This week, the Sunday EP and Retro Friday overlap—so I’m posting them on Saturday. Thanks to PC for the kind words in the last post!
Say what you will, but I’ve been on a serious girl group kick the past few days. The following songs are primarily culled from two fantastic compilations—the single disc Girls! Girls! Girls! 25 All-Time Classics of the Girl Group Sound (Varese Vintage) and the box set One Kiss Can Lead to Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost and Found (Rhino). The first disc is a fantastic introduction for anyone just getting into this period, a broad perspective of the bands and their sounds, complete with a nice essay inside; the four-disc box set is one of the best box sets I’ve ever seen, complete with fantastic packaging and detailed liner notes.
Since I love this period so much, it was hard to whittle down my list to just a few songs—you’ll get a baker’s dozen instead.
Needle in a Haystack – The Velvettes
A great way to kick-off this set. The back-ground vocals, the handclaps, the horns, and bad-mouthing both boys and girls—yeah, this is a classic.
Nothing but a Heartache – The Flirtations
My mother always says that if a song has a good beat, she’ll like it. This song has one hell of a good beat that builds to an incredible crescendo down the stretch.
Give Him a Great Big Kiss – The Shangi-La’s
Bonus points to anyone who can name what seminal New York punk band pays tribute to the opening words of this song.
Bobby’s Girl – Marcie Blaine
She’s not a kid anymore, and she has but one goal—to be Bobby’s girl.
Soldier Boy – The Shirelles
A 1962 number one hit, the minor chords are unapologetically saccharine, but damned if it doesn’t work perfectly. By the time the soaring chorus comes back at the end of the song, it gives me chills.
One Fine Day – The Chiffons
This song was co-written by Carole King, who was part of the girl group sound before branching out. The off-key piano could probably never be replicated to its glory.
I’m Into Somethin’ Good – Earl-Jean
Another Carole King songwriting credit, Earl-Jean sang this song in 1964, taking it to number 38. However, not long after, Herman’s Hermits remade it and the song went to number one.
You’re No Good – Dee Dee Warwick
Here’s original, though most probably know Linda Ronstadt’s 1975 version. The Warwick single came out over a full decade earlier. The overlapping vocals sound amazing.
Love’s Gone Bad – Chris Clark
A blue-eyed, platinum blonde on the Motown label—kind of unusual. Considered the U.S. answer to Dusty Springfield.
Yes I’m Ready – Barbara Mason
Not much info on Mason, but I do know that if you have La Toya Jackson’s Japanese single of this song, you’d have something that’ unbelievable valuable and also painful to listen to.
Popsicles and Icicles – The Murmaids
In 1963 this song climbed to number three. David Gates, the future lead-singer of Bread, wrote the song. The perfect light pop song for a hot summer day.
Make the Night A Little Longer – Palisades
The sweeping strings, the weepy melody, the pleas to make the night just a little longer—you can’t imagine how anyone would want to make the short.
Be My Baby – The Ronettes
For me, no list of girl group songs would be complete without The Ronettes. One of producer Phil Spector’s many masterpieces—anytime I hear this song, I stop and listen. Unfortunately, last year, that including a pharmaceutical commercial for hard-on medication, which was unfortunate for all involved.