Saturday, April 13, 2013

THE SHANGRI-LAS "Myrmidons of Melodrama" Definitive Collection

THE SHANGRI-LAS "Myrmidons of Melodrama" Definitive Collection: Until the release of this import, there had never been a truly satisfactory Shangri-Las anthology; in fact, the group had been subject to worse piecemeal mangling than almost any other significant act of the 1960s. This 33-track production finally sets the record straight, including all of the significant A-sides, B-sides, and album tracks they recorded for Red Bird between 1964 and 1966, as well as an earlier single for a different label, and four radio commercials. Includes every one of their hits, but anyone who likes those will be enchanted by quite a few of their more obscure numbers here: "Dressed in Black," "Paradise," "It's Easier to Cry," "Never Again," and "Heaven Knows" are all first-class (if sometimes mordant). Not everything is up to that level, but enough is to make a case for them as one of the very best girl groups, and the good sound and thorough liner notes are significant bonuses. It may be more extensive and expensive than some fans wish, but don't settle for the numerous skimpy/rip-off domestic compilations, all of which manage to leave off some key tunes; this is the definitive document. (Allmusic)Mini soap operas set to music. 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. (Amazon)trax:
01 Remember (Walkin' In The Sand) 02 It's Easier To Cry 03 Leader Of The Pack 04 What Is Love 05 Give Him A Great Big Kiss 06 Maybe 07 Out In The Streets 08 The Boy 09 Give Us Your Blessings 10 Heaven Only Knows 11 Right Now And Not Later 12 The Train From Kansas City 13 Never Again 14 I'm Blue 15 What's A Girl Supposed To Do 16 The Dum Dum Ditty 17 You Cheated, You Lied 18 I Can Never Go Home Anymore 19 Bull Dog 20 Long Live Our Love 21 Sophisticated Boom Boom 22 He Cried 23 Dressed In Black 24 Past, Present And Future 25 Paradise 26 Love You More Than Yesterday 27 Wishing Well 28 Hate To Say I Told You So 29 Give Him A Great Big Kiss (alt take) 30 Radio Spot #1 How Pretty Can You Get? 31 Radio Spot #2 Revlon Endorsement 32 Radio Spot #3 Good Taste Tip 33 Radio Spot #4 Dating Courtesy Tip
...served by Gyro1966...