gullbuy music review

The Shangri-Las


Myrmidons of Melodrama




The Shangri-Las CD coverRPM has been revamping some of it's older cds, updating them with better quality sound, and in some cases bonus material not originally included. So for those who missed the Shangri-las Myrmidons of Melodrama when it was RPM 136 (from 1994), you're in for a treat now that it is RPM 506.

I for one did miss it the first time around, and made do with the budget priced The Best of the Shangri-Las on Mercury Records (from 1996). Hands down this RPM disc has the best sound I have ever heard from the Shangri-Las, and that is saying a lot. Taking the primitive recordings from the mid-1960s and upgrading them created a breathtaking listen. There are also quite a few tracks not found on the Mercury collection. Oddly, some differences between the RPM 136 version exist - by dropping their early single sides Wishing Well, Hate to Say I Told You So and their version of the Chantels' Maybe. They've added the super rare Simon Says / Simon Speaks single, which is one of those faux live records, and some radio spots and beauty tips (!). Basically those things are some fries compared to the bulk of this compilation which is raw, energized, dramatic, awe-inspiring, crucial girl group recordings. For me - the Shangri-Las represent the most exciting group in the genre. They certainly were the ones with the most memorable personas. Songs like Remember (Walkin' In The Sand), Leader of the Pack, Give Him A Great Big Kiss (with an alternate take too!), Out In The Streets, Train From Kansas City, I Can Never Go Home Anymore (ALL in stereo), Give Us Your Blessings, Dressed in Black, and Past, Present And Future are ALL incredible music and have never sounded better.

The Shangri-Las were able to create what almost amounts to a musical with their cannon of music - thanks of course to George "Shadow" Morton, Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Artie Ripp and Artie Butler. These guys would never have gotten this *sound* with anyone else: Marge Ganser, Mary Anne Ganser, Betty Weiss, and Mary Weiss were crucial in getting across these songs of death, rebels, war, lust, rape, and regret. All of this was brought to us in the hipshaking, finger snapping, gum chewing, nailbiting girl group sound of the early 1960s.

It's too bad that it wasn't decided or RPM wasn't able to include everything The Shangri-Las recorded. I think it would have been the perfect time to bring out a 2 cd set of the complete Shangri-Las (and why no video footage as an added bonus?). Since it is really the MONO versions that pack the real punch, why right now would've been the ideal time to include STEREO and MONO versions of all of The Shangri-Las songs. If bands like The Searchers can do it, I think The Shangri-Las can do it too. There's also the fact that the last few tracks (tracks 24-28) are sequenced incorrectly (that seems to be a recurring problem these days). There in lies the only problems with RPM 506. The sound quality, the liner notes, the artwork, the music is all amazing though, and if you really want to hear The Shangri-Las as they should be heard in this day and age, and until that complete cd comes out (if indeed it ever does), than it's definitely worth it to check out Myrmidons of Melodrama.

---Patrick, April 29, 2003