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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.