Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Bobbettes

Enter the girl groups. One book I read labeled The Shirelles the first girl group. Another book said that it was The Chantels. Well, The Chantels were there first, but The Bobbettes were there before either.

Now, let’s not get confused. We’ve had plenty of girl groups: The Chordettes, The Fontane Sisters, The McGuire Sisters, The DeCastro Sisters, The Lennon Sisters. All those groups, though, were Andrews Sisters wannabes, and they belonged to a different generation.

The new generation came up through the New York and Detroit and Chicago independent labels, through Brill Building songwriters, though Phil Spector. The Bobbettes didn’t quite fit the mold, they were peppier, more direct R & B, but they were young, they were up-to-date, and they were girls.

Mr. Lee came off the Atlantic Rhythm And Blues, 1947 – 1974 compilation, and I Shot Mr. Lee was directly off the single. It happens that there is only one Bobbettes CD available on Amazon; it’s called Ultimate Collection, it was released on Titanic Records (!), there is no track listing, and there is no way to know whether the tracks are the original recordings, which, given that the grouip had hits on Atlantic, on Triple-X, and on Gone, is highly unlikely. Amazon doesn’t sell it; it is only available from resellers. Not much respect for the “first girl group.”

The Bobbettes:

Mr. Lee – This is silly. It’s a song that the members of The Bobbettes wrote about their high school principal. It’s the kind of thing that all students do in every high school, but these gals actually put their razzing on the charts. A top 10 hit in the fall of 1957.
I Shot Mr. Lee – Oh boy, this is where it turns sinister. This sequel to Mr. Lee was released about 3 years after the latter, by which time the group seems to have been turfed by Atlantic. Surely one of the few songs about murder to reach the top 100, and that was in the summer of 1960.

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