Posts Tagged ‘Goldenlane’

The Shangri-Las: The Complete Collection

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

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

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

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

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]