Shangri-La's "Golden Hits of The Shangri-La's" LP Comp (1966)
Shangri-La's "Golden Hits of The Shangri-La's" LP Comp (1966)
Shangri-La's "Golden Hits of The Shangri-La's" LP Comp (1966)
Shangri-La's "Golden Hits of The Shangri-La's" LP Comp (1966)
Shangri-La's "Golden Hits of The Shangri-La's" LP Comp (1966)
Mercury Records

Shangri-La's "Golden Hits of The Shangri-La's" LP Comp (1966)

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Details: Fun, rare find! The Shangri-La's compilation, "Golden Hits of The Shangri-La's" LP on Mercury Records. Mono version, 1966. The cover shows heavier wear at the opening, top, and bottom corners. Some surface noise and marks but does not derail the album's charm--dig it! A pet favorite, be sure to play Remember (Walking In The Sand) for the realistic seagull and beach sound effects :) Absolute classic!

Description: Rock and roll's original bad girls. In 1964, George "Shadow" Morton was trying to break into the music business, and told his friends, Brill Building songwriters Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry, that he had a ton of great songs. When they called his bluff, he rounded up four high school students from Queens, New York - sisters Mary and Betty Weiss, and identical twins Margie and Mary Ann Ganser - and had them cut a demo for Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller's Red Bird Records. His first production, "Remember (Walking In The Sand)," was a hit, and the group's next single, "Leader Of The Pack," topped the charts. The secret to Morton's success was the subgenre he created: supercompressed two-minute girl-loses-boy-and-somebody-dies mini-operas, with conversational asides, melodramatic spoken passages, and bizarrely loud sound effects. But perhaps the most amazing part is how musical they are: unforgettable melodies, refreshingly spare arrangements, complete instrumentation shifts between sections ("Remember"'s chorus is nearly acapella, with light touches of piano, handclaps, and lots of seagulls) - surpassing even the best contemporaneous pop acts. Lead singer Mary Weiss's voice is too shrill for the raw emoting she does, but even that only fuels the teens-lost-in-an-adult-world aesthetic. The lyrics are maudlin to the point of being laughable, but in September 1964 trivial lyrics were expected in even the best pop songs - that month the Beatles charted "I Feel Fine" while the Beach Boys hit with "Dance, Dance, Dance" - making "Remember" seem profound by comparison.

A few more hits followed in the same style, but Morton soon shifted his focus to Janis Ian and Vanilla Fudge, and the group quickly faded.

Other than some unreleased 1977 sessions and a one-off 1989 reunion performance, the group hasn't worked together since breaking up circa 1967, and both Gansers have passed away: Mary Ann from encephalitis in 1970, and Margie from cancer in 1996 - avoid the imposter Shangri-Las currently on the oldies circuit. The group's original LPs are hard to find, but if you find The Complete Collection you're all set: it's got the two pre-Morton sides, the final two non-hit singles, and everything in between. And check out this fan page and Mary Weiss's home page. (DBW)

Golden Hits: Released on Mercury after Lieber and Stoller had sold Red Bird, this contains the hits from the previous albums plus two non-LP minor hits: the forced, cheery "Long Live Our Love," and Morton's approach taken to its extreme on "Past, Present, And Future" with no singing at all, just heartbroken spoken recitation atop a piano waltz copped from Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata." Preposterous yet moving; Pete Townshend called it one of the decade's ten best singles. Unfortunately, the label didn't include the classic A-side "He Cried," with a funereal, thumping bass drum and sorrowful orchestra. (DBW)

In 1977, the group reformed briefly, playing one show at CBGB's and recording for Sire, but nothing from the sessions was ever released. (DBW)

Grade: VG (Cover/Record)


A1. Leader Of The Pack
A2. Past Present and Future
A3. Train From Kansas City
A4. Heaven Only Knows
A5. Remember (Walking In The Sand)
A6. Out In The Streets


B1. I Can Never Go Home Anymore
B2. Give Him A Great Big Kiss
B3. Long Live Our Love
B4. Give Us Your Blessings
B5. Sophisticated Boom Boom
B6. What Is Love