Sweet on the Shangri Las? Then perhaps a double dose of the Pussycats is what you need . . . Hungry for the feminine side of soul? Surely the Opals and Sandi Sheldon will please. Whether you savor the sounds of vivacious teenage girls or prefer to hear a soulstress singing the blues, "Where The Girls Are, Volume 5: A Decade Of Columbia Femme Pop" most certainly has something for you.
For years, those aficionados Mick Patrick and Malcolm Baumgart have been serving up compilations that run the gamut of the girl group sound. What makes the "Where The Girls Are" series so irresistible is that they don't discriminate. Yes, my friends, here you will find girls of all shapes and sizes, colors and creeds, singing songs by some of the best writers and producers the sixties had to offer.
This new volume pays special attention to the 'Brill Building' songwriters, whose first class compositions are surely the cream of the compilation. Husband and wife songwriting teams Ellie Greenwich & Jeff Barry and Gerry Goffin & Carole King are represented by the Orchids' debut single "That Boy Is Messing Up My Mind" and "The Harlem Tango". The third of the Brill couples, Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil, give Hollywood legend Doris Day her girl group moment with "Let The Little Girl Limbo" - a "Blame It On The Bossa Nova" clone with orchestral arrangement by Jack Nitzsche and a cameo appearance by Darlene Love!
The brightest moment on this compilation comes from the Washington DC-based trio the Sweet Things whose "You?re My Lovin' Baby" is made of the stuff we girl group fans dream about. Written and produced by former Scepter Records staffer Van McCoy, this 1966 release is awash in warm melodies and a dazzling chorus that recalls the best of the Spector sound. It'll have you asking that all too common question, "How could this not have been a hit?!!" If the Sweet Things aren't enough to satisfy your craving for thundering Spector productions, then April Young's "Gonna Make Him My Baby" will do the job. Handclaps, xylophones, and plenty of "doo ron day ron day rons" humming in the background make this Pete Anders & Vinnie Poncia gem a stunning one indeed.
For more sprightly pop, look no further than Bernadette Peters, Jan Tanzy, the Surfer Girls, Becky & the Lollipops, and Patty Michaels, whose tracks scream "teenage!" And in the soul category we have the queen, Aretha Franklin, her sister Erma, the Little Foxes and the Opals, whose vocal delivery on Curtis Mayfield's "You Can't Hurt Me No More" is nothing short of superb. Northern Soul favorite Sandi Sheldon also makes an appearance with the gorgeous Van McCoy track "Baby You're Mine".
Fans of David Lynch's dark soap opera Twin Peaks will be thrilled to find Peggy Lipton (who played waitress, Norma Jennings on the show) included on the compilation. "Wasn't It You", an orchestral ballad previously recorded by Petula Clark, is taken from Peggy's eponymous album from 1968. I wasn't even aware that this former Mod Squad star had a singing career, let alone an album!
As if an assortment of 26 shimmering girl group rarities isn't enough, Mick and Malcolm further treat us to detailed mini-biographies of each of the featured artists. Add that to the oodles of rare photos (check out the very cute Patty Michaels and the Orchids singing with Bobby Darin) and you've got yourself a compilation that has clearly set the standard for girl group compilations to come. And isn't the cover to die for?