Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Shirelles: “Happy And In Love/Shirelles” (2014) CD Review

The Shirelles formed in the late 1950s and are known for such hits as “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “Mama Said,” “Baby It’s You” and “Dedicated To The One I Love,” the last of which was revisited on Happy And In Love, one of the two albums included on the new CD put out by Real Gone Music. This CD includes two complete albums originally released on RCA in the early 1970s, as well as a few bonus tracks. Neither of these albums has been available on CD until now.

Happy And In Love opens with a good, funky cover of The Guess Who’s “No Sugar Tonight,” with an added moment of the girls singing, “So sweet, so sweet” over the beat, which is a nice touch.

That’s followed by “Boy You’re Too Young,” written by Kenneth Gamble, Archie Bell and Thom Bell. It’s an easy-going tune, with strings and a good groove, and is about an older woman interested in a young man – young enough that it’s still up to his parents to allow or disallow the relationship. “You’re just a little school boy/Growing up mighty fast/Let’s not get started/’Cause how long do you think this love will last.”

“Take Me” is a groovy tune boasting a powerful, energetic vocal performance. This is a song that was released earlier as a single on United Artists.

“Dedicated To The One I Love”

The Shirelles revisit “Dedicated To The One I Love,” a song they’d released as a single in 1959. This 1971 rendition is quite a bit different, sounding delicate at the beginning. They found a new spin to put on it, while keeping the song’s main elements in place, and turning in excellent vocal performances. I like this version, but it’s certainly no replacement for the earlier one.

“We Got A Lot Of Lovin’ To Do” is a sweet, fun, catchy tune with a positive vibe. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “And everybody tells me that it’s always raining/Well, I don’t mind the rain, but it’s plain to see that/We’ve got a lot of lovin’ to do.” I am really fond of this track. For me, it’s one of this collection’s highlights.

“Strange, I Still Love You,” the final track on Happy And In Love, was released as the flip side to the single of “No Sugar Tonight.” It features another powerful vocal performance. “Through the pain you’ve given me, I remember the pleasure/I guess I’ll never be free.”

The second album, Shirelles, opens with a cover of Carole King’s “Brother, Brother.” This track was also released as a single in 1972. It’s followed by the flip side to that single, “Sunday Dreaming,” a somewhat funky tune.

“Ain’t No Sunshine”

“Ain’t No Sunshine” is a song I absolutely love, and The Shirelles do an excellent rendition of it. They stretch out the “I know, I know” part longer than usual, making it an entire section with a build, before settling back into the song’s main groove. These girls do some interesting stuff with this song, and I wish the track were longer. Written by Bill Withers, “Ain’t No Sunshine” is a song that’s been covered by such artists as Freddie King, Joe Cocker and Michael Jackson.

They also cover the Bee Gees’ “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” and Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” And they do a really good rendition of Carole King’s “Walk On In,” one of my favorite tracks from the second album. Another strong track is their cover of “Drowning In The Sea Of Love,” written by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff.

The second album ends with a Marvin Gaye medley of “Mercy Mercy Me,” “What’s Going On” and “Inner City Blues.” This is another highlight. I particularly like what they do with “Inner City Blues.

Bonus Tracks

This CD includes three bonus tracks, originally released on singles in 1973, including “Let's Give Each Other Love” and “Do What You've A Mind To.” “Touch The Wind (Eres Tu),” the best of the three tracks, was actually the flip side to “Do What You've A Mind To.” It’s a beautiful, powerful song written by Juan Carlos Calderon, and this rendition has some surprising country elements.

CD Track List

  1. No Sugar Tonight
  2. Boy You’re Too Young
  3. Go Away And Find Yourself
  4. There’s Nothing In This World
  5. Medley: Gotta Hold On To This Feeling/I’ve Never Found A Boy
  6. Take Me
  7. Dedicated To The One I Love
  8. It’s Gonna Take  A Miracle
  9. We Got A Lot Of Lovin’ To Do
  10. Strange, I Still Love You
  11. Brother, Brother
  12. Sunday Dreaming
  13. Ain’t No Sunshine
  14. It’s Going To Take Some Time
  15. How Can You Mend A Broken Heart
  16. Let’s Stay Together
  17. Walk On In
  18. Deep In The Night
  19. Drowning In The Sea Of Love
  20. Hung On Yourself
  21. Medley: Mercy Mercy Me/Inner City Blues/What’s Going On
  22. Let’s Give Each Other Love
  23. Do What You’ve A Mind To
  24. Touch The Wind (Eres Tu)

Happy And In Love/Shirelles was released on July 29, 2014 through Real Gone Music.

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