Rave! Reviews 1: CDs, Groups



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The Ad Libs and Friends
(Ad Libs, Butterflies, Dixie Cups, etc.)
Like "Jelly Beans and Friends," this CD from Collectables is a way to cobble together the few singles from a short-lived group and make a full CD out of it. But since the Ad Libs are so hard to find in CD form, you'd better get this while you can. Their big hit, "Boy from New York City," is, of course, included, but so is its original B-side, "Kicked Around." This amazing vocal feat by Mary Ann Thomas is almost a cappella. Enjoy the folksy "Down Home Girl," and a song you probably didn't know the Ad Libs recorded, "The Slime." Eight of the songs are by "the Friends," but the 10 Ad Libs songs alone are worth the price. Available at: The Ad Libs and Friends

My Boyfriend's Back
(The Angels)
You're gonna take a "permanent vacation" if you don't get this CD! Of course they sing their bitchy, quasi-psychotic "My Boyfriend's Back," but these mavens of the pointy-bra look also coast through such savvy songs as, "Cry Baby Cry," Thank You and Goodnight, and the curiously-titled Blow Joe. They even pour their dulcet tones into a sweet version of Sentimental Journey. This is a journey not to be missed! Available at: The Angels

One Fine Day
The Chiffons
This CD has their hits, "Sweet Talking Guy," others, and of course, "One Fine Day." It includes covers of other girl-group hits, "The Locomotion," "It's My Party," and "My Boyfriend's Back." It's a fun romp through the unforgettable innocence of the early 1960s. Available at: One Fine Day

The Complete Cookies
The Cookies
The Cookies are truly one of the unheralded girl groups. Sure, they had "Chains" and "Don't Say Nothin' Bad About My Baby." But until you get this CD, you haven't heard some of their lesser-known gems. "Only to Other People" and Earl-Jean's alto-dipping "They're Jealous Of Me" are rare, beautiful girl-group songs. The most overlooked release, "I Never Dreamed" is here. This rarity is their best-ever song: dramatic, yearning, conclusive. Available at: The Complete Cookies

The Best of the Crystals
The Crystals
Interestingly, the cover of this CD says, "Featuring the voices of LaLa Brooks, Barbara Alston and Darlene Love." That's because the Crystals are the Blossoms are Whoever. Phil Spector was notorious for his usage of other singers to serve as the Crystals, though the true Crystals sang a hit or two as well. The classics are here: "Da Doo Ron Ron," "He's a Rebel," "Uptown," the controversial, "Please Hurt Me," and 15 others are included. Available at: The Best of the Crystals
The Essex
(The Essex)
Their big hit, "Easier Said Than Done," is here, plus 23 other great songs, including "Why Do Fools Fall in Love." Their rendition of "Conga Laya" is bouncy enough to be a contemporary hit. Anita Humes' strong voice backed with boy-bass doo-wop never sounded better. Unlike many mixed-gender bands with the girl-group sounds, these background guys didn't just add the occasional "sh-bop," they actually sang along. Available at: The Essex

Honeys Collection
The Honeys
This lesser-known girl group was not sticky-sweet, though they were the Honeys. Instead, they were surfin' hussies, belting out the sassy "He's a Doll" the interesting "Growing Up is Hard to Do" and the true "Girls are Vicious." One wonders why this Brian Wilson-fueled group recorded songs like, "(Oly Oxen Free Free Free) Hide Go Seek" and "Surfin' Down the Swanee River," but you have to admit, this bunch of beach girls are different when it comes to the girl-group sound. Available at: Honeys Collection

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Over the Rainbow
(Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles)
While never the chart-topping superstars in the 1960s, as the group called LaBelle they had a smash hit with "Lady Marmalade." But it's nice to hear their beginnings with the girl-group sound. Granted, they are more like Dionne Warwick, singing Broadway standards and New Yorkish songs, but a little of their 1960s soul shines through here. It includes the hit, "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman." Available at: Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles
The Best of the Marvelettes
(The Marvelettes)
They didn't call 'em "Marvelettes" for nothin'. These girls are marvelous. Irresistible tunes like "Please Mr. Postman," "Beechwood 4-5789," "Don't Mess with Bill," (written by Smokey Robinson) and "Danger Heartbreak Dead Ahead" are included in this collection of 11 songs. Their classic, "Too Many Fish in the Sea" is the epitome of up-tempo girl-group songs. Available at: The Very Best of the Marvelettes
The Ultimate Collection
Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
A bountiful dish of 25 boppin' hits, including, "(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave," "Dancing In The Street," "Quicksand," and "Nowhere to Run." This strong-voiced girl group will keep you rockin'. Special bonus, their rendition of "Jimmy Mack," is delicious, and who can resist a song titled, "Third Finger, Left Hand"? Available at: The Ultimate Collection: Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
The Raindrops
(The Raindrops)
Two key figures of the girl-group era, songwriters/ producers Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry, joined with studio singers as this group. Their hits, "What a Guy" and "The Kind of Boy You Can't Forget" chime on with a classic pop beat. The 20 total tracks include great covers of "Hanky Panky" and "Da Doo Ron Ron," as well as many cool girl-group songs you've never heard! Two lesser-known, but fantastic, songs are "One More Tear" and "Let's Go Together." Available at: The Raindrops

The Best of the Ronettes
The Ronettes
Some considered them the sexiest girl-group of all, with the heavy mascared eyes, slinky outfits, and hip-shaking routine. Ronnie's breathy vocals helped, too. It's all here, in glorious Spectorcolor. "Be My Baby," "Walking in the Rain," ""Why Don't They Let Us Fall in Love," and 15 other fab songs by this unforgettable girl-group are included. Available at: The Best of the Ronettes

Our Day Will Come: The Very Best of Ruby & the Romantics

Ruby & the Romantics
Originally a male group that went nowhere till they added a female lead singer, Ruby & the Romantics had a smash hit with the soft and hopeful "Our Day Will Come." Listen to their other recordings here: "When You're Young and in Love," "Moonglow," "Not a Moment Too Soon" and others. You'll love their versions of "Chances Are" and "End of the World." This is a generous two-disc set. Available at: Our Day Will Come: The Very Best of Ruby & the Romantics
The Best of the Shangri-las
With a group this well-known, you might as well just list the songs (a whopping 25 tracks are on this CD): "Leader of the Pack," "Remember (Walkin' in the Sand)," "Give Him a Great Big Kiss," "Out in the Streets," and the goth-predicter, "Dressed in Black," along with every other hit they ever made. Resistance is future: do not miss this ultimate bad-girl girl-group and their street-wise, ball-busting hits. Available at: The Best of the Shangri-las
25 All-Time Greatest Hits
The Shirelles
A horn o' plenty of sweet-sounding early 1960s tunes, including their classics, "Soldier Boy" and "Dedicated to the One I Love." But you'll also delight in their jumpy "Mama Said" and plaintive "Foolish Little Girl." Available at: 25 All-Time Greatest Hits: Shirelles

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Supremes No. 1s
The Supremes
What need be said? This is the quintessential collection of the peak of the girl-group sound. "Baby Love," "Where Did Our Love Go?" "You Keep Me Hanging On," and their many, many number one hits are all included here. A must-have for your library. Available at: Supremes No. 1s


Tears Come Tumblin': it's the Teardrops
The Best of the Teardrops

The Teardrops
Songwriter Paul Trefzger mastered this talented group, all of whose members could sing lead. Some of the alto sequences. minor-key sequences and blended harmonies in these songs equal the perfect-pitch tones of the late Karen Carpenter. They performed fast and slow songs equally well.

Of course, "Tears Come Tumbling," their biggest hit, is included here, with all its sweet vocals. The CD cover could say that if Linda Schroeder's lead doesn't give you delightful chills, your get your money back. Two versions of the previously-unreleased "Here Comes Loneliness" appear, and both are delightful. The fun and spunky "Bubblegummer" shines, as does the fast, man-hungry, doo-woppy "I'm Gonna Steal Your Boyfriend."

My biggest surprise was finding, "You Won't Be There," a melody infused with minor keys that sounds akin to the Four Seasons' "Bermuda." Like many girl-group tunes, these catchy songs are so classically constructed that they'll pleasantly burn themselves into your memory. But what's different is the great variety of the Teardrops' sound and their incredible musical diversity.

To order The Best of the Teardrops, $16.50 (which includes shipping) please e-mail your request to: Saxony Records, or call for more information: 1-415-861-5730.
Sing "A Lover's Concerto" and "Attack!"
The Toys
Their sweet hit, "Lover's Concerto" does not jibe with their clunky single, "Attack!" but they were a force to be reckoned with. While most girl-group generalists only want their main hit, collectors will want to hear this host of other songs they recorded: "I Got a Man," "Baby's Gone," "This Night," "Deserted," and more. Available at: The Toys Sing "A Lover's Concerto" and "Attack!"
The Very Best of the Velvelettes
(The Velvelettes)
The only tragedy of the girl-group era is that these gals didn't get as famous as the Supremes. This CD includes their biggest hit, "Needle in a Haystack," as well as jumpy rockin' tunes like "He Was Really Sayin' Something" and "A Bird in the Hand." Among the 15 total tracks are four previously-unreleased songs. All, though, are gems. Available at: Very Best of the Velvelettes




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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