Although her outstanding recordings in the 1960s were critically acclaimed and she counted Dusty Springfield, the Hollies and Patti LaBelle among her fans and admirers, Brooklyn-born Evie Sands was the hard-luck girl of the era.
Songwriter Chip Taylor (“Wild Thing”) and guitarist Al Gorgoni (“Brown Eyed Girl”) teamed up with Evie in the mid 1960s and produced a string of singles for Lieber and Stoller’s Blue Cat label. The first, Take Me For A Little While, with an absolutely wonderful vocal, seemed to be a sure smash. Especially, as it turned out, to an unscrupulous promoter who took a test pressing over to the people working on Chess soul singer Jackie Ross’ followup to her monster hit “Selfish One”. A hastily recorded imitation version was released at the same time as Evie’s original. The subsequent litigation and confusion caused radio to back away and Evie’s version was only a regional hit.
Evie’s next single, Taylor and Gorgoni’s I Can’t Let Go, was caught up in the wake of the earlier fiasco and was relegated to an also-ran when the Hollies turned their version into an international hit.
In 1967, Sands and Taylor tried again with Angel of the Morning for Cameo Records. In its first week of release, the single was the most requested song on radio around the country. However, Cameo went bankrupt and copies of the single never made it to the stores. Several months later, Angel of the Morning was a huge hit for Merrilee Rush.
Finally, in 1969 Evie, teaming up again with Taylor & Gorgoni, had some success with Taylor’s Any Way That You Want Me which sold 500,000 copies and Rolling Stone called it one of the best singles of the year. An album of the same name sold modestly despite critical acclaim and Evie didn’t resurface until the mid 1970s when she scored two top 40 hits.
Evie then devoted her creative energies to songwriting, penning tunes for artists such as Barbara Streisand, Gladys Knight and Dusty Springfield but stayed out of the spotlight herself for many years.
A chance encounter with Taylor in 1996 led to a comeback album in 1998 called Women in Prison which featured a wonderful duet with Lucinda Williams. This led to a few appearances with Belle & Sebastian who, along with many others in the UK, had always loved those neglected singles from the 1960s.