Rave! Reviews 3: CDs, Compilations

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Kick some sand! It's Girl Group Gems!


(Red Bird Entertainment, July 2001)

Makers of girl-group CD compilations must have a dilemma. How to satisfy the new fan as well as the hard-core collector? Those of us who fall under the "hard-core" category have numerous copies of "Chapel of Love," "Leader of the Pack," and all the other songs that typically appear on compilations.

This CD breaks the mold, offering 15 fab tracks that give the traditional girl-group sound for the new fan, but also aren't likely to be in the hands of the long-time collector.

A few months ago, I saw a Donna Loren film clip from a 1960s beach movie on the AMC channel, and flipped when I saw her shaking, swinging and singing her wild tune, "Muscle Buscle." Imagine my delight to find this song on the CD, along with her song "Dream World." Annette adds to the mix with her "Better Be Ready" and "Perfect Boy," two more new tunes to my collection.

Subtitled "Soul to Surf Rarities," there's no shortage in the soul department. Perhaps the number one track is "I Gotta Tell It," by the Blossoms. This tune has it all--the sassy chatter of black girls gossiping on the street corner, Darlene Love's voice romping through the melody and background girls ordering, "Girl, shut your mouth!" It also epitomizes this collection, being a perfect blend of "surf" via its bass line and rhythm guitar riffs, and soul because of the well-rendered vocals, hand-clapping, finger-snapping, and overall liveliness.

Other tracks from this does-no-wrong collection are from Erlene and Her Girlfriends, Dorothy Berry, Kriss Anderson (with the lively "He's My Boyfriend," a rival to the Blossoms' "I Gotta Tell It"), Yvonne Carroll and Yvonne and the Violets. Thank goodness that CDs, unlike the vinyl of days past, don't wear out with repeated playings.

To order Girl Group Gems online, go to Girl Group Gems
To order by mail, send $14.99 plus $3.50 shipping (check or money order) to: Ed Engel, P.O. Box 620809, Little Neck, NY 11362.

A Cellarful of Motown
(Several artists)
This gem collection took off like a Motown runaway 60s hit. Originally released in the U.K., Motown wasn't sure about releasing it in the U.S. When they did so, it was modest. After all, most of these are nearly 40-year-old songs, and Motown is certainly not some "forgotten" label like Stax or Verve.

What they didn't plan on was for Rolling Stone magazine to give them a rave review. Newly released this fall, it sold out of record stores across the U.S. within a week. But you should easily find it back in stores now.

Packed with 40 previously- unreleased songs, this collection isn't all girl groups, but does have 15 girl-group hits from 1960-66. Others, such as Gladys Knight & the Pips' and other groups' songs of the later 60s, will also satisfy.

The Velvelettes, who in a little-known victory, beat the Supremes in a 1963 Motown "Battle of the Stars" competition, has a cover here of the Supremes song, "Long Gone Lover"--clearly better than the Supremes' version. The Marvelettes score with "Poor Little Rich Girl," a snappy tune that could have been a hit.

The other girl-group sounds come from Martha & and the Vandellas, the Lewis Sisters, Brenda Holloway, Tammi Terrell, Barbara McNair, Chris Clark, Carolyn Crawford, Kim Weston.

Ironically, the two best songs on the CD are by men: "Are You Sure Love is the Name of the Game" by Stevie Wonder and the fabulous "Lucky Lucky Me" by Jimmy Ruffin. A handful of the songs should have been left in the vault--"I Wish I Liked You (As Much As I Love You)," by Marvin Gaye, a soap-operaish moan with overdone vocals comes to mind--but overall this is a satisfying find worth getting. Available at: Cellarful of Motown

Songs included on the CD

60's Girl Groups
(Several artists)
A fantastic collection of 17 songs, featuring the unforgettable "Wounded" (Cookies), "Doctor of Hearts" (Chiffons), and "He's a Doll" (Honeys), plus rare tracks from the Dolls, Royalettes, Apollas, Blossoms, Pearls and Revlons. Available at: 60's Girl Groups

Best of the Girl Groups, Vol. 1
(Several artists)
A great place to start a collection of girl-group sounds. This has the classic songs you know and love: "Leader of the Pack" (Shangri-Las), "He's So Fine" (Chiffons), "Chapel of Love" (Dixie Cups), "Boy from New York City" (Ad-Libs) and more. Available at: Best of the Girl Groups, Vol. 1

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A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector
(The Ronettes, Darlene Love, The Crystals, Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans)
A great CD, even in summer. The Ronettes, Darlene Love, and Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans sing classics, along with a girl-group original, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)." Leon Russell played piano, Sonny Bono played percussion, and Phil Spector produced. Available at: A Christmas Gift for You

Del Phi Girl Groups: Gee Baby Gee
"Splish Splash Twist" with the funky Desda, along with five hits from the Sisters. This quirky collection from a girl-group label is hard to find and a keeper for sure. Other songs you can't miss: "I'll Give My Life" by Brenda Holloway, "Sooner or Later" and "It's the Last Time" by the Ladybugs, and "Shade of Red" by Pippy Shannon. Available at: Del-Fi Girl Groups
The Girl Group Sound
(Various Artists)
Twenty-five fab songs. You might have some of them already, such as "The Boy from New York City" or "Chapel of Love," but this isn't the usual collection of number-one hits. You'll get the tremendous "Iko Iko" by the Dixie cups, sultry "Go Now" by Bessie Banks, the still-fresh "I Can't Let Go" by Evie Sands, and incredible tunes from Cathy Saint, Roddie Joy, Jelly Beans, the Goodies, and many more. Big bonus: the inimitable "You Don't Know" by Ellie Greenwich. Available at: The Girl Group Sound
Girls Will Be Girls
(Several artists)
31 songs for 10 bucks! I'm a collector of tough-to-find girl-group tracks, so I delighted in these hits by the Chic-Lets, Jet Set, Parlettes, Boyd Sisters, Barry Sisters, Tammys, Jewels, Bobbettes and Barbara English and the Fashions, and more. Better-known girl-group stars are included with their less-heard songs: the Essex ("I'll Let the Boys Know"), Diane Renay ("The Company You Keep"), Jessica James and the Outlaws (Peggy Santaglia of the Angels) singing "Give Her Up (Baby)." Available at: Girls Will Be Girls
One Kiss Can Lead to Another
(Various Artists)
A whopping 120 remastered tracks from 107 artists are included on Girl Group Sounds: One Kiss Can Lead to Another, a long-awaited box set release from Rhino/Warner Bros. Every possible girl-group style is represented on these four discs.

The unique package replicates a mod-style hat box, CD cases that look like makeup compacts and CDs made to look like powder puffs. The booklet, which resembles a 1960s teen girl's diary, contains essays, rare photos, track notes and artist quotes.

Among the ultra-rare songs included: I'd Much Rather Be with the Girls by Donna Lynn, Life And Soul Of The Party by Mally Page, Dolly Parton's only girl-group song, Don't Drop Out, I'm Gonna Destroy That Boy by the What Fours, He Makes Me So Mad by the Hollywood Jills, and You're No Good sung long before Linda Ronstadt by Dionne's less-famous sister Dee Dee Warwick.

Of course, the collection contains a juicy array of long-loved girl-group tunes like, Needle in a Haystack by the Velvelettes, Out in the Streets by the Shangri-Las, Evie Sands' ahead-of-its-time I Can't Let Go, the soulful Mixed Up Shook Up Girl by Patty & the Emblems, the eternal Go Now by Bessie Banks, the classic Ellie Greenwich-penned tune, I Have a Boyfriend by the Chiffons, and the ever-fun I'm Into Something Good by Earl-Jean.

Associate producer of the CD set is John Grecco, founder of Red Bird Entertainment.

Available at: Girl Group Sounds: One Kiss Can Lead to Another

Phil's Spectre: A Wall of Soundalikes

Whether you hate or love Phil, you'll relish this clever collection. These are songs like Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound," but of course are imitations. "When You Walk in the Room" by Jackie DeShannon has Spector's ghost there in the recording studio. "Run Run Run" was a non-hit by the Supremes before they were famous--while Motown tried to copy the Wall of Sound. The hard-to-find gay icon hit, "Boys Town" by Nino Tempo is here, too. There's even the rare song, "Hang On," by a group called the Wall of Sound! Available at: Phil's Spectre
Phil's Spectre II: Another Wall of Soundalikes
As was said in the Wizard of Oz, "Oh joy!" Another cavalcade of Spector wannabes. Revel in "One Block from Heaven," a seldom-heard song by Mary Wells, "I Do" by the Beach Boys, "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" by the Victorians (why that song?) and "Be My Man" by Suzy Wallis. I also enjoyed the rarity "Nite Owl" by the Righteous Brothers, even though it's far from a girl-group song. Haven't heard "Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore" by Ruby & the Romantics? Who has? Only here will you find these rare gems. Available at: Phil's Spectre II

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Click here for  Reviews 1: CDs of Groups

Reviews 2: CDs of Soloists     Click here

Click here for  Reviews 4: Books, DVDs

Where the Girls Are, Vol. 1
(Several artists)
Packed with 24 songs! None are very famous, but some you will never find anywhere else: aging Doris Day's attempt at the girl-group sound, "Oo-Wee Baby," Dolly Parton's only girl-group record, "Don't Drop Out," Joey Heatherton's "Live and Learn," the odd "Condition Red" by the Goodees.

Includes super-rare tracks from Erma Franklin (Aretha's sister), Idalia Boyd (Little Eva's little sister), Charmettes, Lovettes, Kolettes, Sherrys, Tren-Teens, Charmaine, Carolyn Carter, Patty and the Emblems, Reparata and the Delrons and more. Available at: Where the Girls Are, Vol. 1

Where the Girls Are, Volume 2
(Various artists)
Whoa! A whopping 30 girl-group rarities. The unreleased gem, "Bye Bye Baby," written by Mary Wells, is sung by Goldie & the Gingerbreads, perhaps the only girl group who played their own instruments. Another exquisite track is the contemporary-sounding "Sweet & Lovely" by Candy & the Kisses. Don't miss the Shangri-Las' sweet first release (but not a hit), "Wishing Well." Other beauts: "A Groovy Kind of Love" (1965!) by Diana & Annita; "I Didn't Mean to Hurt You" (Shirelles); "Let Me Down Easy" (Toys); "You Won't Be There" (Teardrops); the funny "He's a Fink" (Silky & the Shantungs) and more. Available at: Where the Girls Are, Vol. 2

Where the Girls Are, Volume 3
(Various artists)
The girls sing on in the next volume of this fabulous set. This one digs even deeper into the vaults, with 26 juicy tracks. Among the sweet sounds are: "My Baby's Real" by the Clickettes; "Jing Jing a Ling" (Honey & the Bees); "Just How Much" (Kolettes); "Don't 'Cha Know" (Lockets); "You're Changing" (Mary & the Desirables) and more. Solo artists include Tammy Montgomery, Jean Dushan, Carol Vega, Mitty Collier, and others. Available at: Where the Girls Are, Vol. 3

Where the Girls Are Vol. 4
How can you continue to exist without having heard the delectable, "Wise Guy" by Shirley Matthews & the Big Town Girls? Well, you can't without this rare collection. The spunky "Dip Da Dip" by Angela Martin is a romp, and "In Paradise" by the Cookies along with "Untrue Love" by the Bobbettes make this a must-have. There are also delightful unheard tracks from Patti Labelle & the Bluebelles, Goldie & the Gingerbreads, Doris Troy ("You'd Better Stop") and more. The icing on the cake: "At the Party" by Tami Lynn. Party on! Available at: Where the Girls Are Vol. 4

About your reviewer...

Chuck Mallory is a former book reviewer for the Kansas City Star and has been published in several magazines. He lives in Chicago. Don't see your favorite girl-group CD here? Want to hear about a book? Send your review suggestions: Please review...

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