The beautiful cover photo that graces this masterpiece was--interestingly enough--used in at least a couple of reissues, one of which is...
...this great 2004 CD released by Eric Records (click it to go to their site), featuring all the songs from the LP above. Actually, this is a much-improved variation on the original cover shot, with more obvious color variations--especially on the girls' hair. Plus, Priscilla looks like she's in a more pleasant mood.
This amazing 1967 Reprise LP, "The Paris Sisters Sing Everything Under The Sun!!!", could easily be considered one of the decade's greatest achievements as far as girl group music was concerned. Although Phil Spector had no part in its creation (it was produced by Jack Nitzsche and Jimmy Bowen), Priscilla's unmistakable lead vocal style that Spector had embraced earlier, plus some spectacular instrumental backup which, to at least some individuals, could rival Spector's trademark sound, was used to great effect here. Nearly half the songs were penned by Priscilla herself, and three of them--"My Good Friend", "Too Good To Be True" and "You"--were lively, uptempo compositions which still managed to mesh well with the girls' unique vocalizing.
Also featured on the album were a trio of cover tunes: "Sincerely", made famous by The McGuire Sisters, the Lesley Gore smash "It's My Party"--both given the full-tilt Paris Sisters slow, ballad-like, breathy vocal treatment--and "Some Of Your Lovin' ", originally recorded by Dusty Springfield, which was a beautifully-executed composition presented as a slow-paced, romantic-sounding ballad although the lyrics seemed to suggest a different message altogether. Another song, "Born To Be With You", was an ideal choice to wind up the set on Side Two of the original vinyl disc, judging by it's overall feel and climactic finish.
By comparison, the Eric Records reissue (pictured at the top of this page) is a far superior product. The cover photo features truer and more defined color variances, and is actually a different shot, with Priscilla on the left instead of the right, and sporting a much more cheerful expression. It's part of a 16-page book full of b/w and color photos--some from the collections of Sherell and Albeth Paris--and a fully-detailed history of the group's highs and lows, as recounted by Greg Adams. As for the disc itself, which consists only of the original ten cuts from the Reprise LP and eschews the "bonus" tracks found on the Marginal effort which can likely be found elsewhere, a lot of exhaustive and painstaking work went into Eric's remastering of each track from the original source tapes. The entire project was clearly a labor of love, and the sound quality of every single track reflects this fact: these are, across the board, the best stereo versions of the original Reprise cuts one is likely to experience...positively blowing away the appropriately named Marginal versions.
This is one of the group's most coveted LPs in today's collectors' market.
(Courtesy of Ian Slater)
Two more LPs followed--"The Golden Hits Of The Paris Sisters" and "The Paris Sisters Sing From The Glass House". "Golden Hits" deserves special mention here because--as some purist fans who bought either the original LP (on the Sidewalk label) or the new CD re-release on the Curb label called "The Best Of The Paris Sisters" have discovered--the title is disturbingly misleading. It contains absolutely NONE of their actual Gregmark singles despite the inclusion of "I Love How You Love Me" and "He Knows I Love Him Too Much" which are differently arranged and performed "alternate" versions of the original hits, recorded either before or after the hit versions came out.
But I must also be honest in another way: I have a mono version of the Sidewalk LP (it was also in stereo, as presumably is the Curb reissue), and I DO enjoy many of the cuts on it, even if they aren't "Golden Hits". My personal favorites include "Won't You Help Me", "I Don't Even Care" and, yes, the non-hit version of "He Knows I Love Him Too Much". Perhaps if this release had been given a title like "The Lost Gems Of The Paris Sisters" or "The Paris Sisters--From Mellow To Swingin!", it might have been given a nod of approval from those who feel any Paris Sisters LP with "Best Of" or "Golden Hits" in the title should include the Phil Spector-ized version of their signature hit or anything else that actually charted.
The "Glass House" LP featured even more alternate versions...of songs from "Golden Hits"! Having heard it a couple of times, I can attest to the fact that there are differences between the way "Together" and "Won't You Help Me" sound here and on "Golden Hits". To add to the confusion, the title of the latter song is abbreviated to "Help Me", which should not be confused with Priscilla's solo number from the later "Priscilla Sings Herself" LP. And finally, "There's So Much About My Baby (That I Love)" is nothing more than an ersatz ripoff, tune-wise, of "I Love How You Love Me".
In 1968 they cut a single for the GNP Crescendo label which seemed to suggest that their time had passed. "Stand Naked, Clown" featured effective vocals by Priscilla and the others, but faded out at the end with a maudlin-sounding violin solo playing the operatic piece of music which affectionados of late-1960s TV commercials have come to associate with the anguished lyrics "No more Rice Krispies!/We've run out of Rice Krispies!"
The flip side may have represented the group's nadir: a cover version of the theme song to a new ABC-TV sitcom, The Ugliest Girl In Town, which debuted in the fall of 1968 and disappeared at the end of the following January*. On top of this, there was occasional emotional discord between the girls, and the final one-two punch that rang down the curtain on The Paris Sisters: Priscilla's solo singing career which began in 1967, and Albeth's later pregnancy.
*The Ugliest Girl In Town was the latest in a long line of TV sitcoms produced by Screen Gems (currently doing business as Sony Pictures Televsion) whose distinction was an implausible gimmick of some sort. In this one, Peter Kastner starred as a Hollywood agent who fell in love with an English actress. When she flew back to London and the agent found he couldn't afford to fly there himself, his fashion-photographer brother whose pictures had been destroyed dressed him in drag, snapped a few pictures and sent him there with the photos. While in London seeking his idol, our hero is "discovered" by the local fashion-finders and is proclaimed THE new face in the world of mod fashion, and now must lead a double life and keep his "secret" in order to be near his love and be able to fly for free to and from England. Bosom Buddies this wasn't.
PRISCILLA ON HER OWN
Although still performing and recording with Albeth and Sherell, Priscilla decided to record her first solo LP, "Priscilla Sings Herself", in 1967. Though no longer personally involved in her singing career, Phil Spector supplied some favorable liner notes for the back cover. The album's best song was the first on Side One, "He Noticed Me", which rightfully became a single release.
In 1969, Priscilla's second solo album was released, a musical tribute to blues legend Billie Holiday. Before Diana Ross (who was about to leave The Supremes) portrayed Lady Day on the big screen, and long before those such as Carly Simon and Linda Ronstadt released their own collections of torchy ballads and old standards, Priscilla's breathy vocalizing was put to effective use here, backed by an appropriately lush-sounding orchestra. To my ears, her version of "Crazy He Calls Me" is actually better than Ronstadt's. The cover portrait of Priscilla was equally gorgeous, but there was one noticeable error in the title and used throughout the liner notes: Billie's first name was misspelled as "Billy"! Whether this was an obvious and unchecked mistake, or the spelling was changed intentionally to try and avoid any hint of a questionable mate-preference linked to Priscilla--the album was titled "Priscilla Loves Billy"--the inescapable notion that fans of Ms. Holliday were outraged by the misspelling remains.
A captivating cover for a captivating album...if you can overlook the spelling error in Ms. Holiday's first name.
Nearly a decade later in 1978, Priscilla's third and final solo LP, "Love Is...Priscilla Paris" was released. This album and "Priscilla Sings Herself" are much harder to find today than the Billie Holiday LP. Some time later, all three sisters sought work in and out of the music business. Priscilla moved to Paris (hmmm...) and Sherell eventually found work as Bob Barker's executive assistant on The Price Is Right: she was let go from the game show in 2001.
Sherrell Paris circa 2001, still looking great today.
On previous visits to this page, you may have read how I had hoped Priscilla, Sherell and Albeth would get together and perform again on the nostalgia circuit. Unhappily, it shall never happen, not in mine or anyone else's town. On the evening of Friday, March 5, 2004, Priscilla Paris unexpectedly and sadly passed away in Paris, France at the age of just 59. Word of this tragedy was noticably slow to get out, but it's unfortunately true; in fact, a memorial tribute penned by Sherell and Albeth concludes the contents of the book that accompanies the Eric Records CD.
How ironic that "the baby of the group"--as Casey Kasem referred to Priscilla in his liner notes for the initial Reprise vinyl release of "The Paris Sisters Sing Everything Under The Sun!!!", should be the first of the trio to leave us. At a time in our lives when we appear to be losing a fair number of show business icons we grew up loving and cherishing, for Priscilla Paris to be among them was certainly an unexpected and severe blow to lovers of "the girl-group sound" as we all want to remember it.
We still, thankfully, have the records and CDs to sustain us somewhat. But it still pains me deeply that Priscilla left this planet way too soon with seemingly no warning, before I would have had the chance to thank her personally for the tremendous talent she had to offer during her career. With her untimely passing, a truly unique voice in music history is now stilled.
Priscilla Paris: She had the voice of an angel...and now, she herself is one.