Along with the Shirelles and the Ronettes, the Shangri-Las were among the greatest girl groups; if judged solely on the basis of attitude, they were the greatest of them all. They combined an innocent adolescent charm with more than a hint of darkness, singing about dead bikers, teenage runaways, and doomed love affairs as well as ebullient high-school crushes. These could be delivered with either infectious, handclapping harmonies or melodramatic, almost operatic recitatives that were contrived but utterly effective.
The surprising thing about K-Tel's staggering ten-disc box set burdened with the title Ultimate History of Rock & Roll is that it actually approaches delivering on its huge promise. Of course, a collection of this sort of any size is immediately sunk by lacking the presence of Elvis Presley or virtually any British act (only the Troggs and Tornadoes leap to mind). The focus here is on early rock & roll and rockabilly (Little Richard, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chubby Checker, Duane Eddy), the girl groups (the Angels, the Shirelles, the Shangri-Las, Lesley Gore, the Dixie Cups, the Chiffons) and an almost overwhelming concentration on the R&B side of rock (the Coasters, the Drifters, the Platters, the Del-Vikings, Ben E. King, the Clovers, the Duprees, the Olympics, the Penguins). Also well-represented is the increasingly white-bread '60s pop/rock artists: the Beach Boys, the Turtles, the Ventures, and the Association. For fans of the above types of music, Ultimate History of Rock & Roll is an immensely rewarding set which delivers with all the best tracks from the biggest artists. Just don't expect to find "Heartbreak Hotel" or "Can't Buy Me Love."
Back in 2006 on a stormy December night, Amy Winehouse flew to the remote, south western corner of Ireland to perform for Other Voices, an acclaimed Irish TV music series filmed in Dingle every winter. Amy took to the stage of Saint James's church, capacity 85, and wowed the small, packed crowd with a searing, acoustic set of songs from Back to Black. After leaving the stage, a relaxed and happy Amy spoke about her music and influences - Mahalia Jackson, Sarah Vaughan, Ray Charles and the Shangri-Las to name a few. Arena joined forces with Other Voices and went to Dingle to catch up with some of the people that Amy met on that day, including taxi driver Paddy Kennedy, her bass player Dale Davis and Rev Mairt Hanley of the Other Voices church. This film showcases not only Amy herself, but the musical geniuses that inspired her to forge her own jazz pop style.
Def Leppard dove into the classic-albums-in-their-entirety trend via an 11-date residency at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas, performing 1987's Hysteria from start to finish, adding other classic hits to round out the set. More interestingly, taking a tip from Joe Elliott's Mott the Hoople tribute side project the Down 'n' Outz, Def Leppard opened for themselves, performing as Ded Flatbird and running through rarities and early hits that they have rarely played live in the years since becoming superstars…