Monday Video Flashback: Millie Small “Enoch Power”
Seems we’re on a Millie Small kick lately. To further illustrate the point that Millie wasn’t a one hit wonder here is a video with her playing Wembly Stadium in 1970 with a powerfully proactive political song “Enoch Power” coming out against Mr. Powell. This was before the real positive roots reggae took hold of reggae music in the late 70’s showing that Millie was in fact an artist to look up to and a Jamaican trailblazer ahead of the curve.
And as a bonus here’s another live video (See Below) of her performing her hit on Canadian TV in 1964. The text posted with the video sums it all up pretty well and I include it here with respect to SoDamnYeah.
Millie Small’s singing career began when she was still a teenager. She became a popular artist in the West Indies and was one of the few female performers to be involved in the branch of R&B music that grew in those islands, called ‘Ska’.
Her early local successes were made as half of a duet called ‘Roy And Millie’. The other half was called Roy Panton. She recorded as half of ‘Owen & Millie’ (Owen Gray) and ‘Jackie & Millie’ (Jackie Edwards).
These record releases were on labels like ‘Studio One’, ‘Island’ and the legendary ‘Blue Beat’. In fact she was to become known in the West Indies as the ‘Blue Beat Girl’ and ‘Ska’ is still known by many people as ‘blue beat’.
Millie was brought to Britain during 1963 by Chris Blackwell, who later made an effort to promote Reggae in the UK. Her first UK release ‘Don’t You Know’ owed less to her Ska background, being accompanied by an orchestra conducted by Lord Rockingham’s Harry Robinson. It didn’t sell too badly but Millie’s unique high pitched style wasn’t enough to get it into the chart.
However, her second release was a stronger song and was based more closely to the West Indian rhythms she was accustomed to. It became a massive hit on both sides of the Atlantic, reaching number 2 in the U.S. chart as well as in Britain.
Sadly, despite the great success of the record, it did not set a new musical style in people’s awareness. ‘My Boy Lollipop’ was simply regarded by most record buyers at the time as an item of delightful, but lightweight ‘pop’ . (Incidentally the record is alleged by some to have a young Rod Stewart on harmonica).
Although she had a couple of further minor hits, she never managed to consolidate her famous smash. She remained in the public conscience for a long time and was also regarded by many as a role model.