The teenaged Lesley Gore sure knew about boys. Among the titles in her era-defining catalogue include “Wonder Boy,” “Yeh, Yeh, Yeh (That Boy of Mine),” “Boys,” “Sometimes I Wish I Were a Boy,” and, of course, “That’s the Way Boys Are.” The latter opened the teen queen’s 1964 album Boys, Boys, Boys – a loose concept album of a sort dedicated to the precocious, talented singer’s most-visited theme of young love. The late artist’s third LP, it’s recently been reissued by Ace Records in a generously expanded edition more than doubling the original album’s length. It follows the label’s previous releases of Magic Colors, Girl Talk and California Nights.
Once again teaming Lesley with producer Quincy Jones and arranger-conductor Claus Ogerman, Boys, Boys, Boys collected five tracks from earlier sessions and premiered seven new songs. “That’s the Way Boys Are” from tunesmiths Mark Barkan and Ben Raleigh boasted a typically strong vocal from Lesley, infectious background vocals and a bright, handclap-filled arrangement that contrasted its bittersweet, resigned lyrics. Though it was Gore’s first single to miss the Top 10 by just two spots, it’s remained an oldies radio staple and a fan favorite. Barkan co-wrote two other tracks on Boys. “It’s Gotta Be You,” penned with Ogerman, finds Lesley pleading over a big-beat, castanets-clacking chart; Barkan and Raleigh’s “I Don’t Wanna Be a Loser” (featured on the soundtracks to both The Pawnbroker and The Girls on the Beach) ups the dramatic quotient. Paul Anka offered “Boys” (a laundry list of male flaws!) and the upbeat ode to “Danny” (originally the B-side of “It’s My Party”). Edna Lewis, co-author of “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” was tapped for two songs: “You Name It,” arranged by Ogerman with more than a casual nod to “Party,” and the apologetic “I’ll Make It Up to You.”
The up-and-coming composer Marvin Hamlisch gifted Lesley with two of her biggest hits, “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” (released in 1963, charted in 1965) and “California Nights” (1967), both co-written with lyricist Howard Liebling. Lesley wrings every drop of emotion out of Hamlisch’s dreamy melody to “That’s the Way the Ball Bounces,” swathed by Ogerman in rich strings and ethereal voices. The “You Don’t Own Me” team of John Madara and David White were represented on the LP by the moody and assertive “Don’t Call Me.” Two of Lesley’s own songs appeared on Boys, as well. The piano-driven “Leave Me Alone” showcases her sassy side, and “I’m Coolin’, No Foolin'” (with lyrics by Burt Bacharach’s Brill Building early collaborator Sydney Shaw) finds Lesley laying down the law. The most out-of-place track on Boys, Boys, Boys is a fine cover of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Something Wonderful,” sung with maturity but an uncomfortable fit for the pop songs surrounding it.
For its reissue, Ace has culled thirteen bonus tracks from the same 1963-1964 period, all pop highlights from Lesley’s first two LPs, I’ll Cry if I Want To and Lesley Gore Sings of Mixed-Up Hearts. (Those albums’ standards have been dropped.) These include songs by Goffin and King (“The Old Crowd”) and another from Paul Anka (“Hello, Young Lover,” not to be confused with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Hello, Young Lovers”). Between the bonus tracks and the songs on Boys, Boys, Boys, the A- and B-sides of Lesley’s first six English-language singles can be found on this disc. This means that “It’s My Party,” “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” “She’s a Fool” and “You Don’t Own Me” can all be found here. Throw in “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” from Mixed-Up Hearts, and the bonus material adds up to a mini-greatest hits for Miss Gore.
Ace has packaged Boys, Boys, Boys in fine fashion, with a 16-page booklet containing numerous images, a new essay by Sam Szczepanski, and reflections from songwriters Mark Barkan and John Madara. Duncan Cowell has remastered these tracks, all of which are heard in stereo. Prime pop in the girl-group vein doesn’t get much better than the 25 songs here. It is, indeed, something wonderful.
You can order Boys, Boys, Boys at the links below! Remember: Real Gone Music’s reissue of Lesley Gore’s Someplace Else Now, featuring liner notes by yours truly, is still available from Amazon.com!
- That’s the Way Boys Are
- It’s Gotta Be You
- Something Wonderful
- You Name It
- I Don’t Want to Be a Loser
- That’s the Way the Ball Bounces
- Leave ME Alone
- Don’t Call Me
- I’ll Make It Up to You
- I’m Coolin’, No Foolin’
- It’s My Party
- Just Let Me Cry
- No More Tears
- Judy’s Turn to Cry
- She’s a Fool
- The Old Crowd
- Hello Young Lover
- Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows
- You Don’t Own Me
- Run, Bobby, Run
- I Struck a Match
- If That’s the Way You Want It
- Time to Go
Tracks 1-12 from original album
Tracks 13-16 included on I’ll Cry If I Want To, Mercury LP SR 60805, 1963
Tracks 17-25 from Lesley Gore Sings of Mixed-Up Hearts, Mercury LP SR 60849, 1963