Tonight's The Night / Sing To Trumpets And Strings
The Shirelles' first two albums are combined onto a single-disc CD on this reissue, with the addition of three non-LP cuts from their early singles. From 1960, Tonight's the Night was, in common with many debuts by hitmakers of the early '60s, utterly dominated by the hit singles included on the LP. On Tonight's the Night, these included not only the title track, but also "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," "Dedicated to the One I Love," and an honorary hit in "Boys," the B-side of "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" (and made into a standard in its own right via a cover by the Beatles). These tracks are excellent, and appear on virtually any comprehensive Shirelles best-of. The other cuts are filler by comparison, though still pleasant for the period pop-soul-early girl group production if nothing else. Of those other songs, Luther Dixon's smoldering "Fever"-like "You Don't Want My Love" stands out, while "Unlucky" is notable for later appearing on Dionne Warwick's debut album. For the most part, even more so than some other Shirelles' long-players, the LP evokes a bygone era when innocuous young love and its accompanying hurts were the center of many teenagers' universes, fretted over with the detailed seriousness of international diplomacy. Other than the smash "Mama Said" and its medium-sized follow-up "What a Sweet Thing That Was," the Shirelles' second album, 1961's Sing to Trumpets and Strings, had none of their more celebrated tracks. Nor was it geared toward ornate arrangements or standards, as the title Sing to Trumpets and Strings might lead you to suspect. Instead, it was typical of the Shirelles' early girl group sound, though the songs surrounding the two hits weren't as strong as the two songs that served as the LP's opening cuts. Its impact is diluted, too, by the use on three numbers of backing tracks that had previously been employed on recordings of the same tunes by fellow Scepter Records artists Tommy Hunt and Chuck Jackson. Still, the Shirelles do sing those well and bring some of their own personality to those items, particularly the dignified chin-up ballad "My Willow Tree." Rounding out the CD are the rather forgettable 1959 B-side "Look a Here Baby" and "A Teardrop and a Lollipop," as well as the considerably superior 1960 B-sides "Please Be My Boyfriend," where you can hear much more of their inviting girl group sound starting to emerge. ~ Richie Unterberger
Record Collector (magazine) (p.96) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "'Tonight's The Night' landed The Shirelles a Top 20 R&B hit....While songs such as 'You Don't Want My Love' and 'Mama Said' added a more roughed up, raw soul side to the girls' oeuvre."