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Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Girl Groups (Part One)

I was about 11 or 12 years old when it suddenly seemed the radio was chockful of girl groups. And I ain't talking about the Andrews Sisters. (Not that there's anything....)

Nosir. These gals sang toe-tapping, finger-snapping, dare-they-show-it-on-tv, hip-shaking songs. They sang with gusto, in sweet harmony. They sang soulfully. They rocked.

I loved them all.

To this Canadian boy, the girl groups were exotic, beautiful and sexy. They brought sass and a new dimension of sensuality to the early days of rock n' roll. They sang sweetly of true love. But by shaking their bootays while doing so, there was no mistaking their true love for the hand-holding of Frankie and Annette.

One can't discuss the girl groups without mentioning Phil Spector. Spector produced many of them and was primarily responsible for their room-filling, booming sound (dubbed Spector's Wall of Sound). The man, by all accounts, is batshit crazy, a possible/probable murderer and a complete putz.

But he was a musical genius, responsible for some absolutely stunning, unforgettable songs.

Let's open with the one that woke my virgin ears to the wonders of the girl groups. Here, reminding us that you can pack a lot of great song into two minutes: The Crystals with Da Do Ron Ron.

(As always folks, please turn up your speakers and do up your seatbelts. And if you're anywhere near my age, I think you'll get some nostalgiac enjoyment out of seeing the hairstyles and clothing that were popular back then.)

Martha & The Vandellas brought an element of R&B into their tunes. Here's another great old clip (praise YouTube) of their much-covered hit, Dancing In The Streets featuring the crystal-clear, powerful pipes of the great Martha Reeves. Yeah, they're lip-syncing. I don't care. It's still great.

I confessed above that I loved all of the girl groups. And that's true. But I loved one of them more than the others. And that would be The Ronettes.

And I loved the Ronettes mostly because of Darlene Love, who fronted the band. (I first gushed about her last Christmas.)

Ms Love is a wonder and I hope she keeps belting them out for at least a couple more decades. In the following clip (introduced by Chuck Berry) you'll see and hear a young Darlene Love, bursting with talent. And this one ain't lip-synched!

I hope you enjoyed.

Thanks to doowop50s, drakep and DestinationDooWop for posting the videos.


  1. I think I'd like to have a jukebox.. oh wait.. I have an iPod. :)

    It sounds like you've got a few more groups up your sleeve. Supremes? Chiffons? Shirelles? Dixie Cups? I'll just have to wait and see who's next.

  2. Mid South Coliseum, 8/9/66, $5.50 ticket: Saw the Ronettes (plus The Remains, the Cyrkle & Bobby Hebb) open for the Beatles. For the first 3 acts, you could actually hear the music over the screaming. About 15 years later, I almost got thrown out of Hollywood's notorious Starwood club for drunkenly complaining about how long Darlene's nerves were keeping her from starting her comeback performance. Me and Darlene, we go way back.

  3. Space Cadet SehnertJune 12, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    If I told the same story the last time Darlene came up, it just proves I was definitely and enthusiastically there for the era in question.

  4. In the interest of accuracy, I have to point out that Veronica 'Ronnie' Bennett was the lead singer with the Ronettes, not Darlene Love.

    Darlene Love's band back then was called The Blossoms. They never got the recognition they deserved. I think they were the equal of any of the girl groups of that era. Here they are, from 1965....

  5. Hil, there's a whack of them. Probably gonna be a 3-parter. (Not consecutively, though.)

    Cay, there was no doubt in my mind. :)

    Charlie, thanks much for the correction. Apparently, I've been confuzzled by those two since about forever. I even thought Darlene was married to Phil for a while. There was a lot of weird goings-on in those days. Apparently Darlene fronted the Crystals for a couple of songs but Phil erased her from the first discs. Darlene DID in fact record Be My Baby after Ronnie did. Which only added to my confusion.

    I'll either edit the post or do a "mea culpa" prefacing my next one on the girl groups. Thanks again, buddy. :)

  6. Definitely weird stuff going on back then. Phil Spector produced most of the girl groups, including The Ronettes and The Blossoms. He married Ronnie Bennett, but who knows what was going on that the public never heard about. I just finished Keith Richard's autobiography where he talks about tomcatting with Ronnie while she was with Spector. Not a guy you want to catch you foolin' around with his girl. Then again, Keef never was one to take the safe route with anything. :)

  7. the Supremes are my all time favorite girls group
    although my list is long

    I adore Darlene Love, she is a force of nature

  8. Yeah Charlie. Sex, Drugs & Rock n' Roll was a lifestyle for many. (And deathstyle for some.)

    Dianne, the Supremes are up there on mine too. I've found a couple of very cool clips of them that I'll feature soonish.

    As always, thanks for the time folks. :)


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