08 October 2011

Philles Records (Part One)

Twist Uptown

The Phil Spector Album Collection!
The Alley Cats, Bob B. Soxx & The Blue Jeans, Cher,
The Crystals, Darlene Love, The Righteous Brothers,
The Ronettes featuring Veronica and Ike & Tina Turner
Remixed and Re-Imagined
Part One
by Donny Jacobs
For fans of 1960s Girl Group music in general, and Phil Spector Girl Group productions in particular, it was the biggest news of the spring: Sony Music’s Legacy imprint would reissue all the original Philles Records albums on CD for the very first time! That is, all but The Righteous Brothers and Ike & Tina Turner discs, whose masters Spector sold off back in the late ‘60s. (A raunchy comedy album by Lenny Bruce would be omitted as well.)

Originally scheduled to go on sale in June, the release date came and went. To be sure, Spector fans are used to such delays; a 1987 Rhino Records retrospective that promised extensive stereo remixing was cancelled after much ballyhoo; then Abkco Records’ Back To Mono boxed set was put off for several years. It finally appeared in 1991. At this writing, The Philles Album Collection is due to drop on 24 October 2011. Will it? As always, seeing is believing. At least the track selection has been made available, so buyers know what to expect. If you’ve been buying Spector reissues for a while like I have, though, you’re in for a letdown.

For the discerning collector, Legacy’s package offers very little value. There is a great deal of track duplication between the CDs (The Crystals' Twist Uptown and He's A Rebel are practically the same album, with only two unique tracks between them). Worse, every album will be presented in a mono mix, even though the Ronettes release was originally marketed in a stereo version, and the Christmas album was mixed to stereo decades ago. Most if not all Philles recording sessions were recorded in multi-track. An album collection would be the ideal place to debut stereophonic mixes that have only been available as bootlogs thus far; but Sony Music has not chosen that course of action. No doubt, they are following Phil "Back to Mono" Spector’s wishes in doing so.

Also, no rare bonus tracks have been programmed. There will be a “bonus CD” filled with the throwaway instrumentals that Spector habitually slapped on the flipside of singles, and a handful of album cuts have never been reissued; but essentially, fans will be paying for the packaging! When you think about what this box set might have been . . . how much excitement would’ve been generated just by the reissue of previously-available stereo cuts, you just have to shake your head in disgust. Think of the huge profits that might’ve been realized! Only hardcore Spector collectors are likely to shell out money for this set. These days, catalog A & R staff seem determined to give consumers the least amount of bang for their bucks; it’s a cynical and short-sighted strategy, to be sure.

You’ll see the vintage music blogosphere posting reviews galore of The Philles Album Collection once it hits the streets. Here at the Pop Culture Cantina, we’ve decided to approach this release a bit differently. We’re not going to review it at all! Instead, we present the following description of a virtual Philles box set, the kind we’d prefer to buy. The Righteous Brothers and Ike & Tina albums are miraculously restored to the catalog, tracks are re-sequenced for maximum listening pleasure, all song duplication is eliminated, and . . . well, you’ll see!

He's A Rebel

Gee Whiz (Carla Thomas)*
featuring La La Brooks
Oh, Yeah! Maybe Baby (Hank Hunter, Phil Spector)*
featuring Patsy Wright
There’s No Other Like My Baby (Leroy Bates, Phil Spector)*
On Broadway (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil)**
I Love You, Eddie (Hank Hunter, Phil Spector)***
He Hit Me (Gerry Goffin, Carole King)*
He’s Sure The Boy I Love (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil)
featuring Darlene Love
Frankenstein Twist (Kate Henry, Leo McCorkle)*
featuring La La Brooks
What A Nice Way To Turn Seventeen! (Jack Keller, Larry Kolber)***
Please Hurt Me (Gerry Goffin, Carole King)*
Uptown (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil)**
Another Country, Another World (Doc Pomus, Phil Spector)***
No One Ever Tells You (Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Phil Spector)**
He’s A Rebel (Gene Pitney)
featuring Darlene Love
He’s A Rebel
The Crystals featuring Barbara Alston
*Arranged by Phil Spector and Arnold Goland
**Arranged by Phil Spector and Hank Levine
***Arranged by Phil Spector
Arranged by Jack “Specs” Nitzsche
A Phil Spector Production
Produced by Phil Spector
Recorded at Mirasound Studios, New York City
and Gold Star Studios, Hollywood
1961 - 1962

In the summer of 1962, Philles Records issued its first album, The Crystals’ Twist Uptown. As the title indicates, it capitalized on the success of the group’s recent big hit “Uptown”. There were eleven tracks; the twelfth song would certainly have been the withdrawn-from-sale “He Hit Me”, very conspicuous in its absence. By the time 1963 rolled around, The Crystals had scored two more best-sellers, “He’s Sure The Boy I Love” and the chart-topping “He’s A Rebel”. Twist Uptown was discontinued, and a new LP titled He’s A Rebel was rushed out that spring. Basically the same album, it restored “He Hit Me” to the line-up, but stingily deleted “Please Hurt Me” and La La Brooks' excellent cover of “Gee Whiz”. The new hits appeared in their place. What if Spector had tacked them on as bonus tracks instead? Then Crystals fans would’ve had a pip of an LP to enjoy, and it probably would’ve charted much higher than #131 on Billboard's album chart.

No matter the track line-up, this disc would’ve been a showcase for the serene vocal style of Barbara Alston. Arguably less than memorable, it was nevertheless a perfect sound for the Rock ballad records Spector was cutting at the time. Barbara was at her best with Latin-flavored accompaniment, and “On Broadway” (featuring the original, pre-Leiber and Stoller lyrics) is her standout performance, along with the aforementioned “Uptown”. A brisk Latin arrangement backs Patsy Wright on “Oh, Yeah! Maybe Baby” and enables a very weak singer to sound presentable. The cuts featuring Darlene Love and La La Brooks are a taste of Spector productions to come, sung with Gospel fervor and powered by a much more brash Wall of Sound. Again, Latin licks sell the numbers: “He’s A Rebel” is one of the best rock-a-tangos of the early ‘60s, while an echo-drenched cha-cha beat turns “Gee Whiz” into a song Carla Thomas, the original composer and vocalist, would hardly recognize. Before the end of ’63, Miss Brooks would distinguish herself as a true Latin Pop diva.

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah

Let The Good Times Roll! (Leonard Lee)*
I Shook The World (Jackie DeShannon, Jack Nitzsche)
White Cliffs Of Dover (Nat Burton, Walter Kent)*
Why Do Lovers Break Each Other's Heart?
(Ellie Greenwich, Tony Powers, Phil Spector)
Here Comes My Baby (Phil Spector)*
featuring Bobby Sheen
My Heart Beat A Little Bit Faster
(Ellie Greenwich, Tony Powers, Phil Spector)
Everything's Gonna Be All Right (Phil Spector)*
featuring Bobby Sheen
Jimmy, Baby (Jackie DeShannon, Jack Nitzsche)
This Land Is Your Land (Woody Guthrie)*
Not Too Young To Get Married
(Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)
Do The Walk (Phil Spector)*
featuring Bobby Sheen
I Love You, Baby (Phil Spector)*
Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah (Ray Gilbert, Allie Wrubel)
Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah
Bob B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans
featuring Darlene Love

*Arranged by Arnold Goland
Arranged by Jack "Specs" Nitzsche
A Phil Spector Production
Produced by Phil Spector
Recorded at Gold Star Studios, Hollywood

and Mirasound Studios, New York City
1962 - 1963

Bob B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans, comprised of session singer Bobby Sheen with Darlene Love and Fanita James of The Blossoms, only had a trio of hits. It might’ve only been one hit single, had Spector not decided to extend the shelf life of the group’s name with two follow-ups led by Darlene Love; but the biggest by far was their remake of “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah”, and the only release that deserved to become the title track of an album. Still, fans must’ve been disappointed to find that the next biggest seller, “Not Too Young To Get Married” was missing from the track line-up. Had the LP been issued a little later in the year, it probably would’ve been included. In its place we find “Dr. Kaplan’s Office”, which had been the instrumental flipside of “Why Do Lovers Break Each Other’s Heart?” Instrumental tracks are fine, as long as they’re played by the artists they’re credited to; however, there’s nary a Blue Jean on “Kaplan”; it’s played entirely by Phil Spector’s studio cats, informally known as The Wrecking Crew. Its merits as a dance tune aside, it doesn’t belong on the album!

Let’s explore how the LP might’ve sounded if “Lovers” had been included, along with an unreleased tune that might be the most danceable thing Bobby, Darlene and Fanita ever cut together. In either form, Darlene Love’s voice is the main event; as good a singer as Bobby Sheen was, Spector just wasn’t interested in him with Darlene around! He successfully passes her off as teenage boy on both Bob. B. Soxx follow-ups, and lets her sing from an obviously female point of view on most of the album tracks. She shines on two Jackie DeShannon-penned cha-cha rockers, “Jimmy Baby” and “I Shook The World". Either would’ve made an excellent single. Lady Love aquits herself well on a cover of Woody Guthrie’s folk anthem “This Land Is Your Land”, and she brings down the house on a Gospel-cum-Blues tour-de-force, “My Heart Beat A Little Bit Faster”. The latter tune backed some copies of her debut single, “Today I Met The Boy I’m Gonna Marry”, and fully deserved getting a long-play showcase. (Curiously, the charting topside was left off Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah).

Bobby Sheen does get a few moments in the sun: A haunting Blues called “Everything’s Gonna Be All Right” and the frantic “Here Comes My Baby”, soon to be covered by Toni Jones on Smash Records. He also makes the best of his brief solo spots on “White Cliffs Of Dover”. Bobby’s wailing lead on “Do The Walk” would’ve challenged Darlene’s vocal dominance; but the track wouldn’t be issued until 1981, on a British-only compilation of Philles rarities. Soon, Bobby would be at Capitol Records, pursuing a solo career that never took flight. Always more successful as the member of a group, he’d later join The Coasters.

Today's Hits

Anyone But You (Jeff Barry)*
Ruth Brown
Why Lead Me On? (Howard Guyton, Esther Navarro)**
The Top Notes
Hey, Memphis! (Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman)*
LaVern Baker
Hearts Of Stone (Rudy Jackson, Ed Ray)**
The Top Notes
A Kiss From Your Lips (Billy Davis, Russ Fratto)***
Billy Storm
When You Dance (Andy Jones)***
Billy Storm
Talk To Me, Talk To Me (Joe Seneca)*
Jean DuShon
Honey Love (Clyde McPhatter, Jerry Wexler)****
Billy Storm
Dear One (Fred Parris)***
Billy Storm
Tired Of Tryin’ (Jean DuShon)*
Jean DuShon
Twist And Shout (Bert Berns, Phil Medley)**
The Top Notes
The Basic Things (Derek Martin, Esther Navarro)**
The Top Notes
Puddin’ N’ Tain (Bryce Coefield, Gary Pipkin, Alonzo Willis)
The Alley Cats
Today’s Hits
Phil Spector Artists
*Arranged by Phil Spector
**Arranged by Teddy Randazzo
***Arranged by Lee Hazlewood and Hank Levine
****Arranged by Stan Applebaum

Arranged by Jack “Specs” Nitzsche
A Phil Spector Production
Produced by Phil Spector
Executive Producers:
Jerry Wexler and Lester Sill
Recorded at Atlantic Studios, New York City
and Gold Star Studios, Hollywood
1961 - 1963

If The Crystals’ He’s A Rebel was a rip-off for consumers, the various artists compilation Today’s Hits was even worse: It cannibalized songs from that album as well as The Crystals’ Greatest Hits collection (more about that album later), Bob B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans’ Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah set and The Ronettes’ forthcoming debut on long play. For his money, the buyer did get several non-LP tracks by The Crystals (“Then He Kissed Me”) and Darlene Love (A and B-sides, including one issued under the Bob B. Soxx moniker). This is the second (and final) Philles album Darlene’s vocals would dominate, and for that reason, it’s highly sought-after by her fans. Why shouldn’t she have had a collection of her own, though? We’ll address that oversight later on. For now, let’s re-imagine Today’s Hits as a showcase for both The Alley Cats and several artists Phil Spector worked with in the year he founded Philles Records, 1961.

Phil’s early productions were usually one-off projects released on small independent labels like Dunes, Trey, or Gregmark. However, he was a staff producer at both Liberty and Atlantic Records, and it was at Atlantic that he did most of his studio work. Under the supervision of Jerry Wexler, he cut sessions with two of the label’s biggest stars: Ruth Brown and LaVern Baker. He also tried to pull hits on three lesser-known acts: Former Valiants member Billy Storm, doo-wop duo The Top Notes, and Jazz singer Jean DuShon. In 1989, Japanese catalog A & R producers decided that the best of those releases would make one hell of a good album. They compiled Twist And Shout, a Japan-only compact disc that’s now so rare it’s almost frightening. So what if, instead of recycling masters and selling Darlene Love short on long-playing vinyl, Phil had given those non-hit Atlantic singles a second lease on life? He could have licensed them to fill up Today’s Hits, and tacked on “Puddin’ N’ Tain” as a bonus track and sample of his current work. OK, we know it’s a far-fetched concept, but it works!!!

These waxings may not have made the charts, but they kick ass! There's nothing second-rate about Billy Storm doing his dead ringer Clyde McPhatter impression over Phil’s deliciously Latinized backing tracks for “When You Dance” and “Honey Love”; nothing lacking in The Top Notes’ feverish Blues deliveries on “Hearts Of Stone” and “Twist And Shout” (the original version!); nothing shabby when Jean DuShon informs her lowdown, cheatin’ hubby that she’s “Tired Of Tryin’”; and when LaVern Baker reveals her cougar lust for Elvis Presley on “Hey, Memphis!” as Phil frets his electric guitar within an inch of its life, it sure ain't nothing to be ashamed of! The Ruth Brown record does drag a bit, but arguably, these Atlantic rarities are just as engaging as the Philles sides that ended up on Today’s Hits. By the way, Bobby Sheen scores one last star turn singing “Puddin’ N’ Tain”, a suggestively-titled update of the Gary “US” Bonds house party sound. Ironically, Phil hired Bobby to sing lead in place of Billy Storm, who’d recently left The Alley Cats to cut a solo album for Buena Vista Records.

A Christmas Gift For You

Stereo
White Christmas (Irving Berlin)
Darlene Love
Frosty, The Snowman (Steve Nelson, Jack Rollins)
The Ronettes featuring Veronica
The Bells Of Saint-Mary’s (Emmett Adams, Douglas Furber)
Bob B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
(John Frederick Coots, Henry Gillespie)
The Crystals featuring La La Brooks
Sleigh Ride (Leroy Anderson, Mitchell Parish)
The Ronettes featuring Veronica
Marshmallow World (Peter De Rose, Carl Sigman)
Darlene Love
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (Tommie Connor)
The Ronettes featuring Veronica
Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer (Johnny Marks)
The Crystals featuring La La Brooks
Winter Wonderland (Felix Bernard, Richard Smith)
Darlene Love
Parade Of The Wooden Soldiers (Leon Jessel, Ballard MacDonald)
The Crystals featuring La La Brooks and Nedra
Here Comes Santa Claus! (Gene Autry, Oakley Haldeman)
Bob B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans
Christmas, Baby, Please Come Home!
(Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)
Darlene Love
Silent Night (Franz Gruber, Joseph Mohr)
Phil Spector
A Christmas Gift For You!
Phil Spector Artists
Vocal Arrangements by Phil Spector and Darlene Love
Arranged by Jack “Specs” Nitzsche
A Phil Spector Production
Produced by Phil Spector
Recorded at Mirasound Studios, New York City
and Gold Star Studios, Hollywood
1963

Here’s the album that’s been reissued so many times, it’s become a music industry cliché! Like most (all?) of the Philles masters, it was recorded on multiple tracks, but originally issued in a mono version only. Later, when Spector was working with individual members of The Beatles, he secured a reissue for his Christmas spectacular on their imprint, Apple Records. That pressing was also monaural. In 1974, Phil cut a deal that resulted in the short-lived Warner-Spector label, and the LP was reissued yet again. The cover said “authentic mono”, but this time, there was a surprise in store for loyal fans. When they lay their phonograph needles down in its grooves, glorious stereo sound burst forth for the very first time! Not long afterward, a stereo reissue surfaced in England on the Phil Spector International label. These are the only Christmas album releases that are worth tracking down; avoid like the plague the re-monaural-ized versions later issued by Rhino, Abkco and Sony Music! Their mono mastering sounds amateurish in comparison to Larry Levine’s bold mixes on the original Philles LP.

Now, there are mono-only snobs galore who circle the Spector catalog like a constellation of evil stars; they flare in outrage at the thought of a Wall of Sound heard on multi-tracks. As far as we're concerned, these people should be locked in a warehouse filled with old overstock transistor radios! The Christmas album should only be heard in stereo! What joy, to experience Darlene Love, Ronnie Spector, Bobby Sheen and La La Brooks in the aural equivalent of Technicolor: It’s great to hear the cross-speaker panning of footsteps on “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”, stereo sound effects on “Sleigh Ride”, isolated handclappings on “White Christmas”, and isolated string sections shimmering like an aurora on “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” and “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)”!

Needless to say, the vocal performances are perfect (except for Phil Spector’s, but maybe that’s an unfair assessment since he isn’t singing)! A Christmas Gift For You! is almost sequenced perfectly, too; even if there were bonus tracks available, we wouldn’t dare try to add them. The only change we'd make would be to switch the placements of “Here Comes Santa Claus” and “Christmas” on Side Two; Darlene Love’s most famous Philles record deserves to be the album’s penultimate track. A maudlin Spector monologue spoken over the strains of “Silent Night” is the only thing that should follow such a bravura performance!

And contrary to common mono snob wisdom, stereo does not break up the Wall of Sound! That massive rhythm section still exists in its own channel, instruments stacked on top of each other just the way Spector intended them to be heard. If he’d wanted vocals and strings to be part of that mix, he surely would’ve recorded them at the same time as everything else.  Now, is a stereo Wall of Sound the same one people heard over their sound equipment in 1963? Of course not, but that exact sound will never be heard again unless you listen using 1960s-era sound systems. Who the @#%$ wants to do that? Modern mono mixes try to preserve Spector productions in amber, draining them of vitality and introducing a low-fi distortion that wasn’t present on the original sides. To our ears, none of the modern reissues measure up to them. Done with an ear for aural impact, stereo mixes would update Philles albums for the 21st century equipment they’d surely be played on.

Fabulous Ronettes

Stereo
What'd I Say? (Ray Charles)
Walkin' In The Rain (Barry Mann, Phil Spector, Cynthia Weil)
Be My Baby (Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)
Do I Love You? (Pete Anders, Vini Poncia, Phil Spector)
The Best Part Of Breakin' Up (Pete Anders, Vini Poncia, Phil Spector)
So Young (Phil Spector, William Tyus)
I Wonder (Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)
You, Baby (Barry Mann, Phil Spector, Cynthia Weil)
Baby, I Love You (Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)
How Does It Feel? (Pete Anders, Vini Poncia, Phil Spector)
When I Saw You (Phil Spector)
Chapel Of Love (Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)
Presenting The Fabulous Ronettes
The Ronettes featuring Veronica
Arranged by Jack "Specs" Nitzsche
A Phil Spector Production
Produced by Phil Spector
Recorded at Gold Star Studios and United Western Recordings,

Hollywood
1963 - 1964

Phil Spector lavished more time and attention on the tracks that make up this album than any other Philles Records release save the Christmas album. Significantly, while he delayed mixing his holiday masterpiece in stereo, Presenting The Fabulous Ronettes was issued in stereophonic sound right from the start. In fact, it was the first Philles album made available in that format. Many if not most Spector fans consider it his finest LP production, and we wouldn’t be surprised if Phil agreed with them. Kinda calls into question the notion that he despised multi-track, doesn’t it?

What we know for sure is that he adored Veronica Bennett's baby doll voice, and he spent hours recording it at Gold Star and United Western Studios prior to their marriage in 1968. Arguably, he wanted to give it the best aural showcase he could devise; that meant stereo sound, and still does. We've heard the monaural version of The Ronettes LP: It sucks! 45 RPM singles are the best vehicle for mono, and that record proves it. Compared to the multi-track mix, it sounds flat and dull on modern sound systems. The extra reverb Spector dubbed onto the stereo version adds more majesty to majestic recordings like “Walkin’ In The Rain”, “Baby, I Love You”, “Be My Baby” and “I Wonder”. To my ears, “What’d I Say?” (a studio recording with fake “live-in-concert” sound effects) is much less exciting in mono; and the widescreen effect stereo provides is a tremendous enhancement to quivering Rock ballads like “So Young” and “Then I Saw You.” Veronica’s Spanish Harlem vibrato may have been sharp enough to pierce through waves of orchestrated noise, but we like how she sounded when it didn’t have to.

Both versions of the album left something to be desired in terms of sequencing, so Pop Culture Cantina staff imagines a track line-up that allows the mood of the selections to rise and fall, as music does during a classical concert. Classical music was Phil Spector’s main inspiration, after all . . . “What’d I Say?” makes for a splashy, colorful opening number. “Walkin’ In The Rain” and “Be My Baby” present the orchestra at its best. “Breakin’ Up” and “So Young” soothe the crowd. After the intermission, “I Wonder” thrills them with its spicy Flamenco flourishes. A sultry “You, Baby” gives the audience a chance to bask in serene choral harmonies; then those voices explode into the anthemic glory that is “Baby, I Love You”. The mood modulates down through “How Does It Feel?” and “When I Saw You”, and a superb concert ends in a crescendo of Latin percussion and doo-wop Soul: “Chapel Of Love”! There couldn’t be a more appropriate finale; Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich’s #1 smash closed the original track listing, too.

Would you believe that, after such a stunning debut, The Ronettes were denied a follow-up album? (A Ronettes Lp issued on Colpix Records the following year was a compilation of pre-Philles recordings.) Just like the lack of a Darlene Love album, this is an injustice that begs to be made right. Stay tuned!

The Crystals Greatest Hits

I Wonder (Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)*
A Woman In Love (Barry Mann, Phil Spector, Cynthia Weil)
Mashed Potato Time
(Robert Bateman, Georgia Dobbins, William Garrett, Freddie Gorman,
Brian Holland, Kal Mann)
featuring Veronica
Da Doo Ron Ron (Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)
All Grown Up, Part One (Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)
Hot Pastrami (Dessie Rozier)
featuring Veronica
Then He Kissed Me (Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)
Look In My Eyes (Ritchie & Vinne Barrett)*
featuring Dee Dee Kennibrew
Girls Can Tell (Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)
The Twist (Hank Ballard)
featuring Veronica
Heartbreaker (Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)
All Grown Up, Part Two (Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)*
Wah-Watusi (Dave Appell, Kal Mann)
featuring Nedra
Little Boy (Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)
The Greatest Hits
The Crystals featuring La La Brooks
*Arranged by Phil Spector and Arnold Goland
Arranged by Jack "Specs" Nitzsche
A Phil Spector Production
Produced by Phil Spector
Recorded at Gold Star Studios, Hollywood
and Mirasound Studios, New York City
1961 - 1964

Pity the poor Crystals! Their biggest hits are recordings they had nothing to do with; Phil put out Darlene Love singles under their name, and didn’t even bother to tell them beforehand. They didn't find out until the singles got played on the radio. As you see, Darlene wasn’t the only Crystal who never was a Crystal, either. Adding insult to injury, Spector put very little thought into the group's albums. He dubbed their second (third?) long-player Greatest Hits, a curious move in the fall of ’63; they were on such a roll that releasing a hits compilation was certainly premature.

Cynically, Spector used this album as a vehicle to promote his newest act, The Ronettes. Ronnie Spector sings lead on “Mashed Potato Time”, “Hot Pastrami” and “The Twist”, while her cousin Nedra does the honors on “Wah-Watusi”. To complete this hodgepodge of old and new masters, Phil recycled already recycled material from the He’s A Rebel and Today’s Hits albums and added one new song: A previously-unreleased remake of The Chantels’ “Look In My Eyes”. Dee Dee Kenniebrew, a Crystal he didn’t get along with, sings the lead, and he mixed her vocal track so poorly, you can barely hear the lyrics! By contrast, Ronnie’s voice is front-and-center on her sassy covers of early ‘60s dance rockers. The real Crystals must’ve been hopping mad when they heard this so-called hits collection; once again, Phil had made illegitimate use of their name! However, there was nothing that the girls could do, because he owned their name.

It’s nearly 50 years after the fact, but let’s see if we can’t do right by The Crystals. Let’s imagine a Greatest Hits that’s as good as it could possibly be! To accomplish that feat, we’ll load it up with performances by The Crystals’ finest vocalist, La La Brooks. Despite her fabulous leads on “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Then He Kissed Me”, La La (appropriately born with the Spanish name Dolores) has never gotten the credit she deserves. To this day, some listeners assume those aforementioned Top Ten smashes feature Darlene Love’s voice. Not so! Our Miss Brooks shared Darlene’s Gospel background, but she had a singing style all her own. We'd say it lay halfway between Darlene’s Sunday morning blaze and Veronica´s midnight smoulder.

She wasn’t particularly fond of Latin-flavored tunes, but she excelled at singing them; in Spain, the talented mulata would probably have been hailed as a master interpreter of the pasodoble. Just listen to her commanding vocals on castanet-laden gems like “I Wonder”, “Girls Can Tell”, the outstanding “Little Boy”, and the aforementioned tour-de-force, “Then He Kissed Me.” “Heartbreaker”, not released on wax until 1976, reveals La La as a mean Latin boogaloo singer, too! She dares to invade Ronnie Spector ballad territory with a Diana Ross-styled reading of Mann and Weil’s “Woman In Love”; Veronica cut the song, too, but many fans regard La La’s version as definitive.  If you can't decide which one of her readings of "All Grown Up" is best, you don't have to; both are included here!

La La Brooks and Phil

DOLORES "LA LA" BROOKS with PHIL SPECTOR

“The Phil Spector Album Collection” concludes with Part Two.

06 October 2011

Philles Records (Part Two)

Twist Uptown

The Phil Spector Album Collection!
The Alley Cats, Bob B. Soxx & The Blue Jeans, Cher,
The Crystals, Darlene Love, The Righteous Brothers,
The Ronettes featuring Veronica and Ike & Tina Turner
Remixed and Re-Imagined
Part Two
by Donny Jacobs
Here we begin to expand on the Philles box set concept with album masters Sony Music couldn't (or, most likely, didn't want to) license. We also dig into the tape vaults and come up with a wealth of rarities: Three albums' worth, in fact, with nary a quirky instrumental in the bunch!

You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'

Stereo
Soul City (Bill Medley)
featuring Bill Medley
Over And Over (Bobby Day)
featuring Bobby Hatfield
The Angels Listened In (Sid Faust, Billy Dawn Smith)
Ko Ko Mo (Eunice Levy, Jake Porter, Forest Wilson)
Look At Me (Johnny Cole)
What'd I Say? (Ray Charles)
There's A Woman (Bobby Hatfield, Bill Medley)
Sick And Tired (Dave Bartholomew, Chris Kenner)
Summertime (George & Ira Gershwin, DuBose Heyward)
featuring Bobby Hatfield
Old Man River (Oscar Hammerstein, Jerome Kern)
featuring Bill Medley
You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'
(Barry Mann, Phil Spector, Cynthia Weil)*
You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'

Just Once In My Life

Stereo
The Blues (Bill Medley)
Sticks And Stones (Hank Glover, Titus Turner)
See That Girl (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil)**
featuring Bill Medley
You Are My Sunshine (Jimmie Davis, Charles Mitchell)
Guess Who? (Jesse & Jo Anne Belvin)
You'll Never Walk Alone (Oscar Hammerstein, Richard Rodgers)
Big Boy Pete (Don Harris, Dewey Terry)
Oo-Poo-Pah-Doo (Jesse Hill)
The Great Pretender (Buck Ram)
Unchained Melody (Alex North, Hy Zaret)
featuring Bobby Hatfield
Just Once In My Life (Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Phil Spector)**
Just Once In My Life

Back To Back

Stereo
Late, Late Night (Mike Patterson)
The Mike Patterson Band
For Sentimental Reasons (Pat Best, Deek Watson)**
featuring Bobby Hatfield
Without A Doubt (Bill Medley)
featuring Bill Medley
Hot Tamales (Bobby Hatfield)
featuring Bobby Hatfield
Hallelujah, I Love Her So (Ray Charles)
featuring Bill Medley
Ebb Tide (Robert Maxwell, Carl Sigman)***
featuring Bobby Hatfield
She's Mine, All Mine (Bobby Hatfield)
featuring Bobby Hatfield
Lovin' You (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller)
featuring Bill Medley
White Cliffs Of Dover (Nathaniel Burton, Walter Kent)*
featuring Bobby Hatfield
God Bless The Child (Arthur Herzog, Jr, Billie Holliday)
featuring Bill Medley
Hung On You (Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Phil Spector)**
Back-To-Back
The Righteous Brothers
with The Blossoms and The Mike Patterson Band
Arranged by Woody Woodrich, Bill Baker
and Johnny Wimber
A Righteous Brothers Production
Produced by Bill Medley

*Arranged by Gene Page
**Arranged by Jack “Specs” Nitzsche
***Arranged by Perry Botkin, Jr
A Phil Spector Production
Produced by Phil Spector
Recorded at Gold Star Studios, Radio Recorders
and United Western Recordings, Hollywood
1964 - 1965

By the time he signed The Righteous Brothers to Philles Records in 1964, Phil Spector had nearly lost all interest in albums. Presenting The Fabulous Ronettes would be his last hurrah on long-playing vinyl until he started working with John Lennon, Yoko Ono and George Harrison in the ‘70’s. Even though three Righteous Brothers albums were issued on Philles, he didn’t produce any of them! Bill Medley, bass singer of the duo, produced the album tracks. Phil worked on the singles. At least, that’s what was supposed to happen. Spector produced one album cut, and Medley ended up producing one Philles 45. Its runaway success hastened the end of The Brothers’ time as Philles Records artists. That single was, believe it or not, “Unchained Melody”.

“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” launched The Righteous Brothers as both a Philles act and a million-selling duo. Of course, that single (stunning in both its mono and stereo mixes) was totally a Phil Spector production. However, after it became an international chart-topper, Phil couldn't have cared less about cutting an LP with Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield. Engineer Larry Levine had to cajole a budget out of him so that Medley could go in and produce an album session. He wasn’t an odd choice, because under the supervision of song publisher Ray Maxwell, he’d produced nearly all the pre-Philles Righteous Brothers records. Bill Medley was a very quick study: He closely observed Phil’s methods, and became a highly skilled record producer as a result. Ironically, the sides he cut for Philles are considered inferior to those he’d done for Moonglow Records in 1963-4.

His productions for the You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ album are rather good, holding forth with a somewhat jazzy, somewhat laid-back atmosphere. On the next LP, Just Once In My Life, he’s just pimping Spector’s style with varying degrees of success. The Spector-produced sides (the title track and “See That Girl”, a ballad sung by Medley alone) sound far superior to the other cuts. Well, all but two of them: Played for laughs, Bill and Bobby's cover of “Ooh-Poo-Pah-Doo” is aurally exciting, and while the recording isn’t well-known, it’s one of the best Rock novelties of the ‘60s. “Unchained Melody”, on the other hand, is anything but a novelty. If you've listened to it closely, you know the backing track isn’t such a great Spector imitation, either; but for millions of record buyers, it was close enough.

Philles Records issued “Hung On You” as a follow-up to “Just Once In My Life” in the summer of 1965. Deejays weren’t too impressed with this Goffin/King song, and it stalled at #47 on Billboard’s Hot 100. They did go for the cover of a Roy Hamilton hit on the flipside, though, and in a big way. The stately arrangement, combined with Bobby Hatfield’s virtuoso performance, really knocked them out. The label listed no production credits, so everybody assumed Phil Spector had done the honors. It was a big ballad, and Spector specialized in big ballads, so . . . the single was flipped over, it got a ton of airplay, landed in the Top Ten, and somewhere along the way, Spector got credit for producing another Wall of Sound smash. Phil did and said nothing to disabuse anybody of that notion. Au contraire, he took credit for “Unchained Melody” from then on.

Ask Bill Medley, and he won't hesitate to tell you he produced “Unchained Melody” for the Philles label. Session notes (the correct ones) reveal it was cut at Radio Recorders, not at Gold Star or United Western; those were the studios Spector favored. Mike Patterson, The Righteous Brothers’ bandleader, conducted the session. Whether or not Medley tried to publicize these facts in 1965 is something we don’t know. What we do know is that his relationship with Spector became strained. After “Unchained” sold so well, Bobby Hatfield began singing solo on Spector productions. Then, all of a sudden, Bobby also stopped recording with Phil. Lawsuits flew back and forth! When the dust cleared, The Righteous Brothers had relocated to Verve Records with Medley firmly planted in the producer’s chair. He got sweet revenge on Phil when “Soul And Inspiration”, a song Phil had rejected, shot to #1 in early 1966. It was the near-perfect Wall of Sound copy that “Unchained Melody” aspired to be.

Medley had left session tapes at Philles in various stages of completion. Phil cobbled them together with “Hung On You” and the Hatfield-only singles he’d released (including “Ebb Tide”, a second Roy Hamilton cover that became another major hit) and slapped them on a compilation LP he titled Back-To-Back. It doesn’t hold up well as an album, but it features some great tracks: Bill Medley impersonates Ray Charles masterfully on “God Bless The Child” and “Hallelujah, I Love Her So”, and Bobby Hatfield is at his funkiest singing “She’s Mine, All Mine” and “Hot Tamales”(which had been a Moonglow Records single in 1963; Phil left it in mono, but we've programmed the rare stereo mix). By 1967, Verve Records had purchased the rights to all the Philles material, and the company issued what it considered the best of it as The Righteous Brothers’ Greatest Hits. None of Bill Medley’s Verve productions made the track line-up, but several of his weaker efforts from Just Once In My Life were programmed. So was “Unchained Melody” which, of course, is erroneously credited to Phil Spector.  Seemingly as a consolation prize, Medley is listed as the producer of “See That Girl”!  Any true Wall of Sound connoisseur can tell whose work that record is. These discrepancies have been repeated on every RB compilation that’s been released since. Keep in mind that The Righteous Brothers never owned their Philles master tapes, and had no say as to how they would be marketed . . .

In her 1998 book, My Name Is Love, Darlene Love stated matter-of-factly that “after ‘Lovin’ Feelin’, Bill had as much to do with the production as Phil did.” The lady was there, so she should know! Maybe someday, Phil Spector cultists (especially those who write and research CD liner notes) will be ready to acknowledge just how much . . . but we wouldn't advise holding your breath!

River-Deep, Mountain-High

Stereo
You’re So Fine!
(Lance Finney, Willie Schofield, Bob West)
A Love Like Yours (Lamont Dozier, Brian & Eddie Holland)*
I Idolize You (Ike Turner)
Such A Fool For You! (Ike Turner)
Every Day I Have To Cry (Arthur Alexander, Jr)**
Make 'Em Wait (Ike Turner, Steve Venet, Toni Wine)
River-Deep, Mountain-High
(Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)***
Save The Last Dance For Me (Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman)*
A Fool In Love (Ike Turner)
Things Ain't What They Used To Be (Kent Harris)
Hold On, Baby! (Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)***
It's Gonna Work Out Fine (Rose Marie McCoy, Sylvia McKinney)
I'll Never Need More Than This
(Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)***
River-Deep, Mountain-High
Ike and Tina Turner
with The Ikettes

Arranged and Produced by
Ike Turner

*Arranged by Perry Botkin, Jr
**Arranged by Gene Page
***Arranged by Jack “Specs” Nitzsche
A Phil Spector Production
Produced by Phil Spector
Recorded at Gold Star Studios, Hollywood
1966

Philles Records died in 1967. The last single issued on the label, “I’ll Never Need More Than This”, didn’t even crack the Hot 100! Scheduled as the follow-up, “A Love Like Yours” never got past the deejay pressing stage. Both were Tina Turner singles, and the first one Phil cut with Tina, “River-Deep, Mountain-High”, drove the first nail into his record label's coffin. Spector spent an insane amount of money producing this song collaboration with Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, only to see American Pop radio turn a universal thumbs down the track. An ambitious fusion of Blues sensibility and symphony orchestra bombast, deejays just didn’t know what to make of it. In the original single mix, Tina Turner sounded as if she were screaming for her life from the bottom of a very deep chasm. It took the combined efforts of The Supremes and The Four Tops to finally make the song a Pop hit four years later. Phil was so demoralized at this rejection of what he regarded as his masterpiece, he decided to close up shop after completing the River-Deep album.

Even though Spector worked with Tina Turner alone, the records were credited to Ike and Tina. Not surprisingly, Ike Turner produced most of the album; once again, Phil preferred to concentrate on singles (which, by this time, he wasn’t producing anymore)! It wasn’t released in the United States until 1969, after Phil had cut a distribution deal with A & M Records. However, you could buy the LP in 1966 if you lived or traveled overseas. With the same cover photography by actor Dennis Hopper that would later grace the American issue, River-Deep, Mountain-High first appeared on London Records. The single may have floundered stateside, but British radio heartily embraced the single. It was a major BBC hit, so it made sense that Phil would only release the album in European territories. At that time, stereo was still a novelty in Europe, but a few stereo copies were pressed up and sold. Not only is the London LP available in stereophonic sound, it contains a track that doesn’t appear on the 1969 A & M version: A cover of The Falcon’s 1959 doo-wop oldie “You’re So Fine.” A strong argument can be made, though, that Spector wanted the album mixed as close to monaural as it could possibly be.

Our suspicion is that Larry Levine engineered both the Turner and Spector sessions, because all the London album cuts have similarly dense mixes. However, you can easily tell the difference in Ike Turner's work. He emphasizes his band's hip-shaking rhythm section and Tina’s dynamic call-and-response interaction with The Ikettes. Phil has settled into his heavily orchestrated phase, with emphasis on strings, brass and big vocal choruses enveloping (smothering?) the vocalist. The backing tracks for “A Love Like Yours”, “Every Day I Have To Cry”, “Hold On, Baby!” and “Save The Last Dance For Me” are every bit as cavernous as those on “River-Deep.” When you nearly succeed in burying a volcanic voice like Tina Turner possesses, that says something (and not necessarily something good). The small studio sound of Ike Turner’s productions make for quite a contrast. Listening to this British LP calls to mind the sound of a thunderstorm moving in and out of the area: The noise level either shakes the house or fills the air with a distant rumble. Needless to say, it’s a unique aural experience!

Yet, we have to admit that the more panoramic mixes heard on the later American version lets the songs breathe better. When you add “I’ll Never Need More Than This” as a bonus track, as we’ve done for our imaginary Philles release, the improvement in sound quality is quite pronounced. In any decent mix, “Save The Last Dance For Me” and especially “Hold On, Baby!” impress the listener as hit singles that got away. As for the non-hit single “River-Deep, Mountain-High”, Phil would never be satisfied with the mix. He’s commissioned a new remix nearly every time it’s been reissued. Most recently, he’s allowed it to be heard in stereo again. A sign of positive developments to come, perhaps?

Phil and Ronnie Spector

Paradise
(Perry Botkin, Jr, Gil Garfield, Harry Nilsson, Phil Spector)*
Born To Be Together (Barry Mann, Phil Spector, Cynthia Weil)*
Soldier Baby Of Mine (Pete Anders, Vini Poncia, Phil Spector)*
Why Don't They Let Us Fall In Love?
(Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)*
Everything Under The Sun (Bob Crewe, Gary Knight)**
I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine
(Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)**
You Came! You Saw! You Conquered!
(Irwin Levine, Phil Spector, Toni Wine)**
Keep On Dancing, Little Girl
(Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)*
Here I Sit (Harry Nilsson, Phil Spector)*
Is This What I Get For Loving You, Baby?
(Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Phil Spector)*
Baby, Let’s Be Lovers (Irwin Levine, Toni Wine, Phil Spector)***
I Can Hear Music (Barry, Greenwich, Spector)
I Can Hear Music
The Ronettes featuring Veronica
Arranged by Artie Butler
Produced by Jeff Barry
*Arranged by Jack "Specs" Nitzsche
**Arranged by Perry Botkin, Jr
***Arranged by Dee Barton and Perry Botkin, Jr
A Phil Spector Production
Produced by Phil Spector

Recorded at Mirasound Studios, New York City
and A & M Studios, Gold Star Studios,
and United Western Recordings, Hollywood
1965 - 1969

Between 1964 and 1966, the year when The Ronettes broke up, Phil Spector had Veronica Bennett in the recording studio constantly. “Phil made sure that I stayed in the studio,” she told interviewer Kingsley Abbott decades later. “He worked me so hard that sometimes, we wouldn’t get out of the studio until the sun was coming up!” She was his muse, his greatest star, and he lavished time and attention on her to the detriment of his other acts. The Crystals, Bobby Sheen and The Righteous Brothers abandoned Philles and signed with other labels. As for Darlene Love, she became strictly a background singer; Spector wouldn’t use her on lead again until the mid-1970s. Yet after the Fabulous Ronettes album was released, Ronnie featured on only three more Philles singles, one of them a Jeff Barry production. “He kept on telling me that we were making new hits,” Ronnie recalled, “but then he didn’t release things.”

In 1969, the year after Phil and Ronnie married, another 45 slipped out on A & M Records. (By then, the group only existed in name only.) None of these sides were hits, so the much-anticipated second album failed to appear. Dozens of masters were reportedly cut, but much to the chagrin of Ronettes fans, only a relative handful have sneaked out over the years. Sixty-nine was also the year The Beach Boys scored high on the charts with a cover of The Ronettes’ “I Can Hear Music.” That was the aforementioned non-hit (#100 Pop) produced by Jeff Barry. If Spector had been of a mind to do it, he might have marketed a new Ronettes album off that song. After all, The Beach Boys never issued an I Can Hear Music album.

Ronnie’s original waxing of the song might have closed an exceptional A & M Records LP. It would’ve boasted grandiose balladry like “Paradise” (later covered brilliantly by Bette Midler) and “I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine” (later subjected to a dismal Stan Vincent-produced remake). The rockin’ sides would’ve included Mrs. Spector’s latest waxing “You Came! You Saw! You Conquered!” along with “Soldier Baby Of Mine”, “Here I Sit”, “Everything Under The Sun” (later cut with Tina Turner for possible release on Philles, but not by Phil: Its composer, Bob Crewe, would do the honors), “Keep On Dancing, Little Girl” and “Why Don’t They Let Us Fall In Love?”, a slow twist single that Phil test-marketed prior to the release of “Be My Baby”. The sultry “Baby, Let’s Be Lovers”, cut at the same sessions as “You Came . . .” is arguably the best of several Toni Wine compositions Ronnie waxed during the A & M period; leaving it off the LP would’ve been a crime! And after hearing the exuberant, churning drama of the failed Philles singles “Born To Be Together” and “Is This What I Get For Loving You, Baby?” in widescreen stereo mixes, everybody would’ve asked why they hadn't gone Top Ten.

Unfortunately, stereo mixes of these tracks aren’t currently available, unless you’re talking about aurally inferior bootlegs (and we're not talking about them) . . . but we can dream, can’t we? Look at the profusion of stellar composer credits: Harry Nilsson, Pete Anders, Vini Poncia, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Irwin Levine, Toni Wine and, naturally, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. The calibre of selections on I Can Hear Music would’ve been so extraordinarily high, it might have made Fabulous Ronettes sound like a rough demo!

Phil and Darlene Love

Johnny, Baby, Please Come Home
(Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)
Strange Kind Of Love (Pete Anders, Vini Poncia, Phil Spector)
Stumble And Fall (Pete Anders, Vini Poncia, Phil Spector)
Wait 'Til My Bobby Gets Home (Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)
A Fine, Fine Boy (Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)
Take It From Me (Phil Spector)**
Lord, If You’re A Woman (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil)*
Chapel Of Love (Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)
He's A Quiet Guy (Pete Anders, Vini Poncia, Phil Spector)
(Today I Met) The Boy I'm Gonna Marry
(Ellie Greenwich, Tony Powers, Phil Spector)
Run, Run, Run Away (Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)
A Long Way To Be Happy (Gerry Goffin, Carole King)
Playing For Keeps (Phil Spector)**
I Loved Him Like I Loved My Very Life
(Irwin Levine, Phil Spector, Toni Wine)***
Lord, If You’re A Woman
Darlene Love
with The Blossoms
*Arranged by Nino Tempo
**Arranged by Phil Spector
***Arranged by Perry Botkin, Jr

Arranged by Jack "Specs" Nitzsche
A Phil Spector Production
Produced by Phil Spector
Recorded at Gold Star Studios and A & M Studios, Hollywood
1962 - 1977

If you don’t count the records she sang on that were issued as Crystals and Bob B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans singles, Darlene Love only made the Top Forty once under her own name. 1963’s “Wait ‘Til My Bobby Gets Home” was her only bonafide hit. Yet if you do count those other singles, and also take into account her dominance of several albums, her extensive background vocal work for Spector, and the fact that Phil let her do vocal arrangements for his Christmas record, you’ll understand why she’s considered the Queen of Philles Records. The Ronettes may have been more favored, and The Crystals more successful, but the lovely and talented Miss Love (or Miss Wright, if you want to be fussy) had the sound everybody wanted on their Pop records. She logged studio sessions with everybody from Sam Cooke to Dusty Springfield to Elvis Presley.

Since her Philles heyday, Darlene has released a handful of albums, but in my opinion, none of them do her talent justice. Her devoted fans longed for an album of Spector productions, and in 1981, they finally got one, of sorts. Darlene Love Masters was a hastily thrown-together compilation that was only available as part of a nine-album British box set called Wall Of Sound. Predictably, it became quite the collector’s item, but in terms of track inclusions, sequencing, sound quality and sleeve artwork, it still wasn’t the kind of showcase she deserved. Let’s re-imagine it as a European-only Philles album called Lord, If You’re A Woman, issued on the heels of a rare 1977 single of the same title.

Naturally, we’d want to include those delectable Philles A-sides: “Today I Met The Boy I’m Gonna Marry,” “A Fine, Fine Boy”, the withdrawn-from-sale “Stumble And Fall” and the aforementioned torch-carrying rocker. We’d also want choice flipsides like “He’s A Quiet Guy” (Darlene’s personal favorite of her Philles recordings), the bluesy “Take It From Me” and “Playing For Keeps”. For the album-only tracks, we’d favor reverb-drenched rarities like “A Long Way To Be Happy” (wouldja believe a version cut by lounge singer Carolyn Day is in waltz time??!!), “Strange Kind Of Love” (a superb tango rocker) and Darlene’s bump-and-grind version of “Chapel Of Love” (hey, don’t knock it ‘til you’ve heard it). “Run, Run, Run Away” would give fans an idea of how she’d have sounded singing lead on The Crystals’s “Da Do Ron Ron”; the alternate version of "Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)" features a pre-fame Cher, very audible in the background; and we’d finish on an unexpected note with the Country-flavored “I Loved Him Like I Loved My Very Life”. Classic Soul aficionados will recognize it as a number from the Carla Thomas catalogue. This Toni Wine-penned waxing obviously dates from an aborted A & M Records session; it hints at what stylistic direction Darlene might've taken had Phil’s interest in her voice remained constant.

BONNIE JO MASON

Seven Million People (Howard Greenfield, Helen Miller)
George McCannon III
Arranged by Johnny Abbott
A Taylor-Gorgoni Production
Produced by Chip Taylor and Al Gorgoni
When I Get Scared (Pete Anders, Doc Pomus, Vini Poncia)
The Lovelites
An Anders-Poncia Production
Produced by Pete Anders and Vini Poncia
You’re My Baby! (Pete Anders, Vini Poncia, Phil Spector)
Gene Toone & The Blazers
Arranged by Arnold Goland
A Phil Spector Production
Produced by Phil Spector
Lover’s Wonderland (Perry Botkin, Jr, Johnny Cole, Gil Garfield)
The Sugar Plums
Arranged by Perry Botkin, Jr
A Botkin-Garfield Production
Produced by Gil Garfield and Perry Botkin, Jr
Kiss Me Now! (Marty Cooper, Bobby Susser)
Florence DeVore
Arranged by Horace Ott
A Cooper-Susser-Silberstein Production
Produced by Marty Cooper and Bobby Susser
You Can’t Grow Peaches On A Cherry Tree
(Estelle Levitt, Camille Monte)
George McCannon III
Arranged by Johnny Abbott
A Taylor-Gorgoni Production
Produced by Chip Taylor and Al Gorgoni
Down, Down (Ike Turner)
The Ikettes
Arranged and Produced by
Ike Turner
Act Naturally (Voni Morrison, Johnny Russell)
Betty Willis
Arranged and Produced by
Leon Russell
Home Of The Brave (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil)
Bonnie & The TreasuresArranged by Nick De Caro
Produced by Jerry Riopell
Whatcha Gonna Do? (Ike Turner)
The Ikettes
Arranged and Produced by
Ike Turner
Oh, Baby!! (Doc Pomus, Phil Spector)
Harvey & Doc with The Dwellers
A Phil Spector Production
Produced by Phil Spector
Ringo, I Love You (Pete Anders, Vini Poncia, Phil Spector)
Bonnie Jo Mason
A Phil Spector Production
Produced by Phil Spector
We’re Not Old Enough
(Marty Cooper, Terry Sue Pinter, Bobby Susser)
Florence DeVore
Arranged by Horace Ott
A Cooper-Susser-Silberstein Production
Produced by Marty Cooper and Bobby Susser
Hold Me Tight (John Lennon, Paul McCartney)
The Treasures featuring Pete Anders
Arranged by Jack “Specs” Nitzsche
A Phil Spector Production
Produced by Phil Spector
Yesterday (John Lennon, Paul McCartney)
Al De Lory
An Atlas Artists Production
Arranged by Al De Lory
Produced by Fred Darian
under the supervision of Harry Maselow
The Phi-Dan Story
Phil Spector Artists
Recorded 1964-1965

Now, this is the kind of bonus compilation CD that would leave Spector fans drooling! The various releases on Phi-Dan, Annette and Shirley Records (all subsidiary labels to Philles) have never been properly compiled. Most were not supervised by Spector, but every one of them reflects his production ethic to a greater or lesser degree. The producers were some of his most valuable session musicians, along with people he didn’t employ like Marty Cooper, Al Gorgoni and Chip Taylor who nevertheless absorbed his stylistic influence.

“Oh, Baby!” is jokey throwaway track featuring novelty vocals by Phil and songwriter Jerome “Doc” Pomus, but most of the other singles are outstanding: The Lovelites track sounds like Spector producing Belinda Carlisle had she been of recording age in 1964; churning like a piston engine, “You’re My Baby” is a great, groovin' lost Doo-Wop treasure; “Home Of The Brave”, the work of Spector protegé Jerry Riopell, all but defines the Wall of Sound-a-Like genre; and The Ikettes’ “Whatcha Gonna Do?” is a rafters-rocking, street classy boogaloo disc featuring the Holloway sisters (Brenda and Patrice) on backing vocals.

That’s not all: “Ringo, I Love You” is not only Cher’s first single (“Bonnie Jo Mason” was a pseudonym), it’s also the most sought-after Beatles tribute record on the collector’s market. Despite the similarity to “She Loves You”, it ain't a bad song, either. Florence DeVore’s “We’re Not Old Enough” is so incredibly fabulous, it just may be the quintessential Latin-flavored Girl Group single; Pete Anders of The Treasures (a group soon to be renamed The Tradewinds) got his big moment in the sun crooning “Hold Me Tight” over a thunderous Jack Nitzsche arrangement; and Al De Lory’s glorious piano rendition of “Yesterday” is the kind of shimmering instrumental Phil should’ve put on his flipsides.

Now, wasn't that special? Don't you wish you owned a Phil Spector box set this comprehensive? This fanciful exercise of ours is certainly not meant to discourage anyone from buying The Philles Album Collection. If you want it and can afford it in these tough economic times, by all means buy a copy! That said, if you think Sony Music/Legacy aren’t providing exactly what you want in its new Phil Spector reissues, don’t hesitate to let them know.  If earlier generations of Spector fans were able to enjoy high-fidelity mastering, previously-unreleased sides and stereophonic sound, there’s no good reason why you shouldn’t, too!

Phil and The Ronettes II

Special thanks to
Peter Richmond and Michael V. Skeen