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Isn’t That The Look of Love: Ace Reissues and Expands Lesley Gore’s “Girl Talk”

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Lesley Gore - Girl TalkThe inviting cover image of Lesley Gore’s 1964 LP features the teenage star on the telephone, poised for some Girl Talk with her best girlfriends. Ace Records, following its expanded version of Gore’s shelved album Magic Colors, has recently reissued Girl Talk in similarly lavish fashion, with thirteen bonus tracks (Ace CDCHD 1383).

Ace’s disc spotlights one of the great, largely unheralded “triangle marriages” in pop music – artist Lesley Gore, producer Quincy Jones and arranger Claus Ogerman. With engineer Phil Ramone in the mix, the trio crafted music that transcends the “teenage” tag. With background singers Jean Thomas and Mikie Harris prominent on Girl Talk, the LP has a girl-group feel that was quintessentially American at the height of the British Invasion. Yet, as a result of Beatlemania, the sound of music was changing faster than ever. Would Lesley Gore be able to keep up with the times? The answer was a resounding “Yes!” as this eclectic album and its bonus tracks proves.

Two Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich songs on Girl Talk kept Gore prominent on the Top 40. Their stunning pop confection “Look of Love” packs a range of emotions in just under two minutes, during which the lovelorn Lesley wistfully reflects on “the way he looks at her, the way he smiles…I remember when he was mine, I remember when things were fine/Look at the way he looks at her now…isn’t that the look of love?” Lesley’s winsome yet grounded delivery keeps the tune from being bitter or maudlin, in perfect synch with the bright melody. “Maybe I Know” (No. 14) from the same team became another quintessential Gore classic. It finds the singer in a familiar setting, lamenting that “Maybe I know he’s been cheating/Maybe I know he’s been untrue…but what can I do?” as she insists “deep down inside, he loves me, though he may run around…” The character voiced by Lesley might be delusional, but the catchy record, unsurprisingly, struck a universal chord.

Though overshadowed by “Look of Love” and “Maybe I Know,” the album’s lesser-known tracks are worthy of rediscovery. Sonny Gordon’s mod, swinging, hand-clapping “Hey Now” was a perfect opening salvo to a collection of songs that paint Gore in transition, poising her for the career that continues to this very day. Larry Marks, a mainstay on both the A&M and Lee Hazlewood Industries (LHI) labels, wrote the dark and dramatic ballad “Say Goodbye.” Lesley and producer Jones turned to “You Don’t Own Me” songwriters John Madara and David White for “Live and Learn” (“I’m an expert loser/No more sweet little girl now, I’ve learned my lesson and I vow/I won’t make the same mistakes now…”). Like “Maybe I Know,” its bright, dreamy melody stands in sharp contrast to the lyrics. The groundbreaking “You Don’t Own Me” itself is echoed in Ogerman’s haunting arrangement for Jeffrey Davis and Curtis Mann’s “Little Girl Go Home,” not to mention Steve Donroy and John Gluck’s “Sometimes I Wish I Were a Boy.” Though the song is far from the most mature on Girl Talk and was never a favorite of Lesley’s, it has an undeniably pointed message as Gore confidently sings of her frustration that a woman could not make the first move in a relationship.

Gore became a successful, Oscar-nominated songwriter, and her lone song on Girl Talk, the melodramatic “I Died Inside,” received a spicy Latin flavor from Ogerman. More standard teenage fare came with “Wonder Boy” and “Movin’ Away, but R&B great and future “Hustle” man Van McCoy supplied the soulful “You’ve Come Back” and lush album closer, “It’s About That Time.” Ogerman, whose arrangements graced numerous bossa nova albums including Frank Sinatra’s first and best collaboration with Antonio Carlos Jobim, adds a bossa flavor to the song.

What bonuses will you find here?  Hit the jump for that and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 23, 2014 at 09:19

Posted in Lesley Gore, News, Reissues, Reviews

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Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye): Final “The Complete Motown Singles” Volume Bows

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The Complete Motown Singles Volume 12BThey did it.

Nearly nine years after the first volume in Hip-O Select’s The Complete Motown Singles box set series was released, the 14th and final entry in the series, Volume 12B: 1972, will be released on December 10, just in time for the holidays.

The year 1972 marks, for many, the end of the “classic Motown” period. Label founder Berry Gordy moved label operations from Detroit to Los Angeles, and many of his most treasured acts were in periods of transition. Diana Ross was long a solo artist away from The Supremes, while Smokey Robinson would part ways with The Miracles in 1972 – the same year both The Four Tops and Gladys Knight & The Pips would break off from the label. At the same time, though, several of the label’s acts were coming in to their own, from The Temptations’ psychedelic soul styles, the increasing independence and experimentation of Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye and even the shine of the spotlight on solo members of The Jackson 5, namely frontmen Michael and Jermaine.

Included in the 100 tracks across five discs are some choice rarities, including Marvin Gaye’s beautiful (but long-lost) holiday single, “I Want to Come Home for Christmas” b/w “Christmas in the City,” an unissued solo single from longtime label songwriter Valerie Simpson, a duet by G.C. Cameron and Willie Hutch that never made it to an album with Hutch’s vocal, and even rare sides by several pop acts who made their name away from the Motown roster, including Lesley Gore, Bobby Darin and Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons.

Packed, as always, with a bonus replica 7″ single (The Temptations’ classic “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”), The Complete Motown Singles Vol. 12B is loaded with notes and essays from Abdul “Duke” Fakir of The Four Tops, Susan Whitall of The Detroit News, journalist Bill Dahl and compilation producers Keith Hughes and Harry Weinger, who “contribute series postscripts that offer back stories of the Motown tape vault, session logs and tape cards.”

The Second Disc has, of course, spent most of its existence lightly prodding Harry, UMe’s vice-president of A&R, for information on the TCMS series; when we set up shop in 2010, the series had seemingly stalled at Vol. 11 the year before. Vols. 12A and 12B would not materialize until this year, though I certainly speak for both Joe and myself (not to mention countless readers and fans around the world) that the work has been well worth the wait.

On December 10, that wait is finally over. After the jump, you can pre-order your own copy of the set.

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Release Round-Up: Week of July 12

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R.E.M., Lifes Rich Pageant: 25th Anniversary Edition (EMI)

The latest R.E.M. deluxe edition set features the original LP remastered alongside a bonus disc of demos, all of which are currently available for your streaming pleasure here. (Official site)

Megadeth, Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? 25th Anniversary Edition (EMI)

The metal heroes’ breakthrough LP, remastered and featuring a live bonus disc…and for the adventurous super-fan, a deluxe box set adds two additional alternate mixes of the album along with the album and live show on hi-res audio and vinyl. (That’s five discs and three vinyl LPs!) (Official site)

Tony Bennett, The Best of the Improv Recordings (Concord)

A single-disc distillation of the 2004 Concord box set that collected all of the songs Bennett released on his own label in the mid-’70s. (Official site, Concord page)

Lesley Gore, Magic Colors: The Lost Album with Bonus Tracks 1967-1969 (Ace)

Far beyond “It’s My Party,” this lost Mercury album (with extras) brings to light a lesser-seen, soulful side of Lesley Gore. (Ace)


Written by Mike Duquette

July 12, 2011 at 08:35

Where Are All The “Magic Colors”: Lesley Gore’s Lost Album Arrives on CD

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Lesley Gore epitomized the sound of American pop in the early-to-mid 1960s with hits like “It’s My Party” and its answer/follow-up, “Judy’s Turn to Cry.”  For my money, there may never have been a greater one-two punch in pop than that pair, produced by Quincy Jones and arranged by Claus Ogerman.  But where was the teen pop queen by the Summer of Love?  The U.K.’s Ace label answers that question with the June release of Magic Colors: The Lost Album with Bonus Tracks 1967-1969, unearthing a lost LP and a full complement of bonus tracks.

“It’s My Party” and “Judy’s Turn to Cry” were just the start of a remarkable career for the 16-year old from Tenafly, New Jersey, and the Gore/Jones/Ogerman triumvirate continued turning out one smash after another.   “You Don’t Own Me” remains a striking anthem today while gems like the sunny “That’s the Way Boys Are” and Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry’s “Look of Love” and sophisticated “Maybe I Know” are as infectious today as they were in 1964.  Gore withstood the British Invasion and appeared in The TAMI Show alongside such leading lights as James Brown, The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones .  She made a guest appearance on screens big (Ski Party) and small (Batman).  Gore was still a chart presence in 1965, when she introduced a song by a young New York musician, arranger and rehearsal pianist named Marvin Hamlisch.  “Sunshine, Lollipops and Roses” was co-written by Hamlisch and Howard Liebling, and the upbeat, exultant track became another big hit for Gore and the first of many for Hamlisch, hitting No. 11 on the American charts.

But despite continuing to record impressive material by impressive talent (including Carole Bayer Sager and Toni Wine, Van McCoy, Jack Nitzsche and Russ Titelman), the hits slowed down.  Gore teamed with other producers – Shelby Singleton and Nitzsche – for the first time.  It took Bob Crewe, though, to restore Lesley’s fortunes with another Marvin Hamlisch song.  The evocative “California Nights,” with its widescreen soundscape, hit No. 16 in early 1967, proving Gore’s staying power.  But Crewe’s next single for Lesley, the stunningly gorgeous “Summer and Sandy,” stalled at No. 67.  Mercury sent producer Steve Douglas (famed for his work as part of the Los Angeles Wrecking Crew) to work with Lesley, and if “Brink of Disaster” thankfully didn’t live up to its name, it only made it as far as No. 82 late in 1967.

But “Brink” was scheduled to be part of one of Gore’s most tantalizing lost projects, an LP scheduled for release as Mercury SR-61148 entitled Magic Colors, after a psychedelic song penned by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield.  While all ten of the LP’s tracks have been released (four of them premiered on Bear Family’s exhaustive box set It’s My Party! compiling Lesley’s entire Mercury output), Ace brings them together on a single disc for the very first time, together with fifteen bonus tracks, all from 1967-1969Magic Colors: The Lost Album with Bonus Tracks 1967-1969 features a virtual “Who’s Who” of 1960s American pop music.  Consider this: songs by Sedaka and Greenfield, Hamlisch and Liebling, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Allan Gordon and Gary Bonner, Gary Geld and Peter Udell, Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, Laura Nyro and Thom Bell; productions by Steve Douglas as well as Herb Bernstein and Gamble and Huff.

Finally, Gore fans will be able to hear Magic Colors in its musical splendor as it was originally scheduled for release.  Hit the jump for the run-down on its contents plus full track listing with discographical annotation. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 18, 2011 at 13:23