The Shirelles

Swing the Most/Hear and Now

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When the two Shirelles LPs Swing the Most and Hear & Now appeared as budget-price releases on Scepter's Pricewise labels in 1964, the group had just passed their commercial peak and were on the serious downside saleswise. Not only that, owing to lawsuits between them and Scepter, the Shirelles weren't even recording for much of the year while the disputes were settled. So the LPs combined tracks that had appeared on recent and not-so-recent singles with previously unissued material in the vaults, some of which employed backing tracks also used on versions of the same tunes by other singers. Throw in the fact that they contained only one of their big hits (their last one, 1963's "Foolish Little Girl"), and you'd be forgiven for thinking that a two-fer CD combining both LPs onto one disc wouldn't exactly rank among the group's most essential product. It doesn't, but on the other hand, it's much better than it has any right to be, even if the best songs are available on most of the better Shirelles compilations. "Sha-La-La" (famously covered for a big hit by Manfred Mann), Van McCoy's "Maybe Tonight," "Tonight You're Gonna Fall in Love with Me," "Make the Night a Little Longer," "What a Sweet Thing That Was," "Don't Say Goodnight and Mean Goodbye," and "His Lips Get in the Way" are all first-class girl group tracks that are among the group's best non-hit songs. While the other songs aren't as good, even these are usually respectable, and often written by notable Brill Building writers like Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Cynthia Weil, Barry Mann, and Toni Wine. With good liner notes that give the budget-LP source material more respect than many writers would, it's one of the better compilations in the Ace series of two-fers reissuing original albums from the Shirelles catalog. In addition, it adds one track, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich's "That Boy Is Messing Up My Mind," that was listed on the original Swing the Most LP, but somehow not included, and not retrieved from the vaults for release until the CD era.