I’m fairly certain I wrote about Dana Gillespie on my old website, considering the cd reissue of her debut album Foolish Seasons on Rev-Ola in 2006 was a major moment in my life. I was living in Glasgow at the time and Rev-Ola’s founder Joe Foster also lived there. For record store day 2022, the original label Decca finally issued it on vinyl again – a welcome initiative since an original now fetches above €500. While not being nearly as rare as Billy Nicholl’s LP, which also came out in 1968 and from which Gillespie picked two songs to cover – it remains one of my favourite albums of the 60s. Along with her second album Box of Suprises of course, which is even rarer and consists only of her own compositions.
Strangely enough Foolish Seasons was only released in North America, via the “London” label. It notably includes Jimmy Page as session guitarist on the opening track “You Just Gotta Know My Mind” which was written by Donovan. Funnily enough it was also released as a single in France, but with both sides sung in French. Gillespie had already worked with Donovan on her singles and went on to release a split record with David Bowie in the early 1970s.
Like many other female musicians of that era she was objectified and often mentioned as a girlfriend of notable males. She got roles in several low budget movies but actually went on to star in a Nicolas Roeg film in 1980. Similarly, her musical career also veered away from popular music as she returned with a blues record in 1982, following an 8-year hiatus from recording. Since then, Gillespie has released albums continuously with her latest album coming out a year ago.
Coinciding with the reissue, Decca also shared her early singles on streaming services. Now we’re just waiting for Box of Surprises to be made available on vinyl again.