Yes, Lord! Apollas’ lead vocalist Leola Jiles cries out at the end of the Bay Area trio’s chilling soul rendition of Don Everly’s “Who Would Want Me Now.” The spontaneous outburst wasn’t part of the performance on the original 1967 Warner Bros. single, but it happens on a new 25-track collection recently issued by English label Ace Records, which includes the singing group’s complete recordings — five of which were previously unreleased. The women may have traded the church for the clubs, changing their name from “The Apollos” to “The Apollas” in the process, but the spirit of gospel music remained at the heart of their sound.
The singers tackled material by some of the most talented tunesmiths of the period — Ashford and Simpson and Barry and Greenwich, among them — but they had no hits. They did, however, open shows for major stars like Glen Campbell and The Monkees. And they stayed off the so-called chitlin circuit (although group member Joann Folks is pictured in the booklet introducing Barbra Streisand, with whom they appeared at the hungry i, to some chitlins she’d just cooked). Jiles, a resident of Pittsburg, California, was the Apollas’ sparkplug. Featured at the helm of nearly every selection, she projects her vibrant mezzo-soprano pipes in an uncanny cross between precisely enunciated pop polish and raw, melisma-spewing passion. (Ace)