Various Artists

Early Girls, Vol. 5

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The fifth volume of this long-running series of girl group-styled music offers 28 singles from the early to mid-'60s, all of which managed to make the national Billboard chart. That doesn't mean, however, that you'll remember all of them, even if you were listening to the radio at the time, as the majority of these songs failed to crack the Top 40, some of them only managing to reach the section for those 45s "bubbling under" the Top 100. Partly for that reason, this isn't nearly as memorable as girl group comps that focus on the big hits, though there are a few Top Ten smashes here, like Diane Renay's "Navy Blue," Patty Duke's Lesley Gore-styled "Don't Just Stand There," Doris Troy's classic "Just One Look," and Sarah Vaughan's "Broken Hearted Melody" (which isn't exactly a girl group tune, but welcome as it's considerably superior to most of the rest of the set). There are a few good obscurities here: the Cinderellas' "Baby, Baby (I Still Love You)" (co-written by Cynthia Weil) is, in fact, one of the finest little-known Brill Building girl group gems, while the Rag Dolls' "Dusty" is a pretty good Four Seasons knockoff. The Royalettes' "Blue Summer" is gossamer soul-pop; the Shepherd Sisters' "Don't Mention My Name" also takes its cues from Four Seasons-styled production; the Paris Sisters' "Be My Boy" is a studied attempt by producer Phil Spector to replicate the sound of the Teddy Bears' "To Know Him Is to Love Him"; and the Chiffons' cover of the Shirelles' "Tonight's the Night," weirdly, seems upon research not to be the Chiffons of "He's So Fine" fame, but an entirely different group. It seems like much of the rest didn't catch on in a big way for a good reason, however; the songs just aren't strong enough, sometimes reflecting the more vacuous face of early-'60s pop/rock pandering to the most blandly innocuous segment of the teen audience. That makes it an uneven listen even for girl group collectors, but they'll appreciate the thorough liner notes, which draw connections from a lot of these relics to some surprisingly well-known musicians, songwriters, and producers.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 02:06
2 02:37
3 02:37 Amazon
4 03:00
5 02:49
6 02:30
7 02:47
8 02:13
9 02:30
10 02:24
11 02:42
12 02:41
13 02:39
14 02:30
15 02:27
16 02:19
17 01:55
18 02:26
19 01:52
20 02:27
21 02:49
22 02:30
23 02:44
24 02:42
25 02:30
26 03:03
27 01:47
28 02:36
blue highlight denotes track pick