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July 15, 2008
Rhythm & Blues, Early Pop/Rock, Brill Building Pop, Girl Groups

Album Review

The Shirelles' first two albums are combined onto a single-disc CD on this reissue, with the addition of three non-LP cuts from their early singles. From 1960, Tonight's the Night was, in common with many debuts by hitmakers of the early '60s, utterly dominated by the hit singles included on the LP. On Tonight's the Night, these included not only the title track, but also "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," "Dedicated to the One I Love," and an honorary hit in "Boys," the B-side of "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" (and made into a standard in its own right via a cover by the Beatles). These tracks are excellent, and appear on virtually any comprehensive Shirelles best-of. The other cuts are filler by comparison, though still pleasant for the period pop-soul-early girl group production if nothing else. Of those other songs, Luther Dixon's smoldering "Fever"-like "You Don't Want My Love" stands out, while "Unlucky" is notable for later appearing on Dionne Warwick's debut album. For the most part, even more so than some other Shirelles' long-players, the LP evokes a bygone era when innocuous young love and its accompanying hurts were the center of many teenagers' universes, fretted over with the detailed seriousness of international diplomacy. Other than the smash "Mama Said" and its medium-sized follow-up "What a Sweet Thing That Was," the Shirelles' second album, 1961's Sing to Trumpets and Strings, had none of their more celebrated tracks. Nor was it geared toward ornate arrangements or standards, as the title Sing to Trumpets and Strings might lead you to suspect. Instead, it was typical of the Shirelles' early girl group sound, though the songs surrounding the two hits weren't as strong as the two songs that served as the LP's opening cuts. Its impact is diluted, too, by the use on three numbers of backing tracks that had previously been employed on recordings of the same tunes by fellow Scepter Records artists Tommy Hunt and Chuck Jackson. Still, the Shirelles do sing those well and bring some of their own personality to those items, particularly the dignified chin-up ballad "My Willow Tree." Rounding out the CD are the rather forgettable 1959 B-side "Look a Here Baby" and "A Teardrop and a Lollipop," as well as the considerably superior 1960 B-sides "Please Be My Boyfriend," where you can hear much more of their inviting girl group sound starting to emerge.
Richie Unterberger, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Tonight's the Night
  2. Johnny on My Mind
  3. Lower the Flame
  4. Will You Love Me Tomorrow
  5. Doin't the Ronde [Mono Version]
  6. You Don't Want My Love
  7. Dedicated to the One I Love [Mono Version]
  8. Boys
  9. The Dance Is Over
  10. Oh, What a Waste of Love
  11. Unlucky
  12. Tonight at the Prom
  13. Mama Said
  14. What a Sweet Thing That Was
  15. It's Mine [Mono Version]
  16. I Saw a Tear
  17. I Don't Want to Cry
  18. Rainbow Valley [Mono Version]
  19. My Willow Tree [Mono Version]
  20. The First One [Mono Version]
  21. What's Mine Is Yours [Mono Version]
  22. Without a Word of Complaint [Mono Version]
  23. I'll Do the Same Thing Too [Mono Version]
  24. Blue Holiday [Mono Version]
  25. Look a Here Baby [Mono Version][*]
  26. Please Be My Boyfriend [Mono Version][*]
  27. A Teardrop and a Lollipop [Mono Version][*]