Thursday, August 18, 2016
Lesley Gore - Boys, Boys, Boys (Mono Mix, 1964)
And now for an important message: This is NOT the recent reissue of Lesley Gore's third album, Boys, Boys, Boys! I don't put out anything on this blog that's easily available to the public. Instead, this is my own rip of the mono mix. It's the third in a series I've done of Gore's mono LPs, none of which have ever come out on CD in that form.
As with the mono mix of California Nights and most My Town, My Guy, and Me (except for one song), there are no major differences between the mono and stereo mixes of this LP. But as with the other mono mixes, it hangs together better and sounds more in-your-face since less reverb is used.
As I've written in my previous blog entries on the late Lesley Gore, I think she was one hell of a singer. Her third album, which is a concept LP of sorts, also shows her budding songwriting ability: She wrote the sassy, bossa nova-ish "Leave Me Alone" and co-wrote the ballad "I'm Coolin', No Foolin'."
I was surprised to learn that both the hits on this album were co-written by Mark Barkan. I associate Barkin with popsike music, since he wrote and performed the ultra-fab, sorta-trippy 1967 single "A Great Day for the Clown," which is featured on the fifteenth volume of Fading Yellow. What a great tune.
One of his numbers here, "That's the Way Boys Are," is just as fab. The public apparently thought so too, because they sent it to #12 when it was released as a single in early 1964. Barkan's other song here, the drippy ballad "I Don't Wanna Be a Loser," is somewhat less appealing. Once again, the public must have agreed, because it only got to #37, making it the first Gore 45 to miss the Top 20.
The song had a unique 45 mix that's not on either the mono or stereo versions of this LP. For the 45, they nixed the double-tracked vocal and went with Gore singing solo. I'm not sure why Mercury Records and/or producer Quincy Jones did this, because all Gore's previous singles had her double-tracked, even the ballad "You Don't Own Me," to which "I Don't Wanna Be A Loser" is a sort of follow-up.
(Addendum: The mix of "You Don't Own Me" on the mono Golden Hits does have a single-tracked vocal. But the "original 45s" people are touting on YouTube all have the standard double-tracking. Anyone know the story on this? I have the 45, but it's in a huge box in a closet and it's way to difficult to find.)
The single-tracked 45 version has now become a rarity. As far as I can tell, it hasn't been released on any CD. It's not on the five-CD box set from 1994, It's My Party, which is odd because that box has practically everything else.
But happily, I have this now-rare mix on my old mono vinyl copy of The Golden Hits of Lesley Gore, so I appended it to the end of this album as a bonus track. Astute listeners will note that it runs at a slightly faster speed than the Boys, Boys, Boys version. That's not a mistake on my part; that's the way it was on the Golden Hits LP. I assume that's because they got the mix from the mono 45, which was probably sped up to make it peppier. This is a subject I've discussed in previous posts and won't drone on about here.
In all, Boys, Boys, Boys is a pretty good LP and was arguably Gore's strongest album to date. It's also ahead of its time in that it projected a somewhat downbeat worldview -- not something done much in the commercial pop world in 1964.
There is a subversive aspect to this album, which may or may not have been intentional. Although it's called Boys, Boys, Boys, the thrust of most of the songs is anti-boy. Several of the songs deal with not wanting boys around at all -- notably the two Gore had a hand in writing. Was this the first overt signal from Gore regarding her sexuality?
When I interviewed Gore, she told me she wasn't clear on her sexuality until after she graduated college, so all of this might have all been unconscious. Then again, I also spotted a girl's name -- Clare -- in the middle of all the boy's names listed on the front cover. You can see this in high-quality scan I included here (it's at the very top of the cover). Or was Clare once a male name?
Am I putting way too much thought into all this? If so, that actually makes a good case as to why this album -- and the subtext implicit in its songs and packaging -- remains fascinating more than a half-century later.
Lesley Gore - My Town, My Guy and Me (Mono Mix, 1965)
Lesley Gore - California Nights (Mono Mix, 1967)
1. That's the Way Boys Are
3. It's Gotta Be You
4. Something Wonderful
5. You Name It
7. I Don't Wanna Be A Loser
8. That's the Way the Ball Bounces
9. Leave Me Alone
10. Don't Call Me
11. I'll Make It Up To You
12. I'm Coolin', No Foolin'
13. I Don't Wanna Be A Loser (Original 45 Mix)