In January of 1944, Michele Ann Marie Fabares was born in St Monica, California. Better known as Shelley Fabares, the 14-year old actress’s national profile was boosted in 1958 when she was cast as Mary Stone in the American sitcom The Donna Reed Show. Her exposure to a burgeoning teen market, and the rise of Ozzie and Harriet’s Ricky Nelson, lead to a subsequent singing career.
Continuing Bear Family Records‘ 11000 series of reissues of rare and hard to find vinyl, they turn their attention to a 10-inch Japanese version of Fabares’ debut album. Originally released on the Colpix/Jet label in 1962, it featured ten songs including her most well-known song Johnny Angel. Is this limited edition reissue of Shelley! worth picking up?
Produced and arranged by Stu Phillips, Shelley Fabares performs a selection of songs drenched in the Pop flavour of that moment. Backed by lush orchestration and the recognisable voices of The Blossoms, this album is a relaxing venture into a bygone era. Tracks like Johnny Angel, Picnic, Hi-LiLi, Hi-Lo, Love Letters and Boy Of My Own are pleasant recordings with an easy listening slant, while the upbeat tempos of It’s Been a Long Long Time and Funny Face provide real moments of singalong jollity; The former an inventive update of a crooning classic. Fabares’ voice isn’t always the strongest, but the material coupled with the recording production makes it work.
In addition to the original tracklisting, two contemporaneous bonus tracks have been added to the end of each side. Where’s It Gonna Get Me was the B-Side Johnny Angel and included on other versions of the album. Fabares’ cover of Johnny Get Angry was released as a single in 1963. The inclusion of both tracks as a bonus provides extra value to the package.
Given the age and scarcity of the material, this record, presented in a 1960s era stereo mix, sounds as good as can be expected.
A Little Something Extra…
Previous entries into this series have been meticulously researched and compiled, and this is no exception. The record is presented in a nicely printed sleeve that features the vibrant album artwork. The reverse features a layout resembling the original, including Japanese text, lyrics in English and a tracklisting. The record, presented in a lively blue colour, features a label closely mimicking the style of the 1962 release. It also comes with a postcard with a photograph of Shelley from 1965.
- Johnny Angel
- Love Letters
- True Love
- Boy Of My Own
- BONUS: Where’s It Gonna Get Me
- Johnny Loves Me
- It’s Been A Long, Long Time
- Funny Face
- I’m Growing Up
- Hi-LiLi, Hi-Lo
- BONUS: Johnny Get Angry
Bear Family Records has provided a nice alternative for those seeking to own a rare piece of record history.
Those looking for a cheaper entry into Fabares’ catalogue, may want to look at the many CD compilations currently available.