Diane Renay

The Very Best of Diane Renay

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There might not be armies of fans clamoring for Diane Renay reissues, but as there are some, it's a shame that they have to resort to most-likely-unauthorized reissues to be able to hear her records at all. Of the (at least three) such reissues that have floated around, this 21-track compilation of mid-'60s material -- most of it co-written by producer Bob Crewe -- is the best, though it's marred by imperfect packaging. On the plus side, it does have her big hit "Navy Blue," her much smaller follow-up hit "Kiss Me Sailor," and a bunch of other usually-more-or-less enjoyable tracks in the whitest and most lightweight shade of the girl group style. There's also her uncharacteristically tough"Watch Out Sally!," which is not only her best record ("Navy Blue" included) but one of the finest overlooked girl group singles by anyone. The last five cuts in particular don't seem to have made it on to any other Renay repackagings, and a couple of them (the Four Seasons-styled "A Time a Dozen" and the blue-eyed soul cover of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's "Can't Help Loving That Man") rank among her better recordings. So what's to complain about? Well, in common with all other reissues on the mysterious Marginal Records label, there's absolutely nothing in the way of liner notes or original release information except for songwriting credits. Even more disappointingly, the sound (most likely transferred from vinyl and not the source tapes) is often dull, more so even than many other Marginal releases, "Watch Out Sally!" suffering particularly in that regard.