Lesley Gore

It's My PartyI'll Cry If I Want To
She's A FoolSings Of Mixed-Up Hearts
You Don't Own MeSings Of Mixed-Up Hearts
The Old CrowdSings Of Mixed-Up Hearts
I'm Coolin', No Foolin'Boys, Boys, Boys
Maybe I KnowGirl Talk
Look Of LoveGirl Talk
Little Girl Go HomeGirl Talk
California NightsCalifornia Nights
Magic ColorsMagic Colors CD

Lesley Gore photo



Lesley Gore playlist



Contributor: Merric Davidson

Nobody knows where my Johnny has gone
Judy left the same time
Why was he holding her hand
When he’s supposed to be mine?

That is a very good question. How could he do that? What a cad, and as for Judy. Blimey. Have a heart.

I was 15 when I first heard this song and felt so sorry for our narrator. Fancy throwing a party, having a real good time, then crying buckets after everyone’s gone. No, it just wasn’t fair. Luckily, just a couple of months later it was Judy’s Turn To Cry and I, for one, was mighty glad about that.

Quoting from the liner notes to The Mercury Anthology: “When she walked through the doors of Bell Sound Studios in New York City at 2pm on the afternoon of March 30 1963, Lesley Gore had no idea the next three hours would change her life forever. The material included two songs composed by Paul Anka, a Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, and a new tune by three songwriters who worked for publisher Aaron Schroeder … ”

It’s My Party (producer Quincy Jones, engineer Phil Ramone, flip side Danny written by Anka) has a fascinating pre-history and an extraordinary aftermath as version after version hit the charts, internationally. The song was originally recorded by the UK’s very own female superstar of the early sixties, Helen Shapiro, but it didn’t come out until after Lesley’s version, a bit of a cock up by the look of things. It’s My Party is, simply put, one of the great pop songs. Danny hasn’t lasted quite so well.

After that smash US No.1 (UK #9) Lesley had her pick of the new songs and a string of hits in the States, though she had to wait another year for her only other UK chart entry, the superb Maybe I Know. She was well served in the songwriting department; The Old Crowd is Goffin & King, Maybe I Know and Look Of Love are Greenwich & Barry and all three easily find their way into this toppermost selection.

Then there’s the feminist anthem of modern times, but recorded way back in 1964, You Don’t Own Me. Watch Lesley blasting it out on the legendary TAMI Show competiting for attention with major stars on the bill such as the Beach Boys and James Brown. Lesley gives it her all: “Don’t tell me what to say and please when I go out with you don’t put me on display. You don’t own me …”

However, in spite of all these groovy greats, after Party my favourite of all the Quincy Jones produced songs is one that Lesley Gore penned herself; I’m Coolin’, No Foolin’ is an exceptional pop song, exquisite and exciting. All the ‘e’s. Also from the same year, 1964, Little Girl Go Home wouldn’t sound out of place on a Shangri-Las record.

By summer 1965, Jones had departed for pastures new – movie soundtracks. It was tough without him. Lesley went on to record the California Nights album (1967) produced by Bob Crewe, title track written by Marvin Hamlisch. It’s another topper track, see jaw-dropping, and very pink, footage from the classic Batman TV series with Lesley as Pussycat singing the title track, California Nights.

Magic Colors, made with members of The Wrecking Crew in Hollywood with top producers and material from major songwriters, was another album scheduled for release in 1967 right at the height of the Summer of Love, but sadly the single didn’t trouble the pop charts and so Mercury pulled the album. Incredible really. Magic Colors was eventually released as a CD a couple of years ago and is represented here by the title track written by Neil Sedaka and Howie Greenfield. It’s a fine song and Lesley gives it her all but I guess it was swamped by all the other great singles of that extraordinary year.

Even though Lesley Gore has continued to record and is still touring, her star had faded and this selection has to come from those glory years of the sixties. I’d like to have included her 1968 Gamble & Huff production, I’ll Be Standing By, but she clearly wasn’t too comfortable with the Philly soul sound. Also, it would have been good to have gone with one of her mid-70s singles, Immortality (which I was surprised to find I own) but, despite production from a returning Quincy Jones, it wasn’t a return to form.

This Topper Ten is in chronological order. There are some good compilation CDs where you’ll find most of these songs, and all 150 tracks that she made for Mercury in the 60s are on the It’s My Party 5CD box set, pricey but nicey!

Lesley Gore, top pop superstar – she’s not just one of your many toys!



Lesley Gore (1946-2015)


Lesley Gore International Fan Club

Lesley Gore biography (AllMusic)

Merric Davidson is a retired publisher who started this site in 2013. He tweets toppermost @AgeingRaver.

TopperPost #110

1 Comment

  1. Peter Viney
    Oct 29, 2013

    I’m such a sucker for follow-ups and answer discs that Judy’s Turn To Cry would have been written in right away between It’s My Party and You Don’t Own Me. I didn’t know about the Quincy Jones connection. Magic Colours is a “Smile” style recreation of a cancelled album, in that the CD is the only artefact in existence and adds the other tracks from around that era. I wasn’t following Lesley Gore at all back then, but a decade or so ago I was swapping CDs with a collector in New York state, and mentioned my love of Bob Crewe productions. It turned out he avidly collected Lesley Gore and sent me a CD he’d made up of her Bob Crewe sessions on Mercury and on the Crewe label, plus some alleged Bob Crewe ones including 1966 Coca Cola commercials. Then he sent me a CD copy of his original vinyl “Someplace Else Now” her album on Mowest from 1972, produced by John Porter. Lesley wrote or co-wrote all the tracks. It’s what was described when I did lights on variety shows as “grown up popular music” a category including any Burt Bacharach song. As far as I can discover, it was never released in the UK, nor is a CD available. You can hear a couple on YouTube such as “The Road I Walk” and “She Said That” which was the American single. It’s so obscure that the Mowest label retrospective doesn’t even mention her and “She Said That” is missing from the Complete Motown Singles 1972. Mowest was Motown’s new label introduced on their move to LA, with artists like Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, Odyssey and Syreeta. Lesley Gore is exceptional in having no soul relationship. The obvious comparisons are later Dusty Springfield, or Carole King. Anyway, talk about “magic legendary lost albums” and this is the other Lesley Gore one. At least The Road I Walk deserves to be a Toppermost, but I guess is so hard to get, except on YouTube, that it’s relegated.

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