June 09, 2009

Album Review

The Shirelles' fifth and sixth albums are combined onto one CD with this 2009 reissue, with the addition of historical liner notes. In keeping with the rest of Ace's extensive series of Shirelles two-fers, it's the kind of thing where the best tracks have long been cherrypicked for numerous Shirelles compilations, which are by far the best way for most fans to hear the group. As 1963 LPs went, however, they weren't bad, even if certain tracks stuck out as by far the best of the lot. On the first of these records to be issued that year, Foolish Little Girl, the undisputed highlight, is the great and fetching title track, their last big hit. The rest of the LP contained an erratic mix of quick-paced, R&B-inclined tunes and generally more satisfying slower pop/rockers, highlighted by the young Van McCoy's "Abra Ka Dabra" and the very good midtempo number "Don't Say Goodnight and Mean Goodbye," a Top 30 hit that was reminiscent (as the liner notes rightly point out) of their prior single "A Thing of the Past." Some pretty notable talents were in the songwriting credits, including McCoy (who also wrote the effervescent "I Don't Think So"), Sam Cooke (co-author of "Only Time Will Tell"), and Four Seasons hit songwriting team Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe ("Talk Is Cheap"), but it still added up to only an average LP overall.
In retrospect, the Shirelles might have been starting to flounder a little stylistically with the subsequent It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, starting with the showbizzy title track (intended but not used as the theme for the hit movie of the same name), which nonetheless has some goofy charm. Despite contributions from notable songwriters Mack David and Ed Townsend, the other tracks are largely just fair late girl group-styled tunes, sometimes getting into a dated generic dance-party-themed bag. The version of "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Da" isn't an impressive addition to their résumé, either, considering it closely follows the Phil Spector-produced hit arrangement of that standard by Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans. "Around the World" is an ill-fitting detour into bossa nova. It's an indictment of the LP's slightly substandard quality that the best track by far, "Boys" (famously covered by the Beatles), had been issued as a single back in 1960, and already included on their debut LP that same year.
Richie Unterberger, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Foolish Little Girl
  2. Hard Times
  3. Abra Ka Dabra
  4. What's the Matter Baby
  5. I Didn't Mean to Hurt You
  6. Ooh Poo Pah Doo
  7. Don't Say Goodnight and Mean Goodbye
  8. Not for All the Money in the World
  9. Only Time Will Tell
  10. I Don't Think So
  11. Talk Is Cheap
  12. The Twitch
  13. It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
  14. The Music Goes Round and Round
  15. Jive Is the Thing
  16. Love on the Moon
  17. You Satisfy My Soul
  18. 20th Century Rock 'N' Roll
  19. Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Da
  20. Everybody's Going Mad
  21. Boys
  22. Around the World
  23. 31 Flavors