There’s a hole in our collective hearts where America’s Sweetheart meets Queer Icon Lesley Gore doesn’t exist anymore. Since she passed away last year, not much has been done to cover the scope of her art or activism. It’s to be remembered that within 9 months time, with her hit records she went from petulant teenager to proto-feminist as the trajectory between “It’s My Party” and “You Don’t Own Me” dictates.
Another piece to relay is that quite often, by being attached to the Girl Group phenom, she more often was attached to R&B trends than straightforward Pop tides. “It’s My Party” and a great deal of her output for Mercury through the end of 1965 was overseen by no other than Quincy Jones. Quite a few of her pursuits paid proper homage to what The Supremes, Martha & The Vandellas and Dionne Warwick were doing alongside her.
So it should come at no surprise, as her chart fortunes really started to slip in the late 1960’s that she was paired with Gamble and Huff. A year before they became the stewarts of where Dusty should travel after Memphis, they gave Lesley a dosage of Philly Soul to liven up and detour her away from the doldrums of MOR irrelevancy.
The auditory results found here on “Look The Other Way” are some of the finest results of her later career. One mistake, obviously, was burying this brilliant burner that finds Lesley getting grittier than anyone possibly thought on the B-side of this November of ’68 release. Mercury tried to right the wrongs when the next effort from these sessions “Take Good Care Of My Heart” was released as the A-side 3 months later, but the experiment proved not conducive to hit making. As Lesley said in 20/20 hindsight, that had more to do with Mercury giving less that a damn about her later output in the first place than with the quality of the material. I’m liable to agree, and encourage you to get in touch with the many magic colors of Lesley Gore’s rainbow.