Various Artists: The Shangri-Las & The Girl Group Sound

Various_ShangriLasAndTheGirlGroupSoundExtensive girl group collection with little provenance

70 tracks, all of which seem to be original, many or all remastered from vinyl. There’s some surface noise, pops and clicks, and passing moments of groove distortion, but they don’t detract from the enjoyment of spinning this collection of girl group classics and rarities. Among the best-known are original sides from the Shangri-Las that Goldenlane seems to have leased at a very agreeable price (see their accompanying Shangri-Las set, The Complete Collection), the Murmaids’ “Popsicles and Icicles,” and the Chiffons’ brilliantly ecstatic “I Have a Boyfriend.” Many of the other sides here will be familiar to girl group collectors, but for those who only know the Shirelles, Ronettes, Crystals and Shangri-Las, there are some great rarities awaiting you.

Among the more traditional girl group tracks are the Coupons’ infectious “Turn Her Down” and the Cinderellas’ “Baby Baby (I Still Love You),” a pair that will be familiar to fans of April March’s late-80s group, The Pussywillows. Other highlights include The Aprils’ soaring and soulful “Precious Love,” the Marvelettes-styled “Mary Ann” by Honey Love & the Love Notes, the Blue Cat/Red Bird single “Dum Dum Ditty” by the Goodies, the Phil Spectorish “Oo Chang-A-Lang” by the Orchids and “I Love Him” by the Castanets, Betty Hope’s call-and-response “Just a Little Bit More,” the Shangri-Las styled drama “Nightmare” by the Whyte Boots, the Puppets’ bad attitude on “Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart” and the British Invasion pop of Donovan’s “You Just Gotta Know My Mind” as sung by Karen Verros.

But this set isn’t all pop, as there are brassy sides like Shirley’s “Big Boss Man,” and a twangy cover of Willie Cobbs’ classic blues “You Don’t Love Me” sung coolly by the Starlets. There’s mid-60s psych by Manuela and Drafi on the German/English “Take it Easy” and an acid-drenched cover of the American Breed’s “Bend Me, Shape Me” by the Models. Folk-rock is heard in the Termites cover of the Stones’ “Tell Me” and the Chymes’ “Quite a Reputation,” and Merrilee Rush, a few years ahead of her chart hit “Angel of the Morning,” sings the tough “It’s All Right.” There’s Collins’ Kids-styled rockabilly, garage punk, and even a side by Trik and the Paramounts that sounds like Nico with the Velvet Underground!

A few novelty tunes also make the cut, such as the Belles’ rewrite of “Gloria” as “Melvin,” the Beatles reply “I’ll Let You Hold My Hand” by the Bootles, and Judy Carne’s Laugh-In inspired “Sock it to Me.” It’s not 100% hits or would-be hits, but the number of excellent tunes here is almost numbing in its intensity. For a record label that’s been known to substitute re-makes for originals, this is a big step forward in presenting original recordings. What would send this set over the top would be well researched liner notes and photos that provide provenance for the wealth of obscure cuts included here. But given the price for seventy tracks, it’s hard to complain. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

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