I love girl groups. No, not in the Girls Aloud wanky kind of music- but the true essence of girl groups. The Girlfriends, The Supremes, The Shangri-Las, The Ronettes etc. The kind that sing songs about heartbreak over heavy drums. They sing songs that make your own heart, even if it isn’t broken- break. The sheer sadness and pain in the songs just makes you want to drink whiskey and cry your heart out.
I must say, I have never drank whiskey (Theresa from Warpaint told me to never drink it) but the level of sadness is so severe, it would drive you to it.
The Shangri-Las have influenced so many bands from the Vivian Girls to The Horrors. If you listen to He Cried by The Shangri-Las then listen to Who Can Say by The Horrors, you can hear the influence so clearly.
When The Shangri-Las first played together, they performed without a name. As they hailed from New York, they named themselves after a restaurant in Queens. Pretty cool way to name yourself; I wonder if they had free food for life.Their early work was heavily produced by Shadow Morton which had the essence of the Wall of Sound. Big drums, big sound. It didn’t matter if anyone was copying someone else- it was just a brilliant movement in music that still, even if it isn’t as obvious, influences so many.
The Shangri-Las toured with many bands, one being the Iguanas which of course had a member in the group that later became one of the greatest front men ever- Iggy Pop.
Staying with the Punk feel, the group have influenced so many from the Punk era including New York Dolls who covered part of Give Him A Great Big Kiss in their song, Looking For A Kiss. The Shangri-Las have even played the most legendary venues of all time-CBGBs.
If you listen to What’s A Girl To Do by Bat For Lashes, the atmospheric drum sound is highly influenced by The Shangri-Las. More recently, Hollie Cook covered Remember (Walking In The Sand) and you cannot mention any 60s girl group without mentioning the truly wonderful, Amy Winehouse. To write her in the past tense does not seem right. It will never seem right. So I will just leave it at that.
The Ronettes, the band who defined Wall of Sound are undoubtedly one of the greatest girl groups ever. Like The Shangri-Las, they had sisters in the group. This gave a feel of unity in the music, a true sisterhood.
In 1963, the girls auditioned for Phil Spector. Regardless of what he did in his personal life, you cannot deny that he is quite possibly the greatest record producer of all time. After all, he did create the Wall of Sound. Be My Baby catapulted The Ronettes into superstardom; it was also the first song Cher ever sang on- as a backup singer.
Baby, I Love You was the follow-up to Be My Baby. Again, to mention Punk- Baby, I Love You was covered by the Ramones. I also saw Faris Badwan from The Horrors join The Vaccines on stage last year at Koko in London as part of the tribute night to Charlie Haddon from Ou Est Le Swimming Pool. To see Faris on stage singing this just blew my mind. To hear one of my favourite songs of all time being sung by one of the best front men in music right now, well, it was an honour.
The Ronettes released a Christmas album, and after the release came Walking In The Rain. Since Be My Baby, this was their greatest success in the charts.
Of all the girl groups that emerged in the 60s, the one girl group that I adored the most was The Girlfriends. Although they had only one hit, My One and Only Jimmy Boy, they just as good as The Shangri-Las, The Ronettes etc.
It’s an utter shame that they only released just the one song- if they had more songs, there is no doubt that they would’ve been equally as influential as the other groups, but regardless- they are still just as important.
My love for 60s girl groups has been with me all my life. As a result, I feel it has influenced the kind of music I listen. I love music that has a lot of feelings and I love anything with a massive drum sound in it. Anything from Florence And The Machine to The Raveonettes, I just love anything with an atmospheric sound.
Current girl groups such as the Vivian Girls. Dum Dum Girls, The Like are influenced by the sounds created in 60s from girl groups.
However, it isn’t just girl groups that are influenced by them- bands such as The Horrors and The Drums are highly influenced too. If you listen to Glasvegas- especially their latest album, you can get a feel that sound too. Yes, they have a female drummer- but that isn’t the point. I must say though, anyone who can drum like that whilst standing up is extremely musically gifted aren’t they.
Cat’s Eyes carry the true feel of the girl group in their music. They are a duo consisting of Faris Badwan and Rachel Zeffira. Their album that as released this year is truly gorgeous. It made me want to raid a market full of vinyl searching for girl groups. It also made me feel I was in the 60s not 2011. The track, Over You felt like a song that could’ve easily been sung by The Shangri-Las. I’m Not Stupid creates the same feel of sadness these girl bands did. Really heartbreaking, insanely breathtaking.
Vivian Girls are a group I just adore. I love the way they dress, I love their songs. I just love everything about them. Yes, I fancy them and yes the dream girl would be one that dresses like them. However, I’m not shallow. With my face, I can’t be. I love the feel you get from their music.
Like most of the girl groups from the 60s, Vivian Girls are from New York. This leads me to believe that the vast majority of music from New York is actually the best thing ever. You don’t believe me? Listen to Ramones, New York Dolls,The Strokes, Vivian Girls, Mos Def- I’ll stop right there because I will just reel off a load of bands and bore you even more.
Fun fact for you, Ali who used to be in Vivian Girls now drums for Best Coast. If you listen to Best Coast, you can easily here the girl group influence in the music. Bethany has such a beautiful and soulful voice.
Totally shitting on my theory that all good music comes from New York, Dum Dum Girls hail from Los Angeles (alright, a lot of good music comes from NYC and LA!) They cite The Ronettes as one of their influences. They have this atmospheric sound surrounding them especially in songs such as Bhang, Bhang, I’m A Burnout and He Gets Me High.
They’ve just created this whole sound that makes you ant to jump in a car and drive off to escape how mundane real life is. That’s what good music does; it provides comfort and also an escape. Lord knows we all need it at times.
The last band I am going to mention involves me taking you all the way back to New York. Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin met whilst at University in 2010, fast forward to June 7th this year and they released their debut album. The band, of course is, Cults.
When I first heard them late last year I was transfixed. I just couldn’t get my head around what I heard. I bought the album the day it came out and it instantly became the best debut album of this year. Nothing and no one can top it this year. Yes, I have also placed it in my albums of the year also. It is has such a 60s feel to it. My favourite track off the album, Never Saw The Point is so painfully gorgeous. Like most of the album tracks, it posses a haunting feel to it- but Madeline’s voices are so angelic and stunning, it works so well. I’d imagine they are my age, maybe a bit younger. So to hear a band so young (I’m nearly 25, most days I feel about 50) create such a sound is truly wonderful.
If I was to ever start a band, which won’t ever happen because I cannot play an instrument, I’d want it to create the same vibe you get from The Velvet Underground, Townes Van Zandt, Warpaint, The Kills and Cults. Dare I mention all in the same sentence? Yes, yes I bloody well do.
As I listen to Cults’ first album, I cannot help but think how their future albums will sound. Will they still have this big sound? Will they take a completely different direction? I have no idea, but I’m excited for it.
I just love their music a daft amount. I think my summer would’ve been even more boring if it wasn’t for their album.
So there you have it. If any decade played a vital role within music- it was the 60s. Whether it was the girl groups or the psychedelic sounds, it is all highly influential and something that will never happen again. It shouldn’t happen again because it is that vital yet extremely rare.
From this, all I know I was born in the wrong era. I’ve always believed that but listening to music then- and listening to music now, I feel more for what was created rather than what is current.
Here are some more girl groups you need in your collection :