Where the Boys Are
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  • Liner Note Author: Mick Patrick.
  • Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield formed one of the most successful Brill Building songwriting teams, and as a solo artist, Sedaka was by far the most successful of the Brill Building songwriters who released records under their own name in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Yet they haven't quite achieved the critical respect accorded to Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, and Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman. This 25-song compilation of 1958-1971 recordings written by the pair (some of them by Sedaka or Greenfield with other partners) won't change that, but it's ample demonstration of their talents as commercial and usually worthwhile pop/rock composers, even though it doesn't have any of Sedaka's numerous big hits. Instead, like Ace's other anthologies devoted to outstanding '60s songwriters, it mixes hits with flops and rarities by a wide variety of artists. While that means it doesn't collect all of their most significant work, it does give a representative sampling of the wide scope of their tunes when the writers were in their prime.
  • A few of these songs were big hits, particularly Connie Francis' "Stupid Cupid" and "Where the Boys Are"; the Everly Brothers' "Crying in the Rain" (written by Greenfield with Carole King), and Gene Pitney's "It Hurts to Be in Love" (written by Greenfield with Helen Miller). A few were less impressive modest hits, like Jimmy Clanton's "Another Sleepless Night," LaVern Baker's ballad "I Waited Too Long," and Clyde McPhatter's "Since You've Been Gone." Some of the other selections are fairly forgettable period pop, but Ace makes things interesting by including some little-known versions of songs that were hits by others. "Fallin'" (a hit for Connie Francis) in particular improves in the hands of the more talented and rockin' Wanda Jackson, and while the Cookies' "Foolish Little Girl" (a hit for the Shirelles), Carole King's "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" (a chart-topper for Sedaka himself), and Dee Dee Sharp's "Calendar Boy" (a hit for Sedaka as "Calendar Girl") aren't in the same class as the more familiar versions, they make a welcome change from hearing the same old smashes again. Also of interest is Little Anthony & the Imperials' take on "The Diary," which was originally written for them before it became a hit for Sedaka.
  • Mixed in with songs that usually stick to the lighter side of early-'60s pop/rock are the odd, worthwhile, overlooked quality efforts (Dionne Warwick's "Get Rid of Him") and a few cuts that show them adapting to the changing '60s times with reasonable success, like Lesley Gore's 1967 single "Magic Colors." Of special note is Patti Drew's 1968 Top 40 R&B hit version of "Workin' on a Groovy Thing" (written by Sedaka with Roger Atkins), which predates the Fifth Dimension's more famous hit version, and proves that Sedaka could write in a credibly soulful vein. While a Sedaka best-of is necessary to get a full sense of his and Greenfield's contributions, this has its share of memorable tunes too. Ace's customarily excellent liner notes feature numerous comments from a first-hand 2011 interview with Sedaka himself. ~ Richie Unterberger
Professional Reviews
Record Collector (magazine) (p.105) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "Sedaka developed skills for capturing the essence of contemporary hits and recycling them as something new..."
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