Those of us who swear by the quality of product emanating from Ace of London were pleasantly surprised a few months ago when, after figuring that their excellent series The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll had ended with Volume 10, along came an 11th installment. The same applies to this equally-excellent but smaller series which appeared to have ended with Volume 4. Now we get # 5, complete with the usual top-of-the-line sound quality and extensive liner notes [23 pages] by Rob Finnis, including discography of the contents.
Sprinkled throughout are vintage poster/record reproductions which includes photographs of Andrea Carroll, Patty Duke, The Royalettes, Rag Dolls, Doris Troy, The Elektras, Patty Lace & The Petticoats, Cathy Carroll, Janie Black (with sister Jeanne), The Paris Sisters (with Phil Spector); Jo Ann Campbell, The Four Coquettes, Diane Renay. The Starlets, Maureen Gray, Tina Robin, and The Shepherd Sisters.
Here Ace presents a number of tunes that were the only hits for the artists concerned, a factor which makes them among the harder-to-find for those who focus on the "Girl Group Sound," as well as some that showed up on Billboard's "Bubbling Under" charts, introduced in 1959 to reflect those regional hits that just missed making the Hot 100. In that regard, tracks 2, 4, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 19, 23, 24 and 25 were shut out of the Hot 100 in their respective years, but all "bubbled under." Fulls details are contained in the discography on the reverse of the jewel case.
Almost half the contents here are also appearing in CD format for the first time, and in the cases of 12, 15 and 21, these are released in stereo for the first time. Except for the non-charters listed above, all the rest were Hot 100 hits to varying degrees, with the best of them being: Patty Duke's Don't Just Stand There (# 8 Hot 100 in July 1965 on United Artists); Just One Look by Doris Troy (# 3 R&B/# 10 Hot 100 in July 1963 on Atlantic and, somewhat incredibly, her only hit); Broken-Hearted Melody by Sarah Vaughan (# 5 R&B/# 7 Hot 100 in September 1959 on Mercury); Sue Thompson's Paper Tiger (# 23 Hot 100 in February 1965 on Hickory); and Navy Blue by Diane Renay (# 1 Adult Contemporary/# 5 Hot 100 in March 1964 on Ludix - quite an accomplishment for a small label, being right in the midst of the opening waves of the British Invasion).
Trivia abounds in here as well. The Rag Dolls' initial (and only other) hit, Society Girl (# 91 Hot 100 in September 1964 on Parkway) was an "answer" song to Rag Doll by The 4 Seasons, a song from which this Sarasota, Florida trio also took their name. Dusty finished at # 55 Hot 100 in February 1965 on Mala. Anita & The So, as such, had just the one hit, Joey, which topped out at # 91 Hot 100 in February 1962 on RCA Victor. But this was really Anita Jean Grob, better known as Anita Kerr, whose Singers backed many of the biggest hits of the 1950s and 1960s. Also a One-Hit wonder were The Bermudas (Donnie - # 62 Hot 100 in May 1964 on Era for Rickie Page and her two daughters, but it turns out Rickie was also part of Bobby "Boris" Pickett's back-up group, The Crypt-Kickers.
One correction to note is track 28, the full title of which is Dear Mr. D.J. Play It Again. In this # 95 Hot 100 in September 1961 on Mercury, One-Hit Wonder Tina Robin (who was a regular on Sing Along, a TV show hosted by Jim Lowe) sings snippets of classic R&B hits. Others with only one charter include Andrea Carroll (It Hurts To Be Sixteen - # 45 Hot 100 in August 1963 on Big Top), Cathy Carrol (Poor Little Puppet - # 91 Hot 100 in August 1962 on Warner - no relation to Andrea); and Maureen Gray (Dancin' The Strand - # 91 Hot 100 in June 1962 on Landa.
The above blurb refers to this release as Ace's "last hurrah" in this series, and if that's so it's indeed a shame as there are so many more Girl Group Sound tunes waiting to see the light of day on a quality CD (for example, the above mentioned Society Girl and Dixie Danny by The Laurie Sisters from 1955). Let's hope they see their way clear to conjure up another volume.