Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Susie Vanner: Life & Soul

Susie Vanner
Susie Vanner Susie Vanner Susie Vanner Susie Vanner

Known affectionately to millions across the globe as Log Cabin Girl (aka Martine Blanchaud) for her iconic intimate scene alongside Roger Moore in the classic 1977 James Bond movie "The Spy Who Loved Me", veteran British actress and singer Susie Vanner this month returns to her first love - music - with the release of her debut album "In These Shoes". Which, already pioneered by her effervescently funky/jazzy update of Lou Reed's 1972 glam-rock classic "Walk On The Wild Side", boasts production throughout from Grammy-winning guitarist/keyboardist Kipper (renowned for his production of albums for Sting and Gary Numan) and was interestingly recorded in Mark Knopfler's award-winning, Chiswick-based British Grove Studios.

Indeed, with all tracks impressively featuring the BBC Concert Orchestra - who prestigiously recorded their parts at London's famed Abbey Road Studios - "In These Shoes" boasts an array of sophisticated musical moods ranging from a chillingly dramatic take on Julie London's torch classic "Cry Me A River" and a swinging, brassy update of Gloria Jones' Northern Soul anthem "Tainted Love" to a pitch-perfect, delicate rendition of Corinne Bailey Rae's 2005 ballad "Just Like A Star" and a cool, sweepingly-orchestrated version of Nat "King" Cole's haunting "Nature Boy".

Interestingly, while now-68-year-old Susie was indeed a prolific actress in the 1970's and 1980's - appearing in everything from high-ratings British TV series like "Minder" and "Tales Of The Unexpected" to film roles with such Hollywood royalty as Kirk Douglas and Sylvester Stallone - what nevertheless renders her of particular relevance to "Blues & Soul" readers is the fact that, prior to her acting career, she was actually a singer signed to RCA. When in the late-Sixties, under the name Sue Lynne, she recorded a handful of singles that (while not hits at the time) have since become Northern Soul standards and which fetch considerable money these days - most notably the 1969-released, highly-collectable "Don't Pity Me".

…All of which in turn brings us back to today, as a chatty and charming Ms Vanner - who in the mid-Eighties quit her career to have a family - meets up with "Blues & Soul" Assistant Editor Pete Lewis in a bustling West London boutique coffee bar to discuss her early Essex upbringing; her Northern Soul heroin status; plus of course the aforementioned "In These Shoes", a debut album recently described as "a lifetime in the making".

PETE: What's the story behind you recording your new debut album?

SUSIE: "One particular evening my husband and I were at a charity ball at The Dorchester, we were sat on Simon Cowell's table who's a friend, he put me next to this amazing guy who I loved talking to whose name happened to be Kipper Eldridge... And then, as the night went on, because he loves my singing voice my husband very willingly put his hand up to enter me into an auction, the prize for which was to spend a day with Kipper at his studio in the country recording a song… And we ended up winning! But then on the actual day of recording, though I was initially only supposed to be singing one song I ended up doing two, which were "Cry Me A River" and "Just Like A Star"… And because Kipper was so impressed, though I thought I was only going to be recording with him for that particular day he ended up turning to me and saying 'I'd like to do a whole album with you!'!... So yeah, this album has turned out to be a dream come true. In that, it features all my favourite songs that I chose with a lot of thought. Plus, because of a personal situation I was going through at the time, I genuinely do think they are sung with a lot of depth and emotion”.

PETE; How did you end up featuring the BBC Concert Orchestra throughout the record and what was the whole experience like of watching them record at Abbey Road Studios?

SUSIE: "While Kipper, who by the way is a Grammy Award-winning producer who's worked with the likes of Sting and Stevie Wonder, started off with computerised backing tracks - which is what a lot of people have these days instead of musicians - when we got about midway through recording the album he basically turned to me and said 'We can either keep it like this with my computerised tracks or we can make it really special by getting in an orchestra and a live band'. So I was like 'Let's do it!'! And with him having himself been a musician before he became a record producer, it meant he was able to collect together some truly amazing people - like for example Guy Barker, who's simply one of the best arrangers around! And being at Abbey Road Studios with a full orchestra was like something truly out of this world! I mean, I couldn't believe it! I had to pinch myself! Because all the strings and the brass and everyone else just came in and, with Guy already having given them the arrangements, they just flat-out did it in like one or two takes! You know, they were just so professional… So yes, it was something truly amazing to watch and hear and I just suddenly knew, from that moment on, my album was going to be very, very special!”.

The album "In These Shoes" is out through Dolce Vanner Records.

To read more from B&S Assistant Editor Pete Lewis' exclusive interview with singer/actress Susie Vanner, including where Vanner's acting and singing career started and then blossomed, from Bond girl to Northern Soul heroin all in the current issue of Blues & Soul magazine - click the 'BUY NOW' link below to order straight from the B&S shop or read on for high street retailer details...

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