The Shangri-Las - Leader of the Pack LP
Red Bird Records
There's more to the Shangri-Las than meets the eye, or ear, as the case may be. Their biggest hits, which just happened to be the group's first two singles, "Remember (Walking in the Sand)" and "Leader of the Pack," both written and produced by the eccentric and maybe even certifiably crazy Shadow Morton, were huge, effects-laden productions full of melodrama and gloom and came across, even in 1964, as instantaneous camp. But time hasn't erased one bit of the odd charm of these two songs, and coming from an era of British Invasion bands and bubbly girl groups, the Shangri-Las can now be viewed as a completely unique girl group with an edgy and dark vision of the heartache of love that came complete with doomed, wrong side of the tracks rebel boyfriends and the consequent unavoidable clashes with parents and authority. This set, even though almost half of the tracks are live pieces, contains most of the essential original singles and important B-sides the Shangri-Las recorded with Morton for Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller's Red Bird imprint, including the above two monster hits, the marvelous "Give Him a Great Big Kiss," the impressive "Out in the Streets," the sleek and atmospheric "Dressed in Black," and the truly odd "I Can Never Go Home Again," which is really a long, orchestrated spoken recitation about picking the wrong guy to fall for and contains the immortal lines "and then a miracle-a boy!" Quirky, fun, over the top and full of more haunted doom and gloom than any goth band could ever imagine, and yet somehow still sounding incongruously joyful, the Shangri-Las were no run of the mill girl group. There are larger collections of the Shangri-Las on the market, but the essential gist of their legacy is here.