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Mary Weiss

Dangerous Game (Norton Records)

Even by '60s-girl-group standards, the Shangri-Las' catalog was dark: Hearts were broken, families shattered, and everyone died. No wonder rumors have swirled ever since the "Leader of the Pack" ladies called it quits in 1969; save for a couple of one-off reunion gigs and a cameo on Aerosmith's cover of "Remember (Walkin' in the Sand)," lead singer Mary Weiss, who seemed nigh indestructible as a teen, fell completely off the radar in adulthood. Until now.

Weiss' voice remains as instantly recognizable as Ronnie Spector's, but while the primary emotion conveyed by the latter's pipes has often been joy, Weiss has always favored heart-stopping wails of tragedy. Wisely, on Dangerous Game, she explores a wider range of sentiments. And because the tough, kiss-off ditties ("I Don't Care," "Don't Come Back") outnumber displays of masochism, it renders the sprinkling of tearjerkers even more affecting. Rather than simply rehashing her classic sound, at 58 the singer — accompanied by garage rockers the Reigning Sound — picks up where she might have had she kept recording after the Shangri-Las dissolved. "Stitch in Time" marks a winsome foray into folk-rock, while the title track, complete with cocktail-lounge organ, flirts with mellow soul. Although the originals, mostly penned by RS guitarist Greg Cartwright, are rarely as immediately catchy as her classic Brill Building sides, Weiss makes the most of them. Fans always knew Mary Weiss was a star and a talent, but Dangerous Game finally showcases her as an artist.

 
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