The Shirelles – Greatest Hits

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist

As much as I like the girl-group genre, there are some large holes in my collection. I own the One Kiss Can Lead to Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost and Found box set, but that’s all rarities and obscurities. I have the Phil Spector Back to Mono box set as well, though I am not sure how complete of an overview it offers of the Ronettes or the Crystals. My Motown box set has some Marvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, and Velvelettes but again, is not comprehensive. I own no Shangri-Las. For the record, I have never liked Diana Ross’s voice and have no intention of getting a Supremes comp. But I am glad I own this Shirelles album. Formed while they were still in high school in New Jersey in 1957, the Shirelles were Shirley Owens, Doris Cooley, Addie “Mickie” Harris, and Beverly Lee. They were signed to a contract by Florence Greenberg, a literally bored New Jersey housewife who, in her mid-forties, decided to go into the music business and started the label Tiara Records. Not the first girl-group, but probably the first girl-group that found major success, the Shirelles worked with Luther Dixon to craft their unique sound. Dionne Warwick sometimes stepped in for absent members for live performances. Harris died in 1982, and Cooley passed in 2000.

What I Think of This Album

This extremely bare-bones budget CD is nonetheless adequate unless you are a very hardcore Shirelles fan. It is disappointing that there is zero information included in the booklet, but hey – it’s got the songs.

The album runs through twelve Shirelles songs, not in any particular order, spanning the years 1958-1964. As far as I can tell, all the chart hits are here:  “Soldier Boy;” “Dedicated to the One I Love;” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow;” “Mama Said;” “Foolish Little Girl;” and “Baby It’s You.”

Notably, both “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and “Tonight’s the Night” concerned losing one’s virginity, which was risky subject matter back then. “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” was a Carole King and Gerry Goffin song. Burt Bacharach was one of the songwriters of “Baby Its You.” King Curtis played sax on “Boys.”

Florence Greenberg ended up running labels that released:  “Louie, Louie;” “Twist and Shout;” and . . . uh . . . “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head.” The Shirelles sued her when they learned that a trust fund she had promised to set up and keep for them did not exist. She passed away in 1995.

Luther Dixon wrote many of these Shirelles hits, as well as “16 Candles.” He died in 2009.

The Beatles included covers of “Boys” (sung by Ringo!) and “Baby It’s You” on Please Please Me.

The Best Thing About This Album

 Fucking all of it. The vocals. The songwriting. The arrangements. ALL. OF. IT.

Release Date

1991

The Cover Art

I can’t believe I actually found this cover online. It’s awful.

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