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THE VAULTS / CD REISSUES

The Shangri-Las' "The Best of the Shangri-Las" (Mercury Chronicles). (***)

July 05, 1996|ROBERT HILBURN

Because they are mostly remembered today for "Leader of the Pack," the story of a teenage girl's heartbreak when the "bad boy" of her dreams is killed in a motorcycle crash after being run off by her parents, the Shangri-Las are widely dismissed as simply another of the one-hit wonders of the girl group movement.

So this 25-song collection should be a revelation. It lacks the remarkable craft of the Spector recordings, but the tracks--from the anguish of "Give Us Your Blessings" to the romantic tension of "The Train From Kansas City"--are far more imaginative than most of the selections on "Growin' Up." That's because producer Shadow Morton, who would later work with the New York Dolls, had a flair for dramatics that made the records at once morbid and witty.

The singers are two pairs of sisters, Mary and Betty Weiss and twins Mary Ann and Marge Ganser, but Morton is the name to remember. Warning: Don't think lightning will strike twice. A companion CD saluting the Angels falls far short of this album's punch.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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