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Reissue CDs Weekly: Where The Girls Are Volume Ten | reviews, news & interviews

Reissue CDs Weekly: Where The Girls Are Volume Ten

Reissue CDs Weekly: Where The Girls Are Volume Ten

The template-setting series of female-centric Sixties pop compilations bows out

Philadelphia's The Vareeations: they didn't challenge The Supremes, but on 'Where The Girls Are Volume Ten' they are starsAce Records

The US music trade weekly Cashbox chose a picture of the then-hot Diana Ross & the Supremes and Temptations joint enterprise for the cover of its 14 December 1968 issue. On page 28, under the header “Best Bets”, a review of the “It’s the Loving Season” single by The Vareeations (pictured above) said “Standout female lead makes an especially fine showing on this blues-pop ballad side. Single is bound to attract attention and could prove a solid seller.”

Despite the thumbs-up, the 45 did not attract much more attention outside The Vareeations’ Philadelphia home base. Nonetheless, “It’s the Loving Season” is a slow-burning though still hot string-infused soul ballad with an affecting female lead vocal and a yearning melody. The status of cover stars Diana Ross & the Supremes was not challenged by The Vareeations.

Where The Girls Are Volume TenFifty-one years later the wonderful “It’s the Loving Season” has become track eight of Where The Girls Are Volume Ten, a spiffy 26-track collection of female-led Sixties pop collecting various flavours of soul, what’s thought of as classic girl-group sounds and less easily categoriseable gems  like Janie Grant’s cascading “And That Reminds me of You”, a 1966 single drawing from Phil Spector and folk-rock as defined by Cher’s solo singles of the period. Though a recast of a song popular in the late Fifties, it’s bang-on for 1966.

The Where The Girls Are series has been dedicated to, as the strap-line on the back of the 10th entry puts it, “1960s girl group treasures from the USA.” As per all the previous volumes in the series, the lesser-known names and tracks are as good as the more familiar. Here, Janie Grant and The Vareeations are set off against relative stars Reperata & The Delrons, The Sherrys and The Shirelles. Naturally, their cuts are not obvious choices. The period 1962 to 1968 is covered. For reasons not given, this is the last in the series.

Where The Girls Are Volume Ten_The sweet three I Would If I CouldOn CD, the first Where The Girls Are collection appeared in May 1997. It had been preceded in 1994 by a similarly themed album with the same title. That first digital volume also featured The Sherrys so, in a way, a circle is closed. It also set itself and ensuing volumes a high bar by including Dolly Parton’s extraordinary 1966 Shangri-Las-style aural psycho-drama “Don't Drop Out”.

Each and every Where The Girls Are has been an education and a joy. The new edition is no exception. “I Would If I Could” by The Sweet Three (from 1967) is a quasi-bubblegum shuffling stomper that, as ever in this world, sounds like it was a hit. It wasn’t and, as the liner notes explain, it probably wasn’t an issue for the (also) Philadelphia outfit as they were regularly employed as backing singers by producers such as Gamble & Huff and Jerry Ross. They also recorded as The Taffys and The Swans, under which name they scored in 1964 with “The Boy With the Beatle Hair”.

With no clunkers, Where The Girls Are Volume Ten is an essential Sixties comp and evidence that what can done on CD cannot be done with vinyl. The ebb and flow of the track sequencing, and the amount of tracks collected are not elements transferable to an album. While sad that this is the last in a template-setting series, it is also a valuable reminder that the CD is not a dead format.

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