on 3 February 2003
Until recently the Shangri-las back catalogue had suffered from shoddy repackaging of their material, ill thought out compilations with tracks in terrible sound quality. That was until now, with this the second version of "MYRMIDONS OF MELODRAMA" which features hard to find songs and some great period photographs of the girls. All the tracks here have been improved upon since the first "MYRMIDONS.." CD, in fact you could almost be right there in the studio with them! Several tracks are also in clear crisp stereo. The Shangri-las are one of the greatest girl groups of all time and this album is worthy of their greatness.
That's how co-producer Jeff Barry describes the songs of the Shangri-Las and it's a good description. Certainly, their music was different from anything else around at the time and nobody else has been able to emulate them since.
Only two of their singles made the UK charts although one of them did so on three completely separate occasions. They did better in America, where they had eleven hits, three of which made the top ten. But unlike some of their contemporaries, their B-sides and album tracks are also fascinating with very few covers (although the impressive He cried is a cover of She cried by Jay and the Americans). George Morton, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich between them wrote many of their songs including all the famous hits.
Their most famous song, Leader of the pack, made it to number one in America. It stalled just outside the top ten in Britain, possibly hampered by the success of another motorcycle death song (Terry by Twinkle), which made the UK top five just before Leader of the pack was released in Britain. Re-released in 1972, the song made the UK top three. In 1976, it again made the UK top ten.
The only other Shangri-Las track to make the UK charts is Remember walking in the sand, which was a UK top twenty hit. It made the top five in America but the liner notes give a wonderful description of a seven-minute demo version featuring (maybe) a young Billy Joel on piano. Sadly, that demo version is not included on the compilation.
Of their other American hits, I can never go home anymore made the top ten, Give him a great big kiss made the top twenty, Give us your blessings made the top thirty and Long live our love made the top forty. Four minor hits (Maybe, Right now and not later, He cried, Past present and future) complete their American chart statistics, although they bubbled under with Sweet sounds of summer (not included here) after they switched record labels following the demise of Red Bird, the label on which all their classic recordings were released.
Notable B-sides include Paradise (written by Nilsson for the Ronettes), Train from Kansas City, Heaven only knows, Sophisticated boom boom and Dressed in black. Among their best album tracks are What's a girl supposed to do (also recorded by Lesley Gore), Never again and Sophisticated boom boom.
All those tracks and plenty of others can be found on this magnificent compilation, which even includes some commercials and public notices that you might think would be best avoided. Not so - even these are great performed by the Shangri-Las.
The Shangri-Las were truly unique and this is the best compilation of their music.
on 13 June 2008
Why these girls didn't have greater success in the UK is beyond me. They were the most unique of the 'girl groups' era. Not for them the frilly sparkly frocks, bouffant hairdos and sickly sweet love songs. These girls were the bad girls - very street wise. They weren't called 'myrmidons of melodrama' for nothing - someone said that no -one could break your heart like Mary Weiss! Just listen especially to 'I Can Never Go Home Anymore', a top five hit in the States. This CD is especially great as it contains the original stereo mixes of a number of their hits (unlike the earlier issued version of this album). These girls were before their time. A great album!
on 2 January 2015
Three tracks from the original Melodrama compilation are missing from here, both sides of their second US single, Wishing Well/Hate To Say I Love You So from the US Spokane label, plus their version of The Chantels' Maybe, while both lack their versions of Shout and Twist & Shout which were B sides. Maybe RPM were reluctant to include their covers which were inferior to the originals. Both issues lack the alternate take of Remember Walkin' In The Sand with a different intro and without the seagulls in the background which appeared on the B side of the 1972 reissue of Leader Of The Pack, and the long version of it here does not have the spoken intro. But i agree it is a great compilation nevertheless with many tracks in stereo for the first time. The missing tracks have been replaced with both sides of their debut US single Simon Says/Simon Speaks.
The best compilation of this group with many tracks in decent stereo, which IMHO is far superior to the muddy distorted mono versions. Have to admit it, I got it for "Sophisticated Boom Boom" as on the ads on TV, I never knew this track previously, so I used "sound hound" to ID it. If you want just one CD of this group, look no further !!!
on 17 June 2009
The Shangri Las were not big in the UK and I admit that I bought this album solely on the strength of Remember (Walking in the Sand) and Leader of the Pack. I did not know any other material and I was not really expecting anything great. How wrong I was! What a fantastically pleasant surprise this album turned out to be. Those girls were unique and very talented. Some of the harmonies, for example on I Can Never Go Home Any More, are amazing and some of Mary Weiss's lead vocals are stunning. The production on these songs also contributes to the unique sound. The album is packed full of classic tracks and in my view there are better songs than the famous two UK hits. If you only know Remember and Leader of the Pack you will be in for a real treat.