Celia & the Mutations only ever released two singles, and those four tracks featured the mysterious Celia backed by three different bands.
There are two versions of who Celia Gollin was, and how she came to make the record – but both involve The Stranglers and their manager Dai Davies.
In the first, she was a torch singer he came across by chance one night in 1977 in a London club or restaurant, singing with Rod Melvin, former keyboard player in Kilburn & The High Roads.
Her repertoire ranged from Marlene Dietrich to The Kinks and The Velvet Underground and Davies told Sounds at the time that he was instantly taken by the contrast between her cut-glass English rose demeanour and his “nasty dirty rock band.”
He backtracked later, saying that Gollin was in fact the band’s make-up artist who had worked with The Stranglers on their first album cover, which does sound more likely to me.
Whatever the truth, their first collaboration in June 1977 was a cover of Jimmy James & The Shondells’ 1968 chart-topper Mony Mony (later a hit for Billy Idol), with Celia backed by The Stranglers themselves.
They also wrote and played the B-side, Mean To Me, a role-reversal take on some typically misogynistic lyrics by Hugh Cornwell that they recorded early in their career – and later released on a free single with the Black And White album.
This is Celia’s second single, released in October 1977 but featuring a different band and a slightly different band name on each side.
You Better Believe Me, co-written by Gollin and Burnel and attributed to The Fabulous Mutations, had a line-up of Wilko Johnson on guitar, JJ Burnel on bass (and yelled backing vocals) and Man veteran Terry Williams on drums.
The B-side, Round And Around, is credited to The Young Mutations, including Phil Chambon and Andy Arthurs from Southend-on-Sea’s proto-powerpop combo Tonight, and sounds like Lene Lovich.
Unwilling to promote either record, Celia then disappeared from view, or perhaps went back to her make-up job, while The Stranglers became very much more visible as time went by.