Priscilla Paris: always in a crowd, always alone
8th April 2017
Title: Love, Priscilla: Her 1960s Solo Recordings
A former member of the Paris Sisters vocal trio (also featuring Albeth and Sherrell), Priscilla was the lead vocalist for the girl group hit, I Love How You Love Me, released in 1961 and produced by Phil Spector.
Pushed unceasingly by their mother, in classic ‘mother lives through her daughter’s success vicariously’. the group were spotted while sharing the same stage with the Andrews Sisters by an MCA staffer. A Decca contract didn’t help the group at all, though, maintaining an old fashioned style while rock’n’roll raged around them. Ending up on Lester Sill’s Gregmark label, he brought in Spector who insisted that Priscilla be the voice of the group and that the delivery should be reduced to a restricted husky effect. Spector would soon fall in love with Pricilla and then propose marriage but Priscilla – probably saving herself a lot of grief later on – rejected him.
I Love How You Love Me was the trio’s second single and that hit No.5. A split occurred soon after when Sill was hit by money problems. The trio ended up working with Jack Nitzsche and Jimmy Bowen on Reprise, releasing 1967’s Everything Under the Sun!!!, a true classic and a lost treasure for anyone who enjoys the girl group genre. Priscilla wrote a few of the songs on that LP.
And this, is where the story really starts! He Noticed Me, Priscilla’s solo debut, appeared on the York label but her solo LP Priscilla Sings Herself died a death. As did 1967’s Priscilla Sings Billy, a tribute to jazz legend, Billie Holiday (unfortunately spelled ‘Billy’ on the sleeve).
Both of these albums appear here along with a non-LP single plus four previously unreleased rarities. The first time these 60s recordings have been collected, it’s interesting, as the liner notes suggest, just how ‘alone’ Priscilla is on these songs. Her young life was always lived under pressure which caused an array of problems. On this nicely mastered CD, Priscilla’s voice really comes into its own when she lets lose and puts some energy behind her lyrics while her low key ‘Spector-esque’ husky approach can waver and sound slightly uncontrolled and wavering. Nevertheless, all of these songs are worthy of investigation. There’s plenty of quality here and plenty of self-penned tracks to dwell upon. Often introspective, sometimes sensitive and yearning, they are all infused with genuine emotion and enough innocent insecurity to demand the attention.