I just picked up at the Princeton Record Shop ( for those
of you have not been can spend loads of time and money, you name it, it is probably there), the complete, newly released, 2-disc set of the Shangri-Las. The set included an extensive booklet on their history. The CDs contained all their released material. I purchased it as a lark, something I wouldn't pick up normally. But boy, was I totally surprised, it brought back listening to AM radio in the early, mid-60s when Girl Group Rock/Pop was Queen of the radio, eclipsed I guess by the British Invasion. After comparing them to the Phil Spector "Wall of Sound" stuff, man, there is no comparison, Shangri-Las rock!! I think the Ronettes and Crystals had better voices but there was something smouldering in that voice of Mary Weiss, with that "bad" attitude Queens/NYC accent. Those spoken as well as sung lyrics were mini- melodramas that were done with passion and swagger that I don't think any of the other girl groups did. They opened for James Brown once. When he saw them, he was totally surprised. He thought they were a black girl group like the Ronettes. The girls in the group where very young. Mary was only 15 and the rest where only 16 in 1964. By 1966, rock changed of course and their time came and went, but I think everyone has heard "The Leader of the Pack" at least once in their lifetime, and say, hey I know that song..... Personally, I think they should be in the Rock Hall of Fame, but that is just my humble opinion. Heck if the Beatles can make it why not them.....;-)))

OK, when I saw them on Shindig, I did have a crush on Mary......

I assume fans of the Early 60s Girl Group Rock on this forum is probably pretty lean, but I thought I would at least let the youngsters on this site know that rock did not begin with Aerosmith....;-)))
The evolution of vocal music (doo wop) into rock is IMHO one of the most critical (and interesting) developments in the evolution of rock 'n' roll. The Beatles made it pretty clear that they viewed Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys as a kind of "guru" in re-intrepreting Chuck Berry'stripped down formula into the template that they would work within (and bust thru) in crafting their own catalog. Wilson was probably the best example of an artist who merged doo-wop style vocals into rock. There were, however, many others.

In the Southeast, Allen Toussaint was doing something quite similar, only without the lunatic production vision that Brian Wilson possessed. The results were compelling in their own way - check out The Showmen ("It Will Stand") for a great example.

Steve Cropper is about to release a record (due this August) of music by The 5 Royales. In a recent interview that I saw with Cropper, he explained that Lowman Pauling was a key influence for him - and, by extension, the entire operation at Stax/Volt.

As you've probably guessed, this subject is of some interest to me. If you're reasonably broad minded and love rock 'n'roll, you might just find that an exploration of the whole doo-wop/girl group genre could prove quite rewarding.

BTW....Billy Joel, a very young Billy Joel, was playing piano for a few of the studio productions, Remember(Walking in the Sand) and Leader of the Pack. Apparently Betty Weiss used to flirt with Billy. He was a just a kid while Betty was just a street smart, hanging on the corner, kind of girl from Queens. Mary Weiss still records and still does concerts. The Ganser twins are unfortunately dead. The Shangri-Las could rock and roll. There are a few live songs on the double CD. Their versions of Shout and Twist and Shout ( Isley Brothers) were wailing versions with a very good tight back up band. "Good beat and you could dance to it" as they use to say on American Bandstand ( my next door neighbor, she would go often with her friends to AM when it was still in Philly)

I am not sure what Brian Wilson was trying to do, after "I Get Around", I lost interest in the Beach Boys/Jan and Dean after that; I heard J&D did some of the back up for the Beach Boys and the Beach Boys for Jan and Dean, and of course Brian wrote most of Jan and Dean's material anyway.

As far as the Beatles are concerned, read my 2000/2001 posts on the Beatles. Hated them. Still hate them. Could not sing very well, could not play their instruments very well, and their songwriting was good enough to fool people into thinking they were great song writers. Boring pop
music. Everyone says they were innovative like using the sitar, Brian Jones and Jeff Beck where doing it months before them. Somewhere I have a sitar recorded version of the Yardbirds "Heartful of Soul". I wanted Teenage Angst Music....I wanted the Animals, the Kinks, the Yardbirds, and of the course the Rolling Stones. I wanted immediate gratification, I wanted immediate identification, I wanted the Sonics playing a frantic version of Louie, Louie! I wanted my parents to hate it, if they hated it that meant I would immediately like it. My Mom, "why don't you like the Beatles, like Yvonne next door. They are so cute in their outfits" "Why do you have to like those ugly, dirty looking groups like the Rolling Stones. They look like they are from NorthEast Philly." ;-)))

If you wanted music as art as an aesthetic experience, then you could listen to something like Schubert or Beethoven. There are more interesting things happening (aesthetically speaking and musically speaking) in 2 minutes of the Adagio in Schubert's 15th String Quartet then in all of the Beatles music. And Paul writing "classical" music, what a joke; 3rd rate Brahms at best. If I wanted Brahms music I'd listen to Brahms!!! Not a hack. Heck he isn't even writing 20th century classical like music. I cannot imagine him thinking in terms of a Webern, who was a genius, or Schnittke or Part, and the newest of the new composers, Auerbach. I have some of her piano works, heavenly stuff.

Oh did I mention Machaut, 14th century doo-wop composer???

Hey, don't get me wrong, doo-wop music is fun music to listen to, just like the Shangri-Las are fun music or the Rolling Stones. I just take pop, rock, rock and roll, metal (death or black or otherwise), hip-hop, rap, soul, blues, c&w, bluegrass,jazz and other cultural musical artifacts as they were meant to be: entertainment. To entertain oneself and if good enough entertain others. And for a good enough musician, a way to make some money and have a little fame. It is when an entertainer thinks he is making music as art as an aesthetic experience that they run into trouble. When it should be the other way around music as art as an aesthetic experience that excites the imaginative mind. My two greatest concerts: Muddy Waters in 1970 at the MainPoint on the MainLine in Philly.( Muddy's slide guitar was sublime that night, it was a crying shame that Little Walter was lone gone dead, along with his harmonica playing) And Gideon Kremer performing Schnittke's 2nd Violin Sonata.( perhaps one of the most dissonant violin sonatas around, when the accompanying pianist, after a rash of harsh dissonance by Gideon comes in on C major the V chord loudly, it sounds so out of place, you say wow, where did that come from, pianist smiling while playing the chord!) One was a soaring entertaining high and the other was a soaring aesthetic high. Which do you thing was which??
I may agree to disagree with your opinion of the Beatles. Like they say opinions are like, you get my drift. As for the Shangri-Las i always liked them. Enjoy the music,
>>07-17-11: Shubertmaniac
As far as the Beatles are concerned, read my 2000/2001 posts on the Beatles. Hated them. Still hate them. Could not sing very well, could not play their instruments very well, and their songwriting was good enough to fool people into thinking they were great song writers. Boring pop<<

Clearly one of the dumbest and misinformed posts you'll read here folks.

Everybody has a right to be stupid but this guy abuses the privelege.