ARTIST: The Shirelles
The Shirelles

The Shirelles were instrumental in defining the girl group sound, and were one of the style’s most successful acts between 1960 and 1963, when they placed six singles in the Top Ten. Bridging doo wop and uptown New York pop-soul, the group projected a beguiling mixture of tenderness and innocence that was grounded in R&B as much as pop/rock. Forming as high school classmates in New Jersey, the Shirelles came under the wing of manager Florence Greenberg, who also ran the Scepter label.

Many of their classic early sides featured innovative, occasionally string-laden production by Luther Dixon, who also penned several of their greatest songs. Top Brill Building pop songwriters like Goffin-King, Bacharach-David, and Van McCoy also supplied the group with material. “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “Baby It’s You,” “Foolish Little Girl,” “Soldier Boy,” “Dedicated to the One I Love,” and “Mama Said” were their biggest hits, but they also cut a number of less-famous sides, including “Boys,” which (like “Baby It’s You”) was covered by the Beatles on their first LP. After mid-1963, the Shirelles were unable to dent the Top 40, although they recorded several songs, including the original version of “Sha La La” (covered for a hit by Manfred Mann). The group recorded well into the ’70s, updating their sound into a more soul-oriented mode.

– Richie Unterberger
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