Starting in the 1990s, a cluster of CD reissues have served to remind us that Chess was not just a blues label, in fact recording a great deal of worthwhile (and often successful) soul in the 1960s. Where the Girls Are, Vol. 3 is not the best of these, but it puts an interesting spin on the concept by focusing exclusively on women pop-soul-girl-group singers who recorded for Chess during the decade. There are a few name artists here -- Etta James, Sugar Pie de Santo, Tammy Montgomery (soon to be renamed Tammi Terrell), and (to a lesser degree) Jackie Ross, Mitty Collier, Jan Bradley, and a teenaged Minnie Riperton (as part of the Gems and under the pseudonym Andrea Davis) -- though most of these are only known to those fanatical, often British, soul collectors. The same comments that you could direct toward Chess' '60s soul in general apply to this anthology in particular: while well produced, it sometimes came off as derivative of both Motown and other Chicago soul competitors, without as much standout material as the best competition. That makes this 26-song CD second-division, but certainly not second-rate. For one thing, there is a certain consistency of sound that makes it more listenable than many other similar archive CDs are. There are also some pretty good songs amidst the so-so ones. Geraldine Hunt's 1962 single "I Let Myself Go" is an incredibly blatant yet enjoyable and accurate Mary Wells imitation; Timiko's "Is It a Sin?," which is just marginally less Wells-like, has some fetching hooks; while the Clickettes' "I Just Can't Help It" is cool and catchy soul-tinged girl-group pop. Everything else wilts, however, besides Etta James' compelling "Pushover," an actual 1963 Top 30 hit that was one of her poppiest, yet gutsiest, and best singles.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger