Titling their album The Whole Shebang seems something of a stretch for an outfit that’s found a singular niche, but credit singer Charlie Faye and her backing group the Fayettes (consisting of individually accredited vocalists Bettysoo and Akina Adderly) with emulating a vintage style circa the ‘60s and ‘70s. As their handle implies, the trio mines the sound and substance of various girl groups of that era—Ronnie Spector and her Ronettes, the Shangri-Las, the Shirelles, and of course, the Supremes—with story songs and harmonies that pay tribute to the timeless ideals of romance, devotion and teenage innocence.
At least as it appears in theory.
Faye’s made it a point to suggest that while they still hold to their pop precepts, they’ve moved up the timeline to touch on subjects that accompanied women’s greater awareness and social concerns that came to the fore in the decade that followed. Consequently, there are certain songs—“I Don’t Need No Baby,” “You Gotta Give It Up (Party Song)” and “Baby We’ll Be OK”—that suggest the intrusion of real world circumstance also weighs heavy on their hearts. Granted, the sprightly rhythms (propelled by Elvis Costello’s longtime drummer Pete Thomas) and consistent chirpy harmonies moot most of the serious intent, but Faye’s former life as a folkie singer/songwriter gives her greater insight than most.
Still, chances are, most listeners won’t be swayed by any sentiments other than the giddy vibe that’s imbued in each of the album’s 12 tracks, from the spunky beat of “1-2-3-4” and the snappy set-up of “The Cream Rises to the Top” to the dandified doo-wop that inspires “Tonight’s the Night” and the caress and croon of “That’s What New Love Is For.”
It’s to Faye’s credit that she had a hand in writing all the songs, which, as stated before, all sound like classic compositions of a certain standard. So while Faye and her Fayettes may simply be interested in emulating an ideal, there’s ample reason to appreciate their escapist entertainment as well.