371) Sharon Tandy — “Hold On”
Richie Unterberger gets it right for once, calling Tandy’s ‘68 A-side “galvanizing soul-freakbeat” (https://www.allmusic.com/album/you-gotta-believe-its-mw0000741620) and “storming soul-psychedelia.” (https://www.allmusic.com/album/the-magic-world-of-ruperts-people-mw0000984861). Nostalgia Central says that “her fiery version of Hold On . . . became her signature tune – with her breathless rasp going head-to-head with searing Yardbirds-like guitars.” (https://nostalgiacentral.com/music/artists-l-to-z/artists-s/sharon-tandy/)
The song and its performers are intertwined with yesterday’s group, Rupert’s People. Unterberger explains:
Sweet Feeling’s manage, Howard Conder . . . recruited . . . Les Fleur de Lys, who had released some respectable mod rock records of their own without a hit [see #32, 122] to record [“Reflections of Charlie Brown”] in an arrangement reminiscent of early Procol Harum [and] a B-side, “Hold On,” but [they] decided not to work with Conder after the tracks were done. The single was released anyway, and has become regarded by collectors as one of the better little-known British psychedelic 45s. Conder’s original idea was to have Sweet Feeling change their name to Rupert’s People so that there was a band to promote the single. Sweet Feeling declined, so a [different] Rupert’s People lineup was formed . . . .https://www.allmusic.com/artist/ruperts-people-mn0000203419
The People’s story gets even more convoluted, so let’s turn to Sharon Tandy. As Steve Leggett explains:
Tandy already had a career as a singer and performer in South Africa before relocating to England in 1964 at the suggestion of Frank Fenter, then the U.K. head of Atlantic Records and soon to be her mentor, manager, and husband. Pairing her with the British mod group Fleur de Lys, Fenter used his clout to land her an opening slot on the 1967 Stax-Volt U.K. tour and, also convinced Stax to sign her as an artist . . . .https://www.allmusic.com/artist/sharon-tandy-mn0000010390
One of the fruits of the Tandy/Les Fleur de Lys collaboration was, hold on, yes “Hold On.” Tandy’s version is in my mind far superior to that of the People.
Leggett expands on Tandy’s legacy:
[While her] recorded legacy doesn’t contain any big commercial hits, [Tandy’s] unique phrasing and passionate vocal style suggest things could easily have been different. . . . Her output during the U.K. years, which saw her delivering sides that were mod-tinged and sometimes lightly psychedelic pop-soul, and sounding at times like a hipper, tougher version of Dusty Springfield, remain at the heart of her legacy.
“You say you love me but you don’t know why. I can see it there by the look in your eye. Do yourself a favor, count me in. Doesn’t cost much boy, but it’s easy to win. I can help you hold on. Everything you do’s wrong. Oh, it’s easy to face the music if you know the style. In your nightlife baby you seem to sing forever. It’s sleepy people, you’re all together. But the mist from your eyes, you don’t see too well. But the world has got you under its spell. . . .”
Here is Tandy singing “live” on Beat Club:
Here is Rupert’s People’s version:
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