“Leader Of The Pack” by The Shangri-Las - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1965Album Chart of the Decade: 1960s

TJR says

In 1964, four every-girl school pals, with an exceptional talent for singing together, shot to fame overnight with a string of great girl-group singles, most notably the monster hit “Leader of the Pack” which rose all the way to the very top of the Billboard 100 in November. In the close-knit community of Queens, it wasn't so difficult for the stars to align and a certain young wannabe producer, George Morton, was the man who made it happen. In ’64, he himself was transformed overnight from credential-less to visionary. With his “prized possession” of the Shangri-Las, Morton signed as a staff producer for Red Bird Records and the group were tied to a 5 year contract. At the time of this first LP in February 1965, Mary Weiss (16) fronted the group and big sister Betty (18), a home body who often sat out tours and rarely appeared on TV, sang backing vocals. Twin sisters Marge and Mary Ann Ganser (17) completed the young line up. On the surface, their story was a dream come true – but sadly they were ripped off, and seen very little financial reward for their brilliant endeavours on record, not to mention their “brand” being used to endorse and promote all sorts of teenage product.

The debut LP was presented complete with “image adjustment” – they were to be cast as street-wise tough-gals – the liner notes on the reverse of the LP were mounted on the back of a biker’s jacket – you get the picture? Yes, we see. The album features all 8 sides of their first 4 singles on Red Bird, all of which were issued in 4 hectic months from July to December ’64. In December, Gold Discs were awarded to the girls for “Remember (Walking In The Sand)” and “Leader of the Pack”, the major highlight of the LP. The maverick Morton had a surprise in store for the girls when they had turned up to record the latter in July; they were met in the studio by a real life, tanked up motorcycle. Vroom vroom! For all his inventive technique, the producer must take the blame for unwittingly sabotaging this work by drowning side 2 in a sea of fake audience clatter, completely undermining the power and the glory of the Shangri-Las sound. A good album – but it could have been a great one.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [02:14] 7.4.png The Shangri-Las - Give Him A Great Big Kiss (George Morton) Pop
A2 [02:48] 8.8.png The Shangri-Las - Leader Of The Pack (George Morton, Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich) Pop
A3 [02:38] 6.7.png The Shangri-Las - Bull Dog (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) Pop
A4 [02:24] 7.9.png The Shangri-Las - It’s Easier To Cry (Richard Steinberg, Jerome Louis Jackson, Arthur Joseph de Angelis) Pop
A5 [02:27] 6.8.png The Shangri-Las - What Is Love? (George Morton, Tony Michaels) Pop
A6 [02:11] 6.9.png The Shangri-Las - Remember (Walking In The Sand) (George Morton) Rock n Roll Ballad
B1 [02:47] 6.0.png The Shangri-Las - Twist And Shout [live] (Phil Medley, Bert Russell) Pop
B2 [02:41] 8.1.png The Shangri-Las - Maybe (Arlene Smith, George Goldner) Rock n Roll Ballad
B3 [02:14] 5.0.png The Shangri-Las - So Much In Love [live] (Billy Jackson, George Williams, Roy Stragis) Pop
B4 [02:14] 5.4.png The Shangri-Las - Shout [live] (Ronald Isley, Rudolph Bernard Isley, O’Kelly Isley) Pop
B5 [00:57] 6.5.png The Shangri-Las - Goodnight My Love (Pleasant Dreams) (John Marascalco, George Motola) Rock n Roll Ballad
B6 [02:23] 6.6.png The Shangri-Las - You Can’t Sit Down [live] (Dee Clark, Kal Mann, Cornell Muldrow) Pop

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