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The Sincerest Form Of Flattery,
This review is from: Phil's Spectre: A Wall of Soundalikes (Audio CD)
Phil Spector was a millionaire at the age of 23, after producing 15 hits in a row, including classics by the Ronettes and the Crystals. He had his own record label, Philles, and was the creator of his trademark Wall Of Sound, usually manufactured at the Gold Star Studios in Hollywood, with a crack team of musicians including the Wrecking Crew and a host of session singers. As an auteur producer, probably the first of the breed, he was the acknowledged master, and his success engendered a whole genre of other groups and performers from New York to Los Angeles, like the Chiffons and the Shangri-Las, whose producers tried to emulate the sound and the success of the young svengali.
This collection brilliantly demonstrates some of the most notable efforts, with "many tracks reissued legally for the first time", as it says on the back. Spector wasn't easy to work with and the number of former acolytes who left the fold and set up in competition to try to beat him at his own game is almost a genre in itself: Sonny and Cher, the Righteous Brothers, Nino Tempo and April Stevens, Carol Connors and the writers Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich are all included here.
Rival companies such as Motown weren't above experimenting with the Spector sound in the early days, and there are two examples, one by the Supremes and one featuring the great Gladys Horton, moonlighting from the Marvelettes. For some, emulating Spector was a form of homage and tribute, as with Brian Wilson, whose own style developed from studying Phil Spector. His girl group productions were often pastiche, while the Beach Boys' Spectorish version of Why Do Fools Fall In Love? was probably inspired by Ronnie (later Ronnie Spector) of the Ronettes' love of the Frankie Lymon original. The Walker Brothers also owed a debt to Spector for the sound on their British hits, of which the first, Love Her, chosen here, was arranged by one of Spector's right hand men, Jack Nitzsche.
The Chiffons appear in their extra Spector-like guise as the Four Pennies on the chart-storming, if non-PC, Barry/Greenwich song When The Boy's Happy (The Girl's Happy Too), and there is a wonderful Wall Of Sound transformation of the Falcon's You're So Fine by Dorothy Berry, the wife of Richard Berry, who went on to become one of Ray Charles' Raelettes. One of the groups included even call themselves The Wall Of Sound, whilst another proclaims itself A Spectra Production. Every track has earned its place on this fascinating glimpse at some of the impact Spector had on the music scene between 1963 and 1967