The Shangri-Las: The Complete Collection

Nearly complete collection with some stereo bonuses

With so many cheap Shangri-Las compilations arriving on digital download lately, you have to wonder if someone forgot to renew the copyrights. This set is a nearly complete accounting of the Shangri-Las official releases, including the tracks from their two albums (Leader of the Pack and Shangri-Las ’65), their pre- and post-Red Bird singles for Spokane, Scepter, Smash and Mercury, the well circulated alternate take of “Give Him a Great Big Kiss,” two ads for Revlon, and Mary Weiss’ period “good taste tip” radio spots. All that’s missing is their cover of “Twist and Shout,” as it appeared on their first album and single B-side. Perhaps the second, lo-fi version of “It’s Easier to Cry” that’s included here was supposed to be the missing track.

These appear to be all original recordings, mono except for 1, 3, 5, 9, 11, 17 and 26. The stereo mixes exhibit some differences from the mono versions anthologized on RPM’s Myrmidons of Melodrama [1 2], particularly in the instrumental balance. “Remember (Walkin’ in the Sand)” is 2:41 rather than the mono version’s 2:15, with the backing vocals panned left the handclaps and finger snaps panned right, and an ending that stretches the bass riff and backing vocals past Mary Weiss lead vocal. After the motorcycle crash sound effect, “Leader of the Pack” includes two extra vamps that aren’t present on RPM’s mono master. Assuming these are original stereo performances, they’re great bonuses for Shangri-Las collectors, but it’s a shame Goldenlane doesn’t provide any explanation of where these came from.

Track ordering mostly front-loads the group’s Red Bird era singles, though not uniformly. This leaves their pre-Red Bird singles as bonus tracks at collection’s end. Track-to-track volume levels aren’t perfectly balanced, though most MP3 players will fix this for you in playback. The packaging, or complete lack thereof, keeps this from reaching the pinnacle of reissue heights, but it’s hard to argue with thirty-nine girl group classics for less than the cost of a typical 12-track CD. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

Mary Weiss’ Home Page
Mary Weiss’ MySpace Page
Unofficial Shangri-Las Web Site

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