Three previously unissued girl group gems on a gorgeous 60s-style vinyl EP.
Through songwriter Billy Terrell, a mutual friend, I was contacted by composer and producer Larry Weiss. With credits such as ‘I Go To Pieces’ for Gerri Granger, ‘Mr Dream Merchant’ for Jerry Butler, the international hit ‘Bend Me, Shape Me’ and some stunning ballads for Ray Pollard, Baby Washington, Chuck Jackson, Walter Jackson and others already to his name, Larry became best known in the 70s as the writer of Glen Campbell’s big hit ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’.
Being on the Brill Building scene in the 60s, Larry worked with several girl groups and his writing style lent itself to the sound Phil Spector made so popular. An act he seemed particularly close to was the Carolines who recorded his ‘Can’t Stop Lovin’ The Boy’ and ‘You’re My Baby’ for Roulette in 1966. Larry also produced the group’s other single, issued on Dynovoice two years later. All four of those sides are excellent, but languishing in Larry’s storage vault were three superb girl group recordings from 1966, all with full production and previously unheard.
Lead singer Carell recalls how it all came about: “We were a singing group in the 60s – sisters Trisha (Pat) and Evie Patane, Sylvia Torres and me, Carell Mancuso. Everyone called me Carol or Carol Ann. We were originally the Teardrops but became the Carolines, after my nickname. We sang at a lot of school functions and just for ourselves and friends: all our favourite girl group songs from that time by the Ronettes, Marvelettes, Crystals, Shirelles etc.
“One summer day we went to the beach. I remember it well. We’re at Jones Beach in Long Island, New York, on a blanket, under the sun, and we’re singing, practicing songs, as we did. This guy comes up to our blanket and says, ‘I’m Larry Weiss from Roulette Records.’ I remember saying to him, ‘Yeah, and I’m Ed Sullivan from New York City!’ – being the silly girl I was. He continued and said, ‘Really! We’d like you to come to the Brill Building to hear you and see if we can work with you.’ Well, we did go and they liked us. We made a record for Roulette and went on record hops in Philadelphia to promote it. A couple of years later we also recorded with Bob Crewe’s company, Dynovoice Records, as the Little Bits featuring Karyl Mann – another name switch. But the three songs here were recorded for Larry and for some reason never came out.”
Larry’s considerable production skills are evident on this trio of tunes. His previously unheard composition ‘Big House’ is as perfect as the girl group genre gets. The Paris Sisters were the first to record Jackie DeShannon & Jack Nitzsche’s ‘Baby That’s Me’ but saw it remain in the can until Ace put it out in 2016. Meanwhile, versions were released by the Fashions in 1964 and the Cake in 1967. Also covered was Chip Taylor’s ‘Mama’s Little Girl’ which was released by Reparata & the Delrons on RCA in 1966.