Not to be confused with the double-CD compilation of the same title, this five-CD set contains everything that Lesley Gore cut for Mercury Records between 1963 and 1969. Gore's first single, "It's My Party," doesn't resemble the less distinctive songs from that same session; but once she had "It's My Party" down, Gore never looked back. Whether covering standards, helping put neophyte songwriter Marvin Hamlisch
on the map, or adding to Carole King
and Gerry Goffin's
string of successes, Gore and her producers put a special stamp on everything that followed -- her enunciation was as distinctive as the sound of her voice. It's difficult to pick high points from Disc Two, the prime of Gore's career, when she was starting to sound like a woman rather than a girl. Disc Three shows her doing more mature songs with a very different, more assertive sound, courtesy of producer Jack Nitzsche. All of the Nitzsche sessions have a peculiarly soulful feel that was new to Gore's output; the Shelby Singleton
sessions make up most of the second half of the disc. Alas, Gore did no recording at all in 1966, partly due to her desire to complete her education, and the lapse shows in this set -- when she re-emerged in 1967, she lost a little bit of immediacy, as well as lots of relevance. The material from Disc Four covers this tail end of Gore's commercial career, including her last big hit, "California Nights," as well as a handful of unreleased tracks from the never-issued Magic Colors
album. The opening of Disc Five shows Gore moving into a more sophisticated pop-rock mode, close to what Carole King would succeed with a couple of years later. Unfortunately, nobody was listening to Gore by this time, and her performing career came to a halt with the end of the 1960s. The major part of this last disc is given over to Gore's foreign-language recordings of her own hits. The box comes complete with a nicely illustrated and annotated booklet, with an engaging essay that suffers from a few gaps in the narrative of her career.