Year of Release: 1969
The British song selection process for the Eurovision Song Contest has often felt infuriating in recent years, with the BBC seemingly jumping on any passing ditty and Brit Performing Arts School graduate and packing their bags for the show. This isn't always the case, of course - this year, they did run a phone poll - but often, it doesn't feel like a democratic process (Should it be? Have the Beeb ever made any guarantees or promises to this effect? And do I really believe their song selection process is so half-hearted? Oh, I don't know, leave me alone! You lot and your bloody questions.)
Back in the sixties, that often wasn't the case at all. For the 1969 contest, for example, Lulu's "Boom Bang A Bang" was selected by postal votes from the public after everyone's favourite Scottish Scott Walker stalker performed six possible songs on television. Of these, "Boom Bang A Bang" was a clear and unequivocal winner with 56,476 votes, but "March" still got plenty of people licking stamps and envelopes too, picking up 38,418 votes. That's certainly why it ended up on the B-side of Lulu's single, and might be why Spark Records ended up getting Cindy Ann Lee to cover it. If 38,418 members of the public felt strongly enough to write in about it, perhaps it stood a chance of becoming a hit in its own right.
Actually, I have to admit I prefer "March" to "Boom Bang A Bang". Crucially, it's chirpy without being irritating, striking the right balance between sixties Euro-pop and British girl-pop. The pounding kettle drums, sweet vocals and sheer stridence of the track are also a lovely combination. It probably wouldn't have won the contest, but then nor really did "Boom Bang A Bang" - at least, not outright, as it actually tied with the Spanish, Dutch and French entries and therefore had its impact slightly diluted.
The class of "March" shouldn't be too surprising when you look at the songwriting credit and spot Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley's involvement, two people who littered the sixties with endless hits and some very notable near-hits too, from endless work with Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick and Tich, The Honeycombs, Petula Clark, The Herd, and er, Rolf Harris among others.
Cindy Ann Lee is a little harder to trace further information on. All I've managed to glean is that she either was or went on to become a "musical theatre performer". "March" and "To You", both issued on Spark Records, were her only record releases. If anyone knows more, please do get in touch.