Little Darlin' by Sheila (Luv's former label mate): 40th anniversary edition
Dernière mise à jour : 10 sept.
This article was written in memory of the late and talented Keith Olsen.
In October 1979, Dutch girl group Luv' signed an exclusive and lucrative record deal with CNR (a label affiliated with the French company Carrere). Prior to this contract, Luv's previous label, Philips/Phonogram, already licensed the rights for some records (including You're the Greatest Lover, Trojan Horse and With Luv') to Carrere in Germany.
Among the label mates of the ladies at Carrere was French chanteuse Sheila (who fronted the disco group Sheila & B. Devotion between 1977 and 1980). Luv's glory years coincided with Sheila & B. Devotion's heyday. Click here to read a portrait of Sheila during her disco years and success on the international marketplace.
Last year, Warner Music France reissued the iconic "King Of The World" album by Sheila & B. Devotion (including the classic hit "Spacer" produced by the Chic Organization (Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards). Click here to read an article about this 40th-anniversary Deluxe re-release.
Last Spring saw the release of Sheila's long-awaited album entitled "Venue d'Ailleurs" by Warner/New Chance. Click here for information about this opus. On October 29th, 2021, a Deluxe edition of Venue d'Ailleurs came out.
Sheila's fans have another reason to rejoice as Warner Music France reissued the legendary Little Darlin' album for its 40th anniversary on November 19th.
Three formats are available: Deluxe triple vinyl edition, 2CD edition and white vinyl (exclusively on the Sheila / Warner store & at Fnac).
The triple vinyl and 2CD editions include:
Disc 1: The 1981 album remastered from the original analogue tapes, with the bonus track 'Prisoner' and its alternate version, as well as remixes of 'It's Only Make Believe' by Monsieur Willy & Sami Dee (of Funky French League) and remixes of Little Darlin' by Geyster (initially released in 2018).
Disc 2: A 2021 mix of the album produced by Fred Falke, accompanied by exclusive remixes by the same DJ of Little Darlin' and Runner (club, dub and edit versions).
Click here to buy a copy of the 2021 edition of Little Darlin' or to listen to it on the major online platforms (Spotify, Deezer, YouTube and iTunes/Apple Music).
Little Darlin' (2021 Fred Falke Remix) (Edit)
Before Little Darlin's release, Sheila scored disco hits (including Love Me Baby (1977), Singin' In the Rain (1977), You Light My Fire (1978) and Spacer (1979) on the international record charts. Three American back-up singers/dancers (Dany Mac Farlane, Freddy Stracham and Arthur Wilkins) known as B. Devotion were hired to accompany her.
After the Disco Sucks movement caused an anti-disco backlash, Sheila decided to team up with American record producer and sound engineer Keith Olsen in 1981. Under Olsen's guidance, the French singer recorded ten songs inspired by the Californian soft-rock sound at the Goodnight L.A. Studios. Throughout his career, Olsen worked with the crème de la crème of pop and rock music: Rick Springfield, Fleetwood Mac, Ozzy Osbourne, the Grateful Dead, Whitesnake, Pat Benatar, Heart, Santana, Saga, Foreigner, Scorpions, Magnum, Journey, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Joe Walsh, 38 Special, and Eric Burdon & the Animals.
Little Darlin's original track listing consisted of:
Little Darlin' (Holly Knight, Amanda Blue)
It's Only Make Believe (Tom Kelly)
Stranded (Tom Kelly, David Foster, Jay Graydon, William-Thomas Thacker)
I'm still believin' (Tom Kelly, Bill Champlin)
Put it in writing (Tom Kelly, Kerry Hatch)
Waiting for the night (Chas Sandford)
Runner (Ian Thomas)
Nothing less than love (Steve Diamond, Byron Hill)
Saturday night (Eric Troyer, David Brown)
Front and back covers of the original Little Darlin' LP - Photography: Syun Suke Hashimoto
A tenth track entitled "Prisoner" (written by John Desautels and Karen Lawrence) was supposed to be part of the album, but the record company decided to remove it. It only appeared on a British compilation released by K-TEL. It was included as a bonus track on the 1995 compilation "Les Années Disco". It was added on the 2016 reissue of the Little Darlin' album on 33+1⁄3 rpm LP (picture disc edition).
An A-team of music professionals took part in the recording of Little Darlin':
Backing Vocals – Bill Champlin, Richard Page, Tom Kelly, Trevor Raven, Venette Gloud
Bass – Dennis Belfield, Ricky Phillips
Drums – Mike Baird
Engineers – Chris Minto, Keith Olsen
Guitar – Chas Sandford, Tim Pierce
Keyboards – Alan Pasqua, Bill Champlin
Producer – Keith Olsen
Fun fact: Richard Page and Tom Kelly who worked on Sheila's album also collaborated with the former Luv' singer Patty Brard on her first solo LP entitled "All This Way" which came out in early 1981. Click here to read an article about Patty's album.
Tom Kelly took part in the writing of "It's Only Make Believe", "Stranded", "I'm Still Believin'" and "Put It In Writing" for Sheila. With Richard Page, he recorded background vocals with other session singers. Kelly and Page were previously part of the backup vocalists on Patty's All This Way.
Little Darlin' album and single : release
Little Darlin' came out as the lead single taken from the album of the same name in November 1981. Click here for details about Little Darlin's worldwide release.
The music video for the single was directed by David Mallet who later shot Let's Dance and China Girl by David Bowie as well as Radio Gaga by Queen. Moreover, Mallet filmed a second music video with Sheila: Put It In Writing (Little Darlin's B-side).
Little Darlin' (music video)
Put It In Writing (music video)
Sheila performed Little Darlin' on several occasions on European TV:
October 15th, 1981: Musikladen on Radio Bremen, Germany
November 1st, 1981: Discoring on RAI 1, Italy
November 4th, 1981: C’est du Spectacle on Antenne 2, France and Popcorn (with Put it in writing) on RAI 1, Italy
November 5th, 1981: Film Festival Internazionale di Milano on RAI 1, Italy
November 15th, 1981: Chansons à la Carte on RTBF 1, Belgium
November 28th, 1981: Stars on TF1, France
Sheila and Michel Drucker during the rehearsals for Stars
December 3rd, 1981: Little Darlin' (music video) on Avis de Recherche on TF1, France
December 8th, 1981: Little Darlin' (music video) on Midi Première on TF1, France
December 16th, 1981: Palmarès 81 on Antenne 2, France
Backstage pictures of Sheila with Guy Lux (host of Palmarès 81) and other celebrities (including Guy Béart, Julien Clerc, Richard Cocciante, Coluche, Annie Cordy, Dalida, Dave, Sacha Distel, Serge Gainsbourg, France Gall, Johnny Hallyday, Serge Lama, Roland Magdane, Mireille Mathieu, Eddy Mitchell, Nana Mouskouri, Claude Nougaro, Tino Rossi, Michel Sardou, Patrick Sébastien):
Dalida, Guy Lux and Sheila
Sheila, Serge Gainsbourg and Coluche
December 22nd, 1981: Numéro 1 Julio Iglesias on TF1, France
Sheila on Numéro Un Julio Iglesias
December 26th, 1981: Tip Tap Club on RAI 2, Italy
December 31st, 1981: Midi Première on TF1, France
January 20th, 1982: Little Darlin' (music video) on Platine 45 on Antenne 2, France
January 31st, 1982: Put it in writing (music video) on Entrez les Artistes on Antenne 2, France
February 10th, 1982: Put it in writing (music video) on Les Visiteurs du Mercredi on TF1, France
December 11th, 1982: Cœur en fête on Télévision Suisse Romande, Switzerland
Droit de réponse: controversy
In addition to these TV performances, Sheila appeared on the controversial French talk show "Droit de réponse" (hosted by Michel Polac) on TF1 on December 19th, 1981 to promote Little Darlin'. During the program, a student strongly criticized the singer telling her music was too commercial. Comedians Josiane Balasko, Guy Bedos, Pierre Desproges and film director Jean-Claude Carrière came to Sheila's rescue to defend her. Click here to watch an excerpt from Droit de réponse.
Sheila sitting next to Pierre Desproges and Jean-Claude Carrière and trying to defend her artistic integrity on Droit de réponse
Sheila in Billboard magazine
Sheila was mentioned in late 1981 and early 1982 in Billboard magazine, the Bible of the recording industry.
Billboard magazine's review of Little Darlin' - November 21st, 1981
Billboard magazine - December 26th, 1981
Billboard magazine - January 16th, 1982
Billboard magazine - February 13th, 1982
In March 1982, Carrere released Runner as the second single taken from Little Darlin'. Due to a lack of promotion, the song didn't chart at all.
Little Darlin' (the single) spent nine weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 (US main singles chart). It entered at #89 on December 12th, 1981 and peaked at #49 on January 23rd, 1982. Moreover, it stayed ten weeks on the Cashbox chart (Billboard's rival) and reached #61. In France, it peaked at #35, stayed 10 weeks on the chart and sold 76.549 copies. Sheila's presence on the American charts was an unusual achievement for a French act at the time but Little Darlin' was less popular than the singer's international disco hits performed with B. Devotion. Despite its Californian catchy sound, the record was largely ignored in the world except for France and USA. However, it reached cult status among Sheila's fans.
Little Darlin' chart run mentioned on Billboard's website
Billboard Hot 100 on January 23rd, 1982 including Little Darlin' peaking at #49
In France, Little Darlin' (album) and Runner (single) sold 70.000 and 16.000 copies respectively.
Little Darlin' was Sheila's last big international project. Due to the record's disappointing sales, the former yé-yé girl returned to France to focus her career on the domestic music market in Spring 1982.
Prior to the 2021 reissue, the Little Darlin' album was re-released on several occasions: on CD by East West in 1996 and Warner Music in 2006, on 33+1⁄3 rpm LP (picture disc edition) in 2016 by Warner Music. Remixes of Little Darlin' by Geyster were available on 12-inch red vinyl record in 2018.
Source: Sheila Officiel (website and social media), Warner Music France, Sheila - On dit...dans le monde des artistes (blog archives), Sheilacharts.blogspot.com, Billboard magazine, YouTube, Wikipedia...