Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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BROOKS, Elkie

(b Elaine Bookbinder, 25 Feb. '45, Manchester) UK singer. Her father was a baker; Elkie the Yiddish equivalent of Elaine. Made pro debut at 15, billed as 'Manchester's Brenda Lee'; moved to London, entered jazz scene with bands led by Eric Delaney, later Humphrey Lyttelton; first single 'Something's Got A Hold On Me' '64; commenced session career. Linkup with guitarist Pete Gage (b 31 Aug. '47), ex-Geno Washington's Ram Jam Band, led to twelve-piece jazz/rock group Dada; one eponymous LP for Atco '70 before slimming down to R&B-oriented Vinegar Joe. Shared vocals in both bands with Robert Palmer, the combination of her huskiness and his urbanity effective, as was her stage appearance with thigh-high skirts la Tina Turner. Band incl. Steve York, bass; Mike Deacon, keyboards, Pete Gavin, drums; made three LPs for Island: Vinegar Joe, Rock'n'Roll Gypsies and Six Star General '72--3 without capturing their raunchy live flavour. After Joe disbanded '74, Brooks signed to A&M as a solo. Like Maggie Bell, her only competition as gutsiest female rocker of the era, she seemed unlikely to fulfil promise on the basis of Rich Man's Woman '75. Sudden change to MOR material on Two Days Away '77 (prod. by Leiber and Stoller) brought UK top ten hits with (own comp.) 'Pearl's A Singer' and 'Sunshine After The Rain'. Concentrated on covers of pop material such as Chris Rea's 'Fool If You Think It's Over' '82, Moody Blues' 'Nights In White Satin', top five albums Pearls '81, compilation named for hit single, and Pearls II '82, both big Xmas hits. Only occasional LP tracks, such as Rod Stewart's 'Stay With Me' from Shooting Star '78, showed flashes of old fire; Screen Gems '84 was the first UK pop album released on CD. Then after guiding her into MOR, her label (A&M) regarded her as washed up; she switched to Mike Heap's Legend label for No More The Fool '86: back high in the charts with both album and title single, tougher songs by Alice Cooper ('Only Women Bleed') and Bob Seger. More albums were Live And Learn '79, Minutes '84, Bookbinder's Kid '88, Inspirations '89, Pearls III '91, Round Midnight '93; a dozen CDs available mid-'90s in UK testified to continuing popularity.