Friday, February 11, 2005


You'd Best Believe I'm In Love (L-U-V)

by Glenn Cripes

What's this in my review package from nick this week? Hell's bells! It's a 45 with a picture sleeve! nick knows how much I love 45 picture sleeves. These are really little time capsules of a better musical era--check it out:

I've heard so much about The Shangs (as they are known by their true fans) over the years. In some pictures there are three of them, and other pictures show four of them. I read somewhere that the lineup changed from time to time because one of them was usually pregnant, and another one of them died tragically from a drug overdose on the lower east side of Manhattan in the early seventies. Steven Tyler of Aerosmith once said that he'd crawl over broken glass in pig shit just to hear one of the Shangs pee in a paper cup over the phone.

Nice Girls or..................................................Cycle Sluts?

I usually know everything about stuff like this, but I was a little in the dark as to the facts, so I hit the net* for info on these fine foxes. Here's the deal--

The Shangs all hailed from Queens (where else) NY. We're talking two sets of sisters here.

The Ganser Twins--Mary Ann and Margie
The Weiss sisters--Mary and Betty

Mary Weiss was the lead singer with the sultry voice. Betty Weiss and the Ganser twins took turns touring with the group, leaving Mary as the true blue always there Shang.

As it turns out, none of them were ever pregnant during the Las' golden hit years. Betty Weiss sung on the records but didn't tour with them at first. Later on Margie jumped the tour ship and Betty rejoined, but all recordings were cut by the four. Also the girls were kind of forced into the 'bad girl' image after Leader of the Pack hit it big. So, Shangri Las--nice girls/not sluts.

Mary Ann Ganser died from a seizure of some sort in 1970. The other 3 performed together for the last time at Palisades Park in 1989.

L to R--Betty, Margie, and Mary

Margie Ganser passed away in 1996 from breast cancer.


Let's get back to the song here. The producer George 'Shadow' Morton has quite the resume. Remember (Walking In The Sand) by The Shangs was Morton's first hit record. He went on to produce Janis Ian's debut Society's Child, Vanilla Fudge, and he also worked with The Blues Project, Jimi Hendrix, The Young Rascals, Laura Nyro and The New York Dolls. Morton originally had another one of his groups 'The Bunnies' in mind for Leader of the Pack, but the record company wisely responded with a resounding 'yeah, right' at the idea, so Morton got the Las into the studio, and Vrooooom! A record is born.

'Shadow' Morton back in the day

The song is credited to Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry, and Shadow Morton, but Morton to this day maintains that he wrote it by himself. Ellie Greenwich rolls her eyes at the assertation, and it's safe to assume that the Greenwich/Barry team did the heavy lifting tune-wise.

Old 'Shadow' was a bugger for the bottle, but a great producer. Listen to the cardboard boxes being banged in the chorus of Give Him a Great Big Kiss and tell me that isn't genius. Morton did the Betty Ford thing and now he's back doing music about um....God and recovery.

'Shadow' today

Girls were somehow sexier in the it's all tattoos and buttcracks.

*Thanks to John J. Greco's "Out In The Streets' piece I found on the web, and Richard Arfin for his 'Shadow' Morton interview originally printed in Goldmine.

great stuff! love it!
Great. Really brought back memories for me. I went to the same high school as the Shangs...Andrew Jackson H.S. in Cambria Heights, Queens, N.Y. I also ran around with the same crowd as they did when we were teenagers. I actually have an old reel-to-reel tape of the girls singing "Wishing Well" that I recorded in Mary and Betty's basement back in 1963.
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