Vinyl it seems, has made a Lazarus like recovery over the last few years. The sales figures for 2014 are proof of this.

In Britain, sales of vinyl albums are at their highest in eighteen years. It’s a similar story in America. 

Sales of albums on vinyl rose by fifty-two percent. Meanwhile, sales of downloads, the supposed saviour of the modern music industry are down. 

Downloads of albums fell by nine percent. Cheerleaders for downloads within the music industry will try to argue that’s because people aren’t buying albums any more. They’re wrong. Sales of downloads of songs fell by twelve percent. The problem is, the cheerleaders for downloads are in denial. No wonder. They’ve two reasons to be worried.

A few years ago, many small, independent labels bet the bank on downloads and streaming. Granted streaming’s popularity has increased by fifty-four percent in 2014. However, it’s a seriously flawed model. 

The music industry didn’t understand the streaming model. Especially small, cash strapped independents. Many of these labels live a hand-to-mouth existence. Streaming offered them an extra revenue stream. For labels who were barely breaking even, it was a case of where do we sign? However, many of the people running these independent labels aren’t business people.

Far from it. Essentially fans at heart. That’s a recipe for disaster. Especially if they fail to read a contract carefully. This is something many labels failed to do. Instead, they happily signed contracts with the streaming companies. Then it was a case of trebles all round, and have a cigar. What the various label managers and owners didn’t realise, was how much, or rather, how little, they would be paid. 

After a year it all became clear. For most independent labels, the money was negligible. It was a similar story at the majors. To their horror, the accountants realised that a million streams is only worth between $6,000 to $8,400. That’s if the streaming companies paid up. Some have been reluctant to pay what they were due. Record companies big and small, had backed the wrong horse.

Meanwhile, some independent labels were still flying the flag for vinyl. They released lovingly curated reissues of classic albums and compilations. These releases were released to an audience with an insatiable appetite for vinyl. They didn’t want lossy, compressed music. Instead, they wanted to hear the music as the artist intended. This was on vinyl.

That’s the case with the artists on Girl Zone, which was recently released on vinyl by Ace Records. It’s an addition to Ace Records’ Where The Girls Are series. However, it’s not the next instalment in the series.

Instead, Girl Zone is a musical amuse bouche, to whet the listener’s appetite for the next instalment in the Where The Girls Are series. However, Girl Zone gives no indication of the direction that the Where The Girls Are series is heading. It’s a collection of twelve eclectic tracks.

On Girl Zone, there’s contributions from The Angels, The Darlettes, The Teardrops, The Drake Sisters, The Fashionettes, The Charmaines and The Ikettes. There’s a total of twelve tracks on this slab of delicious 180 gram, heavyweight red lava vinyl. 

The first of these is Reparata and The Delrons’ Panic. It opens side one of Girl Zone. Panic was the B-Side to Saturday Night Didn’t Happen. This was one of two singles Reparata and The Delrons released on Mala, an imprint of Bell Records in 1968. By then, Reparata and The Delrons’ were experienced campaigners. 

Their recording career began in May 1964, when the Delrons released  Your Big Mistake on the Laurie label. After becoming Reparata and The Delrons, they enjoyed success with When A Teenager Cries and Tommy. Four years later, several singles and an album later, Reparata and The Delrons’ lineup had changed. They were popular in Europe, where Bell Records released Saturday Night Didn’t Happen. Those that flipped over to Panic, discovered a melodic, stomper that’s the perfect way to open Girl Zone.

Louie Louie has been an oft-covered track. In 1964, The Angels decided to give the track a makeover for their fourth album, A Halo to You. For some reason, the track wasn’t released as a single. If it had been, it could’ve given The Angels a hit single. It’s a potent combination of garage rock, proto-punk and rock ’n’ roll. Since then, the track has become something of an cult classic.

In 1963, The Darlettes were about to record their sophomore single for Dunes Records. That’s when they came across Here She Comes, which had been penned by Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry. They were one of the hottest songwriting teams. So were Lieber and Stoller, who produced Here She Comes. With such a stellar lineup of songwriters and producers, many forecast great things for The Darlettes’ new single.

When Here She Comes was released, it wasn’t the commercial success many forecast. That’s despite its soulful, poppy sound. . For the Bronx-based trio, this was the end of road. After just two singles, The Darlettes’ recording career was over. However, they bowed out with a song that fifty-two years later, has stood the test of time, Here She Goes.

The Teardrops’ Here Comes Loneliness has been released by Ace Records before. That was back in 1993, as part of the Kent Anniversary Special. It was a welcome rerelease. That’s the case twenty-two years later, when Here Comes Loneliness makes a return on Girl Zone. With its Spector-esque arrangement, and vocals that are tinged with hurt and heartache, it’s good to hear this hidden gem once again. 

Mousie and The Traps only ever released one single, It’s All In The Way (You Look At It Baby). The song was penned by Jim Holvay, and released on the Toddlin’ Town label in July 1968. Sadly, it was a familiar story. It’s All In The Way (You Look At It Baby) failed commercially, and Mousie and The Traps never recorded another single. That’s a pity, given the quality of this hook-laden dancer.

Another group that only released one singles was The Drake Sisters. The group consisted of identical triplets. Their only single was What Did You Do Last Night? It was released in 1964 on the Chattahoochee label. Tucked away on the B-Side was Smoke From Your Cigarette, a soul-searching ballad, with doo wop harmonies. It’s a poignant and beautiful way to close side one of Girl Zone.

Having flipped over to side two of Girl Zone, The Fashionettes’ sassy Losin’ Control bursts into life. Quickly, it takes on a Northern Soul sound. Losin’ Control was penned and produced by Gary Paxton and Dale Davis in 1964. However, it wasn’t until fifty forty years later, in 2004 that Losin’ Control was released as a single by Kent Select. Belatedly, Darlene McKinney and Josephine Rosborough was heard by the audience it deserves. Eleven years later, and Losin’ Control returns for an overdue encore. 

By 1964, The Charmaines were signed to Ohio based Fraternity Records. It had been founded in 1954, by Harry Carlson. Since then, many people had passed through Fraternity Records’ doors. The Charmaines were the latest. They entered the studio with  producer Carl Edmonson and covered Ike Turner’s I Idolize You. However, the song was never released until 2008, when it was released twice.

The first time I Idolize You was released, was on the Kent Soul compilation New Breed R&B With Added Popcorn. That wasn’t the end of story. I Idolize You was also released by on the A-Side of a limited edition single by Kent Soul. After forty-four years languishing in Fraternity Records’ vaults, this heart wrenching ballad had been released twice in one year. 

In 1964, The Angelos were about the record their debut single. The song chosen was Bad Motorcycle (Wooden Wooden). On the B-Side was Backfield In Motion, which was written by Elzie Bynem. He was the brother of The Angelos’ lead singer Linda Martell. Later in 1964, Bad Motorcycle (Wooden Wooden) was released as a single on Tollie Records, and sunk without trace. On reflection, The Angelos had chosen the wrong song. 

If Backfield In Motion had been chosen as the single things would’ve been different? It oozes quality, as Linda Martell accompanied by harmonies, brings this irresistible song to life. It’s a very welcome addition to Girl Zone, and the Where The Girls Are series. 

Just like several groups on Girl Zone, Pat Powdrill and The Powerdrills Together Forever only ever released one single. However, what a single Together Forever was. It was penned by Barry White and Jack Stern. They’re responsible for a joyous paean which was released on the Downey label in 1967. Sadly, the single flopped, and there was no followup.

The Kavetts’ I’ve Got A Story To Tell You is one of the rarest records on the Northern Soul scene. If a copy comes up for sale, it will cost anything up to $325. I’ve Got A Story To Tell You was released on the Len-Dre label in 1963. Although the single failed commercially, it later became a favourite in the UK Northern Soul. Its addition on Girl Zone will be welcomed by many within the Northern Soul fraternity.

Closing side two of Girl Zone, is The Ikettes’ Camel Walk. Penned by Ike Turner, Camel Walk was the B-Side to The Ikettes’ 1964 single Nobody Loves Me. It was released on Modern. Those that flipped over to the B-Side found a storming version of the Camel Walk. It’s the perfect way to close Girl Zone, as it leaves the listener wanting more.

For those in need of their next fix of the Where The Girls Are series, then Girl Zone is just what they’ve been waiting for. This eclectic, twelve-track musical amuse bouche is sure to whet their appetite.

There’s contributions from The Angels, The Darlettes, The Teardrops, The Drake Sisters, The Fashionettes, The Charmaines and The Ikettes on Girl Zone. It was recently released on a slab of delicious 180 gram, heavyweight red lava vinyl. It’s like a work of art, and seems almost too good to play. However, having lowered the stylus onto the red lava vinyl, pop, soul and garage rock come blasting out of speakers. Suddenly, it’s the sixties again. 

While the twelve tracks on Girl Zone are the biggest hits you’ll ever hear, you’ll surely want to hear them again. Compiler Mick Patrick has put together twelve tantalising tracks for Girl Zone, a delicious musical amuse bouche for fans hungry for the next instalment in the Where The Girls Are series.













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