Darlene Love possesses one of the most distinctive and powerful voices in pop music. For years she was a backup singer for big stars like Elvis and Sam Cooke, but when she hooked up with Phil Spector she became star in her own right. Although she never was as big as the Ronettes or the Crystals, she recorded a whole boatload of classic songs. These 15 tracks are all produced by Phil Spector and feature his innovative Wall of Sound production style. Love began her time with Spector singing uncredited lead vocals on the Crystals' hit "He's a Rebel." That song and another Crystals song she sang, "He's Sure the Boy I Love," are classic girl group tracks. The lugubrious and glorious update of "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" (cut with Bobby Sheen as Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans) is a truly wonderful work of art. The other classic Bob B. Soxx tracks she recorded are here as well: "Why Do Lovers Break Each Other's Hearts" and "Not Too Young to Get Married." Along with the hits on this set, there are many tracks that are less-known but just as great: the slow and dramatic "My Heart Beat a Little Faster," the up-tempo heartbreaker "Run Run Runaway," and "Long Way to Be Happy," a brilliant track featuring one of Love's best vocals that was recorded in 1965 near the end of Spector's amazing run. Every track on this disc is worthy of a spot in the girl group hall of fame, if not the rock & roll hall of fame. The set also contains a couple of rarities -- the original version of "Chapel of Love" that Spector unwisely left on the shelf. Co-writers and frequent Spector collaborators Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich took the song to the Dixie Cups and they had a huge hit with it. Love's version is much slower and far more sultry than the Dixie Cups' teenybop version -- it most likely was too adult-sounding to be a hit. Even more exciting is the inclusion of 1975's "Lord, if You're a Woman." This powerful track was recorded during Spector's ill-fated mid-'70s comeback and should have been a hit. Love sounds strong as ever, cutting loose like she never would have ten years earlier, and Spector still had magic up his sleeve. Sadly, it was not to be and Love went back to backup work and the oldies circuit. She left behind an incredible body of work, however, and the best truly is here. If you like girl groups, good-time oldies, soul music, female vocals, dance music, or just good old pop music, you need to get this disc. There is a world of love and magic waiting for you. Now bring on volume two!
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra