Our top 10 songs from The Shangri-Las list presents ten of the best songs released by a famous, though short-lived ‘60s pop girl group. Beautiful and musically talented is the best description one could give about these four ladies who took the pop scene by storm. Mary Weiss, sister to Elizabeth Weiss, was the lead singer of the pop group. Twin sisters Mary Ann Ganser and Marguerite Ganser were the other half of The Shangri-Las. The pop group had humble begins with its roots traced to their former school, Andrew Jackson High School, where they entertained masses in talent shows and school shows.
The four ladies became quite popular and soon attracted the attention of the record producer and a music industry executive, Artie Ripp. Artie helped them sign a recording contract with Kama Sutra Records (he was among the founders of the label). Through this label, the pop girl group released their single “Simon Says,” amongst other singles. Most of the songs here were later re-released under Smash Records, home to other artists such as Bill Justis, Frankie Valli, Bruce Channel, and Roger Miller.
Mary Weiss and her fellow group members started performing even before they came up with a name for their act/group. However, with a promising career, a name proved to be a necessity having them settle for the moniker, The Shangri-Las. All these ladies were vocalists having them take lead roles in different songs. Despite their changing lead roles, Mary Weiss remains one of the most renowned lead artists for the pop girl group, leading the band to successful hits, including “Leader of The Pack.”
The girls signed to Red Bird Records, a deal agreed up between the record label management and their parents. After all, the quartet members were all teenagers at that time. The pop girl group saw its initial success with the critically acclaimed hit “Remember (Walking in the Sand).” The Shangri-Las became “an overnight success” with this song which saw them ride high on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. Billy Joel, who was then an unknown-session musician, played the piano chords to the song’s intro.
The Shangri-Las would soon release their biggest hit, “Leader of The Pack,” which rose to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. Floodgates of success opened for the girl group having its members perform alongside reputable artists, including The Drifters, Rolling Stones, Vanilla Fudge, James Brown, The Animals, The Rascals, and The Beatles. The Shangri-Las released tons of hits that majorly reflected on abandonment, alienation, premature death, and loneliness. However, the group’s rise to fame was short-lived, having it disbanded a few years after its inception. Despite its short musical career, the Shangri-Las remains one of the greatest pop girl groups of all time.
#10- Long Live Our Love
Ushering to the top 10 songs from The Shangri-Las is the hit “Long Live Our Love.” This single was one of the pop girl group’s successful singles. It is featured on the group’s compilation album The Best of the Shangri-Las (1996). The song is a rare dedication to the soldiers who left their families to fight in the gruesome Vietnam War. The lead vocalist sings from the perspective of a lady whose husband is in the Vietnam War. This lady pledges her loyalty to the man, promising to stick to him even though the war and distance have kept them apart.
#9- I’m Blue
“I’m Blue” takes us back to Ike Turner, who penned this song’s lyrics. However, the song was released by The Ikettes, the backing trio to the musical duo Ike & Tina Turner. The song has since been named one of the timeless girl group songs. The Shangri-Las was among the artists who gave a rendition of this famous R&B and soul song. Other artists to have covered the song include The Sweet Inspirations, Sylvie Vartan, and The Newbeats.
#8- You Cheated, You Lied
Within the group’s short-lived musical career, The Shangri-Las brought back to life some songs performed by other artists. Our number eight song is the girl group’s cover to the hit “You Cheated (You Lied)” by the doo-wop group, The Slades. The original song was released in the late ‘50s, rising to number forty-two on the Billboard Charts. Other artists to cover the song include The Shields, Ronnie Hawkin, The Hawks, The Del Vikings, The Orlons, Sunday and The Menn, and The Calvanes.
#7- Out in The Street
“Out in The Streets” is a famous hit first recorded by The Shangri-Las for the group’s album Shangri-Las-65! (1965). Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich penned lyrics to this solemn song. Its lyrics allude to a young lady leaving a guy following her instinct that tells her that the dude is altering his wild ways for her. The song performed fairly great on the Billboard Hot 100, climbing to the fifty-third position. Blondie covered this hit while Sharleen Spiteri sampled it for her debut single “All the Times I Cried.”
#6- Past, Present, and Future
Number six on our top 10 songs from The Shangri-Las is the hit “Past, Present, and Future.” The song is one of the exquisite golden hits and last single released under the label Red Bird Records. “Past, Present, and Future” is a carefully arranged pop hit which Mary Weiss said alludes to teenage angst. The lead artist delivers a spoken word over gloomy backdrops inspired by “Moonlight Santana” by German decorated composer Beethoven. “Past, Present, and Future” peaked at number fifty-nine on the Billboard Hot 100.
When The Isley Brothers wrote and recorded the hit “Shout” in 1959, they barely knew that the song would inspire other artists. They didn’t consider the song at first but recorded and released it anyway. The Shangri-Las is among tons of artists to have performed this song. While The Beatles version was highly acclaimed, this pop girl group delivers an awe-inspiring cover to the song too. Their cover brings the best of the vocals from these talented ladies.
#4- I Can Never Go Home Anymore
The Shangri-Las tell of a narrative about a teenage girl who threatens to escape if her mom won’t give her the freedom to do what she likes in “I Can Never Go Home Anymore.” A revealed by the song’s lyrics, the girl is advised against the idea by another girl who feels remorseful after following the same route. She tells her how she went away from home after falling in love with a guy. However, all she kept thinking about was her mom. Upon returning home, she came to the sad reality that her mother had succumbed to a broken heart. The song peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100.
#3- Give Him a Great Big Kiss
“Give Him a Great Big Kiss” is one of the cheery songs from Leader of the Pack (1965). Shadow Morton penned the song for the pop girl group The Shangri-Las. “Give Him a Great Kiss” is a love song that finds The Shangri-Las describing a guy with who the singer is in love. The song was featured on Stonewall, a 1995 comedy-drama movie. Other versions of the song were released by notable artists, including Tracey Ullman, Brian Protheroe, Bette Midler, Johnny Thunders, and New York Dolls.
#2- Remember (Walking in The Sand)
The quartet led by Mary Weiss released “Remember (Walking in The Sand)” on the album Leader of the Pack (1965). “Remember (Walking in The Sand)” became a hit, imminently rising to number five on the Billboard Hot 100. It was also a hit in England, rising to number fourteen on the UK Singles Chart. The song alludes to a young love gone sour, having the singer reminisce the great time she shared with a gentleman who broke her heart.
#1- Leader of The Pack
Number one of our top 10 songs from The Shangri-Las is the teenage tragedy hit “Leader of The Pack.” Its lyrics give a narration about parental disapproval and love. The song tells of a bad guy who was the leader of a motorcycle gang. A girl falls for this guy, but the father forbids her from dating and meeting him. One last kiss is all the lady remembers about their last encounter with the late lover who met his accident after crashing with his motorbike. The song topped the Billboard Hot 100, bringing The Shangri-Las to newfound fame. One of the awe-inspiring covers to this song is the glam metal rendition by Twisted Sister.
Photo: Red Bird Records, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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