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Where The Girls Are, Volume 6
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  • Where are many of these girls? In the footnotes of the girl group archives, and most of them are there with good reason -- which isn't to say that talent isn't to be found within the latest volume of this long-running Ace series, for there's certainly a slew of fine singers strewn across the 28 tracks, yet few are showcased to best advantage. The '60s were the heyday of crack composition teams and the glory years of the producer as God. In a time when short, sharp, hook-laced pop songs ruled, you needed both to make an impact, and these ladies too often had neither. Barbara Mills, for instance, had a voice as strong and distinctive as her brother, Larry Henley, lead singer with hitmakers the Newbeats. However, he was never saddled with a song that was an inferior rewrite of "Downtown." There's a clutch of similarly sad sound-alikes here, with one of the most egregious being "I Have Feelings Too," bundling up virtually every Supremes hit you can thing of. Pity is, the singer behind the song, Denita James, had a phenomenal voice, and in a fairer world she'd have notched up a stream of hits at Stax. In contrast, "No More Tears," seemingly another Supremes ripoff, was actually intended for release on Motown, presumably until Berry Gordy realized his main attraction had no need for competition, and so the single was released on Kent instead. And many of the ladies here could have offered very stiff competition indeed, if they'd gotten the same breaks as Diana Ross and company. Even if some were still in thrall to their own particular heroes, many had already developed their own distinctive stylings, such as schoolgirl songbird Beverly Warren on her unique and effervescent reading of the Chiffons' "He's So Fine." The powerful Pat Powdrill, the wonderfully strident Joy Dawn, and the rousing Pen-etts are all equally worthy of attention. Little Eva received plenty of that with her "Locomotion" hit, and her previously unreleased "Sugar Plum (Give Me Some)" is one of five numbers appearing for the first time on this set. The Chiffons' "Every Boy and Girl" isn't one of them; it was actually released in 1970, but only on a rare 1970 compilation album. Few of the other names found here have these two artists' cachet, but that's the beauty of this set, finally giving forgotten talent a chance to shine, and many manage to do so even on less than stellar showcases. ~ Jo-Ann Greene
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