Hello again people, hope you’re all good. This week we have something a bit more upbeat for your Monday Mix Tape: a B-52’s inspired mix of great girl group singles. Today The B-52’s are only known for their mega-hit single ‘Love Shack’, which is fair enough as it is one of the most danceable songs of all time, but it is almost forgoten that their debut album is amazing. Their self-titled debut is unabashedly fun, camp and danceable whilst also unique and remarkably inventive, playing on 60s pop tropes with instrumentation that took from punk music, there are few albums as joyful as their debut. This mix tape takes The B-52’s as a starting off point and is completed by 60s girl groups who they so effectively pastiche throughout their debut album. Play this loud and dance; that is the reason these songs exist.
Fred Schiender, Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson’s sharing the vocals, lyrics about sex and dancing, undercut by organ stabs and Ricky Wilson’s awesome riffs, ‘Lava’ gets across everything that is great about The B-52s.
A classic of the girl group singles, ‘Give Him A Great Big Kiss’ is just over two-minutes of high tempo innocent rebellion. Try not to have your feet tapping to this track.
Phil Spector, the great producer whose signature ‘wall of sound’ production defined the era, was the king of the girl groups and The Ronettes were his queens. While ‘(The Best Part Of) Breakin’ Up’ is not The Ronettes staple song (‘Be My Baby’ will forever have that accolade) it remains a brilliant song.
Another from the Phil Spector studios, The Crystals were every part The Ronetts equals but never had their hits. ‘Then He Kissed Me’ has the classic relentless percussion clacking underneath the whole song, sustaining one long danceable rhythm. Brilliant.
Switching from Spector over to his Detroit counterparts of the Motown studios, who were defined less by their production than by their incredible song writing, Martha and the Vandellas’ ‘Nowhere To Run’ takes a lot of queues from Spector. The production is big, the rhythm repetitive and sustains a pulsating rhythm, perfect for dancing around to.
‘One Fine Day’ is simply adorable. It carries all the hallmarks of 60s girl groups arrangements and production, from the ‘shoo bee doo wop’s to the major/minor chord changes to the sweet as honey lyrics.
Not too well remembered nowadays The Raindrops were a one hit wonder, although their best of collection carries several wonderful songs. Because of the two female and male vocals this track in particular has a ring of The B-52’s in it, but aside from that it is just a very fun song.