. Sloan / Steve Barri tune What Am I Doing Here With You on Folk Rock and Faithfull - Dream Babes Volume Five. Those tunes are merely a handful of the good tunes that Twinkle left her mark on - so if you liked those tasters, this full cd of Twinkle music is worth checking out.

If you missed out on the original Golden Lights collection, and didn't hear Twinkle on the compilations, but only know The Smiths' cover of Golden Lights, then it's definitely time to hear Twinkle's music and how she's inspired a generation. Twinkle wrote her own songs when she was only 16, recorded a handful of influential singles in the mid-60s and basically retired by the time she was 18. Whether it was because she came from a family of wealth or because she was burned out on the music industry, it's a shame that Twinkle disappeared. As her original sides and the bonus tracks show, she had a lot to offer and more that we could've been inspired by, but like Lesley Gore, she virtually disappeared at the tailend of the 60s.

Unlike Lesley Gore, who was fairly prolific in the 60s (and returned in the 80s to gain an Oscar and Grammy nomination for her songwriting for Fame), Twinkle only released 6 singles during her heyday, and only returned briefly in the late 60s and early 70s for two more single, and a handful of unreleased recordings. She and Lesley Gore were similar though in how they were both young girls who recorded their own self-penned tunes at a very young age - Twinkle even sounds like Gore at times.

Twinkle's first single was a recording of her self-penned Terry, which was a Shangri-Las inspired girl group record about her biker boyfriend's death. It was also her biggest hit at the time thanks to the Phil Spector-like production, the Jimmy Page and Big Jim Sullivan musical backing and the fact that the song was banned just about everywhere in the UK.

Her next great record was Golden Lights, the jaded ode to fame, which The Smiths brought back to life in the 1980s. Golden Lights was a brilliant record which stands as probably the first of its kind.

Other self-penned tunes that Twinkle shines on include the folk blends that are Unhappy Boy and the Poor Old Johnny. These two songs along with the late 60s recordings Micky, Darby and Joan (both produced by Michael d'Abo) and Soldier's Dream (previously unreleased) show a more mature but no less enthusiastic Twinkle. Both Micky and Darby and Joan show the more rollicking glass raising Twinkle, while Soldier's Dream is a late 1960s soldier's anthem.

Of the songs not written by Twinkle (both covers and songs written for her but not by her), Boy of My Dreams is a rollicking good time that interestingly also appeared on the Valentine 2000: The El Love Album. The P.F. Sloan / Steve Barri composed tune What Am I Doing Here With You is another rollicking good time of a song which features fuzz guitar, jazz band backing and folk strummed guitars all set to a country style bassline. Twinkle recorded A Lonely Singing Doll, an English language version of Poupee de Cire, Poupee de Son by France Gall (the 1965 Eurovision song contest winner written by Serge Gainsbourg) on a rare mid 60s EP which is a must hear by Ye Ye music fans.

Twinkle's rendition of Reparata & the Delrons' Tommy (at the urging of her then boyfriend Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits) sounds like she's trying to pull a Lesley Gore, even singing a version in German, much like Lesley Gore did with Goodbye Tony (a German rewrite of You Don't Own Me). German's must have a thing for songs sung by girls with guy's names in the title.

The only cover that lacks is Twinkle's version of The End of the World (which Twinkle was not even happy with).

In 1974, she released the Days/Caroline single as Twinkle Ripley. The single was produced by Mike d'Abo and featured Duncan Browne on guitar, and is reminiscent of the lost 1970s work by Lesley Gore. But where Gore's work ended up influencing the world of piano ballads and lesbian rockers, Twinkle's 70s work points the way for the likes of Kirsty MacColl or Shane MacGowan from the Pogues (Days should've been a duet between the two of them). Caroline is more rocking than Days and again sounds like the rocking 70s Lesley Gore, but with more of a power pop vibe.

These two tracks were the only released tracks from the unfinished and unreleased Michael Hannah album (a project named after Twinkle's then boyfriend who sadly died in the Paris Air Show disaster). The Michael Hannah album was finally released in full in 2003, but at the time of this compilation's release the unreleased songs Radio Station Lady, Little Piece of Heaven, and I'm a Woman You're a Man were the only available tracks. And while the sound quality isn't that hot, the songs are excellent 70s power pop.

The final track, For Sale, sounds a little out of place since it's from 1982 and has drum machines and synths but it's actually not a half bad track.

Finally, to round out this expanded version, RPM has included footage of Twinkle singing Terry live at the 1965 NME Poll Winners concert which is the perfect way to see Twinkle in action.

---Patrick, February 8, 2005