The Red Bird Girls - Very First Time in True Stereo: 1964-1966 (Real Gone Music) 

Reissue unearths long-forgotten coulda-shoulda girl-group

Real Gone Music is a newly minted reissue label dedicated to unearthing the long-forgotten and coulda-shouldas (from the Petticoat Junction Girls to the Mark Lindsey singles), and they're doing it up like obsessive music geeks. 

This comp heaves with girl-group beauty; an essential rundown of Leiber/Stoller's indie Red Bird and Blue Cat labels, which, in '64, followed the Philles and Scepter labels into high school hallways and girl-group garages.  

From the pop tart buzz of the Goodies "The Dum Dum Ditty" to Evie Sands' hit of Chip Taylor's power-pop masterpiece "I Can't Let Go" (oh, her unheralded soul-hep voice) to Ellie Greenwich's "Call Me His" (written by some kid upstart called Neil Diamond), this collection of ear-benders — including songwriters and producers Jeff Barry, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Shadow Morton and others — smells of biker leather, bubblegum and pure, gather-'round-the-microphone harmonies. 

The Butterflys' "I Wonder" is, for example, a centerpiece: Its low-chirping horns, Phil Spector (he's a co-writer) twists, soaring key-change and a bleating vocal that's so full of absolute longing it's impossible to dismiss this as disposable pop of a genre and era that manufactured and pimped distaff innocence for chart hits. Of 20 songs, most transcend genre.  

All remixed with a judicious ear by Ron Furmanek from recently discovered three- and four-track master tapes, the disc sports a 16-page booklet, song-by-song factoids, and a colorful gatefold sleeve. An essential collection (with bonus studio chatter that's all gold) for anyone lipstick-tracing the early to mid-'60s.

More by Brian Smith

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