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You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry

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Album Review

It's likely this 25-track compilation — titled You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry on the front cover, and simply The Caravelles on the spine — isn't authorized, as it includes virtually no track information other than song titles and composer credits. Still, it's the best — and perhaps only — anthology of material by this one-shot British female duo, who actually issued more records in the 1960s than most listeners realize. The first 12 tracks are identical to those that appeared on their sole U.S. LP (1963's You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry), including the hit title cut and other less memorable numbers in the same style. But the songs from that LP aren't bad, all bearing their distinctive breathy, almost whispered harmony vocals and eerily sparse production combining light jazz-pop with Shadows-styled guitar. Too, it's impressive that Caravelles Lois Wilkinson and Andrea Simpson also wrote some of the LP's better songs, though on the whole the record owed as much to pre-rock pop as the girl group sound. Also on the CD are 13 other tracks, mostly drawn from the numerous post-"You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry" singles they issued on an assortment of labels between 1963 and 1968, although it doesn't have everything (the 1966 folk-rock single "Hey Mama You've Been on My Mind" and its B-side "New York" being notable absentees). Their fetching, shyly sexy style of vocal harmonies remained intact on all of these, though it's unsurprising that the tracks that followed the "You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry" model didn't meet with success, as that approach was quickly becoming outmoded in the wake of the explosion of British beat groups. Again, the Wilkinson-Simpson team came up with some decent tunes on a few of these releases, "I Like a Man," "How Can I Be Sure," and the jazzy "Georgia Boy" being standouts. Too, they occasionally showed signs of keeping up with the times, edging toward a more conventional rock-influenced girl group sound on efforts like "I Depend on You" and the Merseybeat-girl group hybrids "I Like a Man" and "How Can I Be Sure." In sum, the discs shows the Caravelles to be a more worthwhile, talented act than many assume, and it's to be hoped they'll eventually be honored with a more properly packaged and annotated CD reissue.


Formed: 1963 in England

Genre: Traditional Pop

Years Active: '60s

A female duo consisting of Lois Wilkinson and Andrea Simpson from London, England, whose peak recording period was from 1963 to 1968. They were co-workers who entertained at office parties and amateur shows. Encouraged by co-workers to cut a record, they did a demo of "You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry," a tune they discovered on the back of Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons." They named themselves the Caravelles after the French airliner. A local company, BPR Records, liked the demo and redid...
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