TJR presents… Top 10: The Shangri-Las

TJR presents… Top 10: The Shangri-Las

– The undisputed Queens of the teen melodrama.
  • Runtime: 28m.
  • Compiled from 149 collection entries @ 18-Oct-2019.
  • Fantasy Album Rating: 8.95 “A classic”
  • To access shuffle-play or avoid in-play interruption due to territorially blocked videos, it might be best playing directly via YouTube external-link.png

Past, Present And Future by The Shangri-Las (1966)
(Jerry Leiber, Arthur Butler, George Morton)

10.0 “Utterly perfect” Songwriter
TJR saysFirst out as a single in May, 1966. Their final single for Red Bird was a heartbreaking stunner, built upon the main piano melody from Ludwig van Beethoven's “Moonlight Sonata”, which serves as the backdrop to Mary's spoken word performance; a finer actress you could never wish to hear. The love-scarred protagonist takes us on a 3 verse tale broken into the past, the present and the future. We're willing her on in her quest to trust again. Mary's aptitude for character depiction was the group's greatest asset.

Out In The Streets by The Shangri-Las (1965)
(Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich)

9.8 “All-time classic” Pop Ballad
TJR saysFirst out as a single in March, 1965. The pain of growing apart from someone really close is reflected soulfully on “Out In The Streets”. It’s a massive performance from everyone; Mary’s reading is perfection and production wise, the solemn rhythm and Jeff Barry’s strings make for a thing of sheer beauty – an all-time classic single and the crowning glory of their second LP.

The Train From Kansas City by The Shangri-Las (1965)
(Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich)

9.3 “Classic” Pop
TJR saysFirst out as the b-side to “Right Now And Not Later” in August, 1965. Jeff & Ellie’s partnership was responsible for many of their gems. In a parallel universe, “Train From Kansas City” would be the latest single from Jeff Barry and George Morton, ace producers extraordinaire of 200 Motown hits 1964-1969. It’s got the lot; a great beat, killer melody lines, awesome girl harmonies, and tricks and licks galore. Chugga-chugga-choo-choo!

Give Us Your Blessings by The Shangri-Las (1965)
(Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich)

9.1 “Classic” Pop
TJR saysFirst out as a single in May, 1965. A trademark Shangri-Las number and packed full of drama; young teenagers in love threaten to runaway unless they can be married. It’s set to a thunderous backdrop, with chiming bells and church keys and production tricks rooted in the successes of “Remember” and “Leader”: “Well as they drove off they were crying, and nobody knows for sure that, that's why they didn't see the sign, that road detour. The next day they found them, Mary and Jimmy were dead, and as their folks knelt beside them in the rain they couldn't help but hear the last words that Mary had said, Give us your blessing, please don't make us run away, give us your blessing say you'll be there on our wedding day.” Ooft. It’s a death-rock classic of the highest order. What entertainment!

The Boy by The Shangri-Las (1965)
(George Morton)

9.0 “Classic” Rock n Roll Ballad
TJR saysFirst out as the b-side to “Out In The Streets” in March, 1965. “The Boy” sums up what the Shangri-Las were all about – infatuation and teenage romance, the most serious, most important thing in the whole wide world. Jimmy and Mary 4ever x.

Leader Of The Pack by The Shangri-Las (1964)
(George Morton, Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich)

8.8 “Excellent” Pop
TJR saysFirst out as a single in September, 1964. 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”, a high quality death-pop number which rose all the way to the very summit of the Billboard 100 in November. I was kinda disappointed to learn that the motorcyle was from an effects record and not, as legend has it, an in-studio Harley Davidson! The debut album (in February '65) was presented complete with an “image adjustment”; they were cast as street-wise tough-gals, with the liner notes on the reverse of the LP mounted on the back of a biker’s jacket. You get the picture? Yes, we see.

Right Now And Not Later by The Shangri-Las (1965)
(Robert Bateman, Kenneth Hollon, Robert Mosely)

8.8 “Excellent” Pop
TJR saysFirst out as a single in August, 1965. This glorious 45 is extremely well driven and is packed full of Motown goodness, with excellent vocals, a honking sax, swirling organs and a great bassline. If your hips don’t sway to this then, basically, you’re a dead person. It’s happening right now, later is too late is as positive as they get really.

The Dum Dum Ditty by The Shangri-Las (1965)
(Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart, Larry Martire, Steve Venet)

8.4 “Fantastic” Pop
TJR saysFrom their second album “Shangri-Las 65!” (Red Bird RB 20-104) released in September, 1965. Recalls the insanely happy sugar-rush of the Crystals, as the girls sing in unison “he’s a rebel without a cause, he doesn’t do what everyone else does.” Hey, they're singing my song ; - )

You Cheated, You Lied by The Shangri-Las (1965)
(Don Burch, Levon Helm)

8.2 “Fantastic” Rock n Roll Ballad
TJR saysFrom their second album “Shangri-Las 65!” (Red Bird RB 20-104) released in September, 1965. As with “Dum Dum Ditty”, influences are laid bare on “You Cheated, You Lied”, where the girls delve back in to the Rock n Roll ballad archives for a go at the Slades hit of 1958. They’re superb at the doo-wop style and it’s decided that such a ballad will be the best way to finish the set, although the genre gets a ’65 reinvention, devoid of actual doo-wop sparkle and imbued instead with something altogether darker and moodier.

Maybe by The Shangri-Las (1964)
(Arlene Smith, George Goldner)

8.1 “Fantastic” Rock n Roll Ballad
TJR saysFirst out as a single in December, 1964. Camera-shy Betty Weiss (lead singer Mary's sister) took the lead vocal for this fake-live cover of the Chantels 1957 smash. And fantastic she is too.

TJR presents… Top 10: The Shangri-Las (via Spotify)

  • Runtime: 27m.
  • To access shuffle-play or overcome other issues with the embed application, it might be best playing directly via Spotify external-link.png

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