Thursday, March 11, 2010

427. Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes- Sadly lacking in ancient agrarian history.

Album: Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes.
Artist: The Ronettes.
Year: 1964
Genre: Girl Groups.

  1. (Walking) In the Rain
  2. Do I Love You?
  3. So Young
  4. (The Best Part of) Breakin' Up
  5. I Wonder
  6. What'd I Say?
  7. Be My Baby
  8. You, Baby
  9. Baby, I Love You
  10. How Does It Feel?
  11. When I Saw You
  12. Chapel of Love

I have to confess that I haven't managed to actually hear this entire album due to the fact that it's out of print. It has never had a CD release which means the only way to hear it is on something called Vinyl which can't be right because I'm sure that's what they make cheap furniture covers out of and there is no way this album was originally released as a couch. It's possible to hear tracks on compilations but if you want to get your hands on the whole thing you have to find the original LP. Good luck tracking it down though, copies change hands for hundreds of dollars. At the time of writing the going price for a copy on ebay was $199 US. You might think that not rereleasing an album that people are clearly desperate to own and Rolling Stone Magazine regards so highly is an act of madness, and you'd be correct.

The madness in question partly belongs to Phil Spector, who produced the Ronettes, married the lead singer and is madder than a talent quest in a mental home. As I write this Phil is languishing in jail serving a minimum of 19 years jail for murdering his wife. From all reports Ronnie Spector, his first wife, was lucky not to share the same fate. Phil kept Ronnie locked up in his mansion and even went so far as to hide her shoes in order to prevent her from leaving the house. He was terrified she'd be unfaithful and according to her autobiography showed her a glass-topped golden coffin that he had in the basement to house her body should she try and leave him. Phil was happy to kill her and have her preserved on display rather than lose her. Imagine living your life knowing the only way you're going to get your feet into a decent pair of shoes is if you're husband dresses you up for display in his perv-case.

Amazingly Ronnie managed to escape the clutches of Phil and presumably get her hands on some footwear. She remarried and lived a fairly normal life. Sadly the same can't be said of her sister Estelle who didn't cope with the breakup of the Ronnettes at all well. Her first move was to record a solo single called 2000 which I haven't heard but apparently is a dark song about nuclear apocalypse done in a cheery girl-group style. It wasn't well recieved although presumably not because there was a glut of upbeat pop songs dealing with radiation fallout. After her career collapsed she battled anorexia and other mental issues and reportedly spent a long time living on the streets telling people she was late for a Ronettes gig. When she encountered her cousin and former bandmate a few years after the breakup she failed to recognise her. Tragically she died of bowel cancer in 2009 alone in her apartment.

The best way to hear something close to these tracks is to get your hands on a Ronettes best-of release which contains some of this album along with some other hits which sound... exactly the same. Really it's hard to distinguish between Ronettes hits, they're pretty interchangeable. It's all so sweet and innocent which makes the fact that they were apparently the first Bad Girls of Pop so amusing. Tracks like Be My Baby are nothing compared to what the bad girls of pop today are producing. A double bill featuring The Ronettes opening for Rockbitch would definitely highlight just how far the concept of the Bad Girl has progressed, or regressed depending on your standpoint.

If you're into girl groups then you might want to check the Ronettes out. Although since it costs a couple of hundred dollars to hear this album in its original form you'd have to really be into girl groups to get your hands on a copy.

Highlight: Be my Baby
Lowlight: Presumably the tracks not good enough to make it into best ofs

Influenced by:
Phil Spector and motown
Influenced: All girl groups that came after.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote:
"i would love to buy this cd, but i have no idea how to purchase it , the company does not have an easy to use order formate. if any one ever reads this then please let me know how to order ,thanks"

-It doesn't say much for Ronettes fans when they not only can't work out how to order from the world's biggest online store but they can't even ask for help in the right place.

So would you pay $199 for the Ronettes or gladly pay $1.99 to never have to hear them again? Let me know below.

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