Donna Loren was one of the faces of the 1960s, a young woman with an interesting albeit brief career, from being a model for Dr. Pepper, a dancer on Shindig!, and appearing in several “beach” movies, most notably Beach Blanket Bingo. Unsurprisingly, then, an attempt was made to turn the already-talented young woman into a pop star. Signing to Capitol Records, she released a handful of singles, as well as a sole pop album, all of which are compiled on These Are The Good Times.
It instantly hits the listener that the three minute format of a forty-five record suited Loren quite naturally. The nineteen single sides presented here are wonderful “pocket symphonies” that benefitted from the loving hands of producer David Axelrod and numerous members of the famed Wrecking Crew. The high production quality blends the best of the Wrecking Crew, the Phil Spector “wall of sound,” and Brian Wilson’s increasingly complex pop arrangements. Songs like 1965’s “Woman In Love (With You)” and “Call Me” are so drenched in that production style that one could easily mistake them for outtakes from Beach Boys’ albums Today and Pet Sounds. “Play Little Music Box, Play” and the unreleased “They’re Jealous of Me” are perfect pop creations that fit in perfectly with the girl group stylings of The Ronettes and The Supremes. Loren also had a playful way with comedic numbers as well; “Drop the Drip” and “So, Do The Zonk!” are fun, enjoyable fare.
Loren’s sole album, Beach Blanket Bingo, was released in 1964 as a tie-in to the successful film of the same name, and while there are a handful of lovely songs, such as “New Love” and “It Only Hurts When I Cry,” much of the album is filler material. While not bad per se, the songs pale in comparison to her singles.”Cycle Set,” however, is a dead ringer for a Beach Boys song, and it’s not surprising, as it was a rare collaboration between two Beach Boys writers, Gary Usher and Roger Christian.
After 1966’s wonderful single “I Believe,” Loren would move on from the entertainment world; she would marry Lenny Warnoker, have three children—two of which, son Joey and daughter Anna, would follow in their mother’s footsteps—and devoted herself to her family, with occasional returns to the recording studio. Though her recording career was woefully brief, These Are The Good Times document a young talent’s creative fruits, and is a delight of a listen.