A little more sour then sweet
vintageboy | 10/13/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Chiffons are surely one of the great overlooked girl groups. Their harmonious sounds are the things music lover's dreams are made of. This CD set is the first of its kind to actually offer TWO discs and 50 tracks spread out between them. It is, unfortunately, a victim of rather poor mastering, making some of the tracks sound fuzzy and not as good as on previous collections. For fans (like myself) who hoped this to be the definitive collection, it's a bit of a disappointment.
The good news about this set, is that it brings some rare tracks to CD for the first time. The girls' immaculate 1964 single, "What Am I Gonna Do With You (Hey Baby)" is finally here on disc, as is their last Laurie single, the lovely "Love Me Like You're Gonna Lose Me". BOTH of these are essential Chiffons listening, and it's hard to believe neither has seen a CD release before. Also on here are select B-sides as well as some tracks from their very rare, and superb B.T. Puppy album, "My Secret Love". Oddly, some of the tracks from that album which could have fit on the disc are not here, including their great original version of "It Hurts to Be Sixteen", later recorded by Andrea Carroll and Barbara Chandler.
With all these rare gems, why is this set such a bummer? The mastering is pitiful, that's why. Listening to these tracks on headphones, it's clear that many of them came from old vinyl (presumably due to the master tapes no longer being available). While that would be understandable, the mastering of those MONO tracks for this disc is bizarre, with much of the music coming out of one speaker, while the other emits mostly hiss. Why they couldn't (or simply didn't) phase these tracks to mono properly, is beyond me, and it just comes across as very careless and sloppy mastering. Stranger still, is that such well known (and easier to find) tracks, like "He's So Fine", sound muddy as well. Surely there are enough good copies of that around, they could have done better.
Despite all these things, I am glad to have some of these tracks on CD, though for the price, the packaging (with very skimpy liner notes) and especially the sound, could have been much better. To date, my favorite Chiffons collection on CD is the Greatest Recordings single disc, released by ACE in the early 90s. Sadly it is out of print now, but is worth finding. While all the tracks on that set are also on this one, I think the liner notes and sound on that earlier set, far surpass this one. Here's hoping that another, better set is out there in the future. The Chiffons legacy is certainly deserving of such."
Good to have, but...
Mike | Youngstown, Ohio United States | 05/29/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have only a couple of things to add. I second the notion that at last we have "What Am I Gonna Do With You (Hey Baby)" on CD...which is simply the most beautiful girl group record ever made. Bar none...it's that good.
And I'm not an expert on sound matters; I'll leave that to others. But no one has yet pointed out two very serious errors on this set that have to do not with sound quality, but with missing tracks. Both "Down Down Down" and "Thumbs Down" have ALL of the backing harmonies stripped away, leaving only Judy Craig's lead vocal. (The latter, in fact, may be an alternate take of the song, as the version on the original stereo LP has both Judy's lead and the backing harmonies all on one track, panned hard left, with all instruments on the right.)
It's hard to imagine how something this boneheaded could have been allowed to pass. As bad as it is, don't let it dissuade you from buying this set. The Chiffons' harmonies were miles ahead of any other girl groups, and they had a warm and wonderful lead vocalist in Judy Craig, and a very effective second lead vocalist for selected tracks in Sylvia.
Some of the finest girl group music ever is right here....don't miss it."
Chiffons front and center--although a few tracks are not the
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 08/25/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Chiffons created some beautiful music while they were together as a girl group; and this two CD set offers us fifty (yes, fifty) of their songs. Several of the songs on this two CD set are on CD for the first time; and therefore I would rank this as essential listening for fans of The Chiffons and the other girl groups of their time.
The first CD begins with their classic "He's So Fine." They harmonize to perfection as they sing of the men they'd love to catch to be their own. The melody works well and the percussion bolsters the number. Great! "One Fine Day," a relentlessly happy, upbeat and optimistic melody, gives The Chiffons the chance to sing of a love that they know will come to be. I especially like how the arrangement uses the piano; and the group harmonizes to perfection with subtle chord changes to make "One Fine Day" an even better number! Great!
"Why Am I So Shy" has a great deal of surface noise; I agree with the other reviewer who writes that this must have been copied from vinyl. Ouch! It's a shame because "Why Am I So Shy" is such a strong number about a young woman's angst. "I Have A Boyfriend" is another number you may well recognize the moment you hear it; "I Have A Boyfriend" was one of the bigger hits for The Chiffons. The beat is distinctly early 1960s as the group delivers this number without a superfluous note. Great! "Sailor Boy" has The Chiffons singing of how they miss their sailor boyfriends; they background harmonizing up against the vocals produces a great effect to make "Sailor Boy" a strong number. "Tonight I'm Gonna Dream" has that early 1960s beat to it; the ladies harmonize as the melody matches their vocals to perfection. The first CD ends with "Now That You're My Baby;" this strong number uses percussion and harmonizing again to create a solid number for The Chiffons.
The second CD continues the hits and lesser known masterpieces. The first song on the second CD, "Sweet Talkin' Guy," may be one of their very best known tunes. The angst in the song is highlighted by the first few chords in the musical arrangement. I have rarely heard such a beautiful number from any girl group. "Sweet Talkin' Guy" explores the angst the girls feel when they realize that the men they want are not true to them. If you like The Chiffons and other girl groups from the early 1960s, you will love "Sweet Talkin' Guy."
"Down Down Down" has a strong rhythm to it; and "Dream Dream Dream" shines as a great number while the ladies reminisce about a love gone wrong. The Chiffons also cover "My Boyfriend's Back;" they sing this with passion and style. Awesome percussion, too! "He's A Bad One" also appears to be mastered from vinyl; the sound just isn't so good. The ladies do a great job with "He's A Bad One," however. "Just For Tonight" again features the ladies as they sing of how they love their men even if all they can get is a one night stand. "Teach Me How" has a gentle feel to it that charms me with its beauty; and "Secret Love" lets the ladies take a classic pop vocal and infuse it with the rock and roll flavor of their time. "Secret Love" is a highlight of the two CD set! I love the chords the ladies use to harmonize on "Secret Love!"
"Remember Me Baby" sports that 1960s flavor to it; and the ladies deliver this without a superfluous note! Finally, "My Sweet Lord" starts with a beautiful flute arrangement and The Chiffons make this classic ballad their very own with their stunning rendition of "My Sweet Lord." Even though "My Sweet Lord" is the last track, it is another highlight of this two CD set. Great!
The liner notes have a lengthy and informative essay by Bob Stanley; and the artwork gives us great pictures of the four girl group.
The Chiffons will always be remembered fondly for their countless contributions to the arts; and their CDs still sell well today. I highly recommend this two CD set for fans of The Chiffons even though a few of the tracks do indeed have less than CD quality sound. I also recommend this CD for fans of 1960s girl groups.