Various Artists

Very Best of Red Bird & Blue Cat Records

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Red Bird and Blue Cat were the brainchildren of songwriters Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller with help from old-time record-biz guy George Goldner. Formed at the cusp of the Beatles' arrival in the U.S., their success ratio was phenomenal, keeping the girl-group sound alive and actually extending it into the area of mop-top mania that had redefined pop music. Although this material has often been bootlegged over in Europe, this marks the first time it's been legitimately reissued and in real stereo. Although Alvin Robinson's "Down Home Girl" (later covered by the Rolling Stones) and Ellie Greenwich's minor pop masterpiece "You Don't Know" are conspicuously missing, this 15-track collection brings together all the notable tracks from the Dixie Cups, the Shangri-Las, the Jelly Beans, the Ad-Libs and marvelous one-offs from the Butterflys and the Trade Winds, making this a one-stop primer of the label's best and biggest. Sound is superb and liner notes from Colin Escott are equally wonderful.

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