Various Artists

The Best of the Girl Groups [Rhino]

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This Rhino collection makes for the perfect introduction to the '60s heyday of Brill Building-issue girl groups. In fact, many of the 18 cuts here were cut for BB associates Lieber & Stoller's Red Bird label and come from the pens of such Brill mainstays as Carole King, Gerry Goffin, Jeff Barry, and Ellie Greenwich: while Barry/Greenwich can be credited with such landmarks of the genre as the Shangri-Las' "Leader of the Pack" and the Dixie Cups' "He's So Fine," Goffin/King share the same rarefied songwriting air for gems like the Shirelles' "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" and the Chiffons' "He's So Fine" (actually a King solo composition). There's even a stellar example of the work of Brill kings Bacharach & David: the Shirelles' "Baby It's You." Beyond the hits and the prestige, though, the disc also packs in more obscure highlights by the likes of the Exciters, Claudine Clark, Evie Sands, Skeeter Davis, and Cher (an early, Spector-esque cut produced by Sonny Bono); and don't not forget the work of Red Bird producer George "Shadow" Morton, who oversaw many of these sessions. A last taste of innocence before the youth "tuned in" during the Summer of Love.

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