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The 60's Tough Girl Battle-Ronettes or Shangilas?

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Showing 1-25 of 59 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 29, 2010 1:23:41 AM PST
Last edited by the author on May 8, 2011 2:09:22 AM PDT
The New York 60's girl group battle... Spanish Harlem or Queens. The Ronettes image tough and sexy. Ronnie Spector as the quivering voice leader-- or-- the leader of the pack Mary Weiss and the Shangri-Las sexy tough chicks. (Sorry about the misspelling, dyslexia wins)

Svengali soundmen in Phil Spector or Shadow Morton - the enigmatic mysterious producers.

Both groups have iconic music and images. Nobody's doormat and every guys dream. Mascara bedroom eyes that said Yes, but only if i wanna, 'cause i KNOW, you wanna.

"Be My Baby" or "Walking in the Sand"?

Who do you choose The Ronettes or The Shangri-Las?

Posted on Dec 29, 2010 8:27:46 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 29, 2010 8:28:47 AM PST
I was beginning to wonder if I missed out on someone called the Shangilas too, like I did with Miss Teena Marie.

Serously, I can't pick a ShangriLas song for you..... I'm going with the Ronettes!!

Were they the "Walkin' in the Sand/Boyfriend's Back" people?

Posted on Dec 29, 2010 8:38:15 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on May 8, 2011 8:47:31 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 29, 2010 9:07:04 AM PST
E. Dill says:

Do yourself a favor and visit and plug in The Ronettes and The Shangri-la's (did I spell that right?). Refresh your memory of the two....

Ronettes: Be My Baby, Baby, I Love You, (The Best Part of) Breaking Up, Walkin in the RAIN, Do I Love You?, Is This What I got For Lovin You, I Can Hear Music....etc. I was lucky enough to see Ronnie Spector (their lead singer) live a year or so ago. She's lost some of her voice and is no longer the sexy, perky 20 year old but she was still magnetic on stage, even if she needed to sit down between songs to catch her breath....the mere fact that she was able to live thru being married to Phil Spector is a miracle.

The Shangri-Las - Remember (Walkin in the Sand), Leader of the Pack, Give Him a Great Big Kiss, Out in the Streets, Give Us Your Blessings, I Can Never Go Home Anymore, Long Live Our Love, Past, Present, Future...

BTW, for me, its a toss up. Usually, I can pick one but this is like Dylan vs. the Beatles. I simply can't do it.

BTW, "My Boyfriend's Back" was done by The Angels in 1963. It WAS their big hit. As a side note, when the Angels were first signed in 1961, their lead singer was Linda Jensen and they had two releases I really liked, "Til" and "Cry Baby Cry" 1963, Jensen was replaced by Peggy Santiglia and they made their biggie, "My Boyfriend's Back". There is quite a difference between the two voices.

The Ronettes and Shangri-la's kept their two lead singers as long as they lasted....Ronnie Spector for the Ronettes and Mary Weiss with the Shangi-las. Weiss HAS released a solo record a few years ago. It was pretty good but not as magical as those early records.

One song of the Shangri-las that is both obscure (it wasn't a big hit) AND haunting is "Past, Present, Future". Using Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" as a backdrop, the song is mostly a narrative about an experience with a boy that remains unclear. She talks about dating and warns any perspective date, "but don't try to touch me....because...that will never.....happen.....again." There are those that have suggested it is referrring to a rape in her past but it remains unclear. Let's face it, a lot of the Shanri-las songs are packed with dispair, i.e., like the one Mickey mentioned, "I Can Never Go Home Anymore" or "Out in the Streets", etc. Then again, "Give Him a Great Big Kiss" is quite upbeat. I love/hate the line where she mentions, as one of "his" attributes, "dirty fingernails, man what a prize"....

If it isn't clear, I LOVE the Ronettes and the Shangi-las.


Posted on Dec 29, 2010 9:51:28 AM PST
I just borrowed a CD Box collection of the Ronettes recently. If I can recall the title was something ...about Phil Spector.

Yes, I remember few of the Shangrilas, nothing memorable to stick with a person, except the big hit songs.

Posted on Dec 29, 2010 10:35:58 AM PST
E. Dill says:

That's what happens when someone starts a topic that truly interests me....I begin assuming it interests everyone the same way....(I love your lead in Anthony...the Svengali stuff and the girls themselves...)

By your initial post here, I thought you were saying you "missed out" on the Shangri-las as with Teena Marie due to lack of knowledge of them. Evidently, you KNEW the Shangi-las and simply weren't interested in their music. My bad.

Perhaps someone who truly cares about both bands will pick up on my exuberance.


Posted on Dec 29, 2010 11:02:02 AM PST
Ok, so what is the exuberance about? I don't look at any of those girl bands as some impressive or remarkable listening 30 years later. To me, they were there; sang a few hits, and off they were to "few-hit wonderland". They are ok, if I want to plug into good and fun 60s music.

Posted on Dec 29, 2010 2:59:33 PM PST
ED S. says:
"That's why they call them,
The leader of the pack"

Shangri-La's...Though I can think of several girl groups that I like better than both of these.
These are great groups and I believe the pre-curser to the Beatles...The hair, the tailored look and
harmonies. Unfortuneatly these groups were long before 99% of the Amazon Music community was listening to

Posted on Dec 29, 2010 3:11:07 PM PST
W.H. says:
This is a tough one, but I'm going with the clever, quirky Shangri-Las. Listen to songs like "Past, Present And Future" and "The Train From Kansas City" and you'll see (or hear) why I chose them.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 29, 2010 5:09:35 PM PST

Phil Spector Box Set is called "Back to Mono".. I have it and it has many Ronettes songs on it. I have to take the Ronettes over the Shangri- las. Just personal preference for me. When you are 12 years old and watch both these groups on TV you fall in love, but the Ronettes muisc and Ronnie's voice just gives them the nod.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 29, 2010 10:24:53 PM PST
E. Dill says:

<<I don't look at any of those girl bands as some impressive or remarkable listening 30 years later>>

I guess I should have know that by the <<Were they the "Walkin' in the Sand/Boyfriend's Back" people? >>

Yeah, most of the girl groups didn't have longevity and dealt mostly in singles, NOT albums. So, if someone asks how a group like the Shirelles can be in the hall of fame and not Rush (with a gazillion albums to their credit and much acclaim for their instrumental virtuosity and songwriting), I haven't a clue to answer and I'm only using the Hall as an example of "misguided exuberance"....we can use the other whipping boy, Rolling Stone magazine instead.

I don't know how to judge careers. I am much better at judging song and maybe albums. It's hard for me to decide that if someone makes what I think is one or two great songs they are x times less important than a band that makes 15 good to great albums. I can't think in terms of 2 songs vs. 150-175. It's not mathematics.

For some, this could be the perfect proof that my tastes are f-ed, but I think I'd take the hits of The Ronettes and those of The Shangri-las vs. the entire lifes work of Rush. And I like Rush.


Posted on Dec 29, 2010 10:39:11 PM PST
Hi. E. Dill,

The Ronettes and Shangri-Las both had single simple songs that were like little pop symphonies. Along with many other girl groups. But sometimes the marriage of material, producer, act, and time period creates some kind of magic. And with these two it was also the sultry but tough image that sets em apart. But their songs really hold up. I'm a huge Ronnie Spector fan really love her voice. I read her book, very breathy and have most of her stuff. I love the Joey Ramone produced record she did.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 30, 2010 1:17:47 AM PST
E. Dill says:

I agree with your assessment completely.

BTW, I've often listed Ronnie as one of my favorite female singers of all time....she, at times, said she was influenced by Frankie Lymon and I can hear some of him in her voice but she's still one of a kind. The only other female voice that comes close to Ronnie, IMO, is/was the lead singer with the 50's girl group, The Chantels, Arlene Smith. When she sang songs like "Maybe", "Every Night", it sent chills down my spine.

I have the later album she made and mentioned that I did see her live within the past year or so. She's lost a little of her voice but she still sounds better than most. For some reason, I thought she'd be a bit "over the top" as some aging ex-stars can be, but she was gracious, confident but humble and charismatic as can be. The audience was mesmerized by her. Somewhere I have single she did with Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes. One side was the supposed A Side, "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" but the B Side is the one I love(d)...but I can't remember the title. I'll have to find that 45.

thanks again for bringing back such great memories. Oh yeah, besides the Spector album, I have the Weiss solo album too. Her voice is a bit shakey in parts but I still enjoyed it. And speaking of pop symphonies, the Shangri-las song "Past, Present, Future", using "Moonlight Sonata" as a backdrop for the narrative, is just that. I read that Weiss shocked everyone with the emotion she put into her spoken sure got to me.


Posted on Dec 30, 2010 3:39:46 AM PST
rbefly says:
Here's a brief and very subjective chronology;
In the fifties, the Doo Wop and vocal groups were (nearly) exclusively male. Occasionally a group would have one female member and even more rarely, the female happened to sing lead on a hit single. "A Casual Look" by the Six Teens is one example. Other "mixed" groups included The Fleetwoods the Miracles, and a one-shot group called The Teddy Bears, which included a young Phil Spector, one other male and one female singer. Their hit is "To Know Him Is To Love Him".
Along came the Chantels, an all-female Doo Wop singing group. Their lead singer was a teen sensation named Arlene Smith. They had a monster hit single "Maybe" and several other smaller hits. Smith's voice had an wonderfully innocent quality to it and Spector (along with Berry Gordy Jr.) took notice.
Spector embarked upon a record-producing career and one early project was a hit single with, none other than Arlene Smith and the re-formed Chantels, called "Look In My Eyes". This was 1960. Later that same year he co-wrote and produced "Stand By Me/Spanish Harlem" with Ben E. King. As his producing career grew, Phil Spector planned to form his own label and create a stable of artists.
Spector also looked for a female singer with that same innocence and little-girl sound. He found The Ronettes (Then the "Darling Sisters" and "Ronnie And The Relatives"), who began as dancers behind Joey Dee and The Starlighters at the Peppermint Lounge in NYC, during the "Twist" craze. Veronica had exactly the voice Spector sought.
By 1963, Spector already had The Crystals and Darlene Love on his Phillies label. He had begun to perfect the "Wall Of Sound" technique, a densely-layered, heavily overdubbed backround sound with the singer's voice placed squarely in the center. It was very unusual for the time, a near-orchestral or symphonic, BIG sound that commanded the listener's attention, and broke through inexpensive stereos (like car radios) unlike any other records of the era.
In 1963, he combined Ronnie's voice, a teen-yearning set of lyrics and the ultimate "Wall" sound into what many consider his greatest (female) single song; "Be My Baby" (His greatest male single would be "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" by the Righteous Brothers).
"Be My Baby" became a monster hit, # 2 overall and is listed as # 22 on the Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Songs Of All Time".
Of course, this level of sucess will be widely copied. Another record producer, George "Shadow" Morton, formed Red Bird records, as a challenger to Atco/Atlantic, and produced a female counterpart to the Ronettes, with similar (although not as well done) "Wall Of Sound" production techniques. The result was "(Remember) Walkin' In The Sand" and 'Leader Of The Pack" by the Shangri-La's.
By this time, Berry Gordy Jr had formed Tamla/Motown records and had hits with various groups, but still looked for the Arlene Smith/Ronnie Spector voice and sound. He found Diana Ross and the rest, as they say, is history.
For a far more objective history, google Phil Spector, Chantels, Ronettes, Shangri-Las, Supremes, Motown, etc.

Posted on Dec 30, 2010 4:10:57 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 30, 2010 4:16:16 AM PST
E. Dill,

Very interesting the comparison of Frankie Lymon, the child singer, with Ronnie the woman with a childish voice. Easy to hear the comparison.


Wow , thanks. The thing with the Shangri-Las, for me, that i love is the perfection of their records, as they stand, just great songs. The marriage of Shadow and the group is perfect and created lasting unforgettable songs.

Phil is the blueprint genius producer but he screwed up a lot through the years. But in his prime perfection. Both the Ronettes and Shangri-Las best stuff really stands up, even after all this time. Shadow and Weiss- Phil and Ronnie in the sixties created unknowingly lasting music.

Posted on Dec 30, 2010 4:13:51 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 30, 2010 7:16:09 AM PST
cw says:
o-kay as to who was tougher I would definetly go with the Shangri-Las and for more about them check out the book about the Brill Building it has the stories behind the Shangri-Las songs

Posted on Dec 30, 2010 4:17:11 AM PST
cw says:
the tiltle of the book is Always Magic in the Air: The Bomp and Brilliance of the Brill Building Erait will tell you all about the Shangri-Las

Posted on Dec 30, 2010 5:01:13 AM PST
James Walsh says:
The Ronettes had the better songs (and the sleeve to their 45 of "Remember" helped me make it through puberty). But who's the TOUGHEST? Hey, I was in the gangs in New York back then--and the Shangri-las could have made mincemeat out of the Ronettes!

Posted on Dec 30, 2010 6:18:26 AM PST
SHANGRI-LAS! 24-7-365!! yeah!

the train from kansas city!
right now, not later!
give him a great big kiss!
dressed in black!
The Best Of The Shangri-Las

Posted on Jan 5, 2011 7:22:39 PM PST
Love, Dressed in Black.

Posted on Apr 1, 2011 11:40:50 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 6, 2011 11:51:38 PM PDT]

Posted on May 6, 2011 11:52:31 PM PDT
Both have a pop but subversive nature to them.

Posted on May 7, 2011 5:27:15 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 7, 2011 11:29:32 PM PDT
Hinch says:
I like both, but I'd have to choose The Shangri-Las.

Some of their songs were very dramatic, and tear jerkers, such as "You Can Never Go Home".

When I was a teen, I had a crush on the lead singer, with her long blonde hair.

Ronnie Spector is pretty hot too.

I saw her recently, and she still looks good and sings very good.

Posted on May 7, 2011 10:29:21 PM PDT
John Larrick says:
I loved the early 60's music and the "girl groups" were a huge part of the magic of the era. I loved the Crystals with Darlene Love and all the rest. About a year ago I read "Tearing Down The Wall of Sound" the all encompasing bio of Phil Spector, it really told the story of so many of these artists and the producing genius of Spector.
I still watch Darlene Love's Christmas apperance on David Letterman's annual holiday show where she sings "Baby please come home for Christmas" and knocks it out of the park. Great groups, great era and music that will never be replicated.

In reply to an earlier post on May 9, 2011 8:02:04 PM PDT
S. Stalcup says:
Dang, John, you beat me on the dissenting opinion. I'm going to go with Darlene Love, too. With or without The Crystals. Two reasons for it.

1. "He's a Rebel" (My family knows I want this inscribed on my tombstone in purple neon when I kack).
2. "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" One of the best Christmas songs EVER.

Maximum respect to Mary Weiss for putting out a solo CD a few years ago even though the twins died (the other Shangri-Las), but Veronica Bennett (Oooh. Someone's being a bit of a music geek and I think it's me.) and her "widdle girl" schtick got old really fast. The only people who ate her up were Phil Spector and Brian Wilson, neither man the picture of stability during the time the Ronettes were charting (or still today in Phil's case).

Nope, gotta be the minister's daughter, Darlene Love. BRILLIANT pipes on that one.
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Initial post:  Dec 29, 2010
Latest post:  Jun 17, 2016

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