When you see author, St.Etienne member – and fan of the Non-League dog – Bob Stanley’s name in the credits of a new compilation you can rely on two things: the tracklisting will include a bunch of tracks you’ve never heard before, and the selection will be uniformly interesting. So it is here, with 24 solid entries of girl group tunes (and a few female solo acts) from the early 60s that suggests, even now, that this is a well yet to run totally dry.
Stanley unearths a broad selection of sounds, from familiar girl group formats to slower tempo smoochers like The Petites‘ ‘The Beating Of My Heart’ and the sparkling fizz of ‘It’s Murder For Roberta’ by Jennie Smith. Genre tropes like the trouble that bad boys bring colour The Blossoms’ ‘Big Talking Jim’ – essentially a Lana Del Rey for the soda fountain generation – while ‘Poor Little Puppet’ by Cathy Carroll [pictured], with its air of ‘Cathy’s Clown’ in the chorus, is a self-deprecating tale of how stupid infatuation can be (“I guess it’s because her head is made of wood!”).
The strength of All About The Girls … is the acknowledgement that there are pleasures to be found away from the standard Chiffons-clones; cases in point: The Capri Sisters’ ‘Fairy Tale’ is more of 50s show tune or the chirpy fun of ‘Bobby Is My Hobby’ by Margie Rayburn. Even so, it’s hard to go past The Challengers‘ ‘I Hear An Echo’ – yet another ‘death song’ so typical of the genre – if you’re looking for a highlight.