Saturday, January 4, 2014

64 Back to Mono (1991) Phil Spector

Disc: 1
1. To Know His Is To Love Him - The Teddy Bears
2. Corrine, Corrina - Ray Peterson
3. Spanish Harlem - Ben E. King
4. Pretty Little Angel Eyes - Curtis Lee
5. Every Breath I Take - Gene Pitney
6. I Love How You Love Me - The Paris Sisters
7. Under The Moon Of Love - Curtis Lee
8. There's No Other Like My Baby - The Crystals
9. Uptown - The Crystals
10. He Hit Me (It Felt Like A Kiss) - The Crystals
11. He's A Rebel - The Crystals
12. Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah - Bob B. Soxx And The Blue Jeans
13. Puddin' N' Tain - The Alley Cats
14. He's Sure The Boy I Love - The Crystals
15. Why Do Lovers Break Each Other's Hearts - Bob B. Soxx And The Blue Jeans
16. (Today I Met) The Boy I'm Gonna Marry - Darlene Love
17. Da Doo Ron Ron - The Crystals
18. Heartbreaker - The Crystals
19. Why Don't They Let Us Fall In Love - Veronica
20. Chapel Of Love - Darlene Love
21. Not Too Young To Get Married - Bob B. Soxx And The Blue Jeans
22. Wait Til My Bobby Gets Home - Darlene Love
23. All Grown Up - The Crystals
Disc: 2
1. Be My Baby - The Ronettes
2. Then He Kissed Me - The Crystals
3. A Fine, Fine Boy - Darlene Love
4. Baby, I Love You - The Ronettes
5. I Wonder - The Ronettes
6. Girls Can Tell - The Crystals
7. Little Boy - The Crystals
8. Hold Me Tight - The Treasures
9. (The Best Part Of) Breakin' Up - The Ronettes
10. Soldier Baby Of Mine - The Ronettes
11. Strange Love - Darlene Love
12. Stumble And Fall - Darlene Love
13. When I Saw You - The Ronettes
14. So Young - Veronica
15. Do I Love You? - The Ronettes
16. Keep On Dancing - The Ronettes
17. You, Baby - The Ronettes
18. Woman In Love (With You) - The Ronettes
19. Walking In The Rain - The Ronettes
Disc: 3
1. You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' - The Righteous Brothers
2. Born To Be Together - The Ronettes
3. Just Once In My Life - The Righteous Brothers
4. Unchained Melody - The Righteous Brothers
5. Is This What I Get For Loving You? - The Ronettes
6. Long Way To Be Happy - Darlene Love
7. (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons - The Righteous Brothers
8. Ebb Tide - The Righteous Brothers
9. This Could Be The Night - The Modern Folk Quartet
10. Paradise - The Ronettes
11. River Deep-Mountain High - Ike & Tina Turner
12. I'll Never Need More Than This - Ike & Tina Turner
13. A Love Like Yours (Don't Come Knockin' Everyday) - Ike & Tina Turner
14. Save The Last Dance For Me - Ike & Tina Turner
15. I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine - The Ronettes
16. You Came, You Saw, You Conquered - The Ronettes
17. Black Pearl - Sonny Charles And The Checkmates
18. Love Is All I have To Give - The Checkmates
Disc: 4
1. White Christmas - Darlene Love
2. Frosty The Snowman - The Ronettes
3. The Bells of St. Mary - Bob B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans
4. Santa Claus is Coming to Town - The Crystals
5. Sleigh Ride - The Ronettes
6. Marshmallow World - Darlene Love
7. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus - The Ronettes
8. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - The Crystals
9. Winter Wonderland - Darlene Love
10. Parade of the Wooden Soldiers
11. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - Darlene Love
12. Here Comes Santa Claus - Bob B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans
13. Silent Night - Phil Spector and Artists

According to the official documentation this is a Phil Spector album. It's an album by Phil Spector in the same way that The Stranger is an album by Billy Joel and Off The Wall is an album by Michael Jackson. Except Jackson and Joel both perform on their albums, specifically they sing. Joel even plays piano. Spector however just produces and writes a bit, He's a producer and this is a collection of singles that he produced (and one he supplied backing vocals for). The question I have is: does being a producer justify putting your name to the music? Should this be considered a Phil Spector release?

What about the artists? Ben E King, The Ronettes, The Crystals, The Righteous Brothers, Ike and Tina Turner don't they deserve a degree of credit as well? Especially considering the likes of Ike Turner are not passive artists who stand in the studio and sing when they're told to sing. Ike don't stay behind no mike. He likes to get involved in the production side of things and wasn't leaving anything to Spector alone.

What about the musicians? Hal Blaine for example, never gets enough credit for his incredible body of work. Blaine was a session drummer who played with pretty much everyone. In his recording career he has played on over 50 number one hits which is an amazing achievement. He played on six consecutive Grammy record of the year winners (from 1966-1971) and has played drums for everyone from Presley to Sinatra, from The Beach Birds to the Supremes, from Simon and Garfunkle to Sonny and Cher, from John Lennon to John Denver. If Blaine didn't play on a hit record then there's every chance Jim Gordon did. He played on records by Alice Cooper, Tom Petty, The Beach Boys, Joan Baez, Neil Diamond, The Monkees and The Everly Brothers among a huge list of others. He was the guy to call in and sit behind your drums if Blaine was somewhere else and he'd probably still be drumming if he hadn't murdered his mother. Tommy Tedesco is listed by Guitar Player magazine as the most recorded guitarist in history (although Warren Haynes has probably beaten him by now). Tedesco played on records by Elvis, Sam Cooke, Striesand, Cher, Sinatra and pleasingly Frank Zappa. It's guys like Blaine, Gordon and Tedesco that make "six degrees of musical separation" such an easy game to play if you know your stuff. They deserve a lot more credit than they get and should receive some on this album.

And what about the songwriters? Leiber and Stoller should be household names as should Goffin and King who produced an incredible string of hits and helped create rock and pop as we know it. Boyce and Lee are another much overlooked partnership as are Weil and Mann, a husband and wife duo who are still writing songs together as husband and wife, fifty years after they were married. How many people do you know who could admire gold records on their golden wedding anniversary? 

There are a lot of people who deserve credit for the music on Back to Mono but Spector's name is on the spine and his face is on the box. Is that really fair?

If you can overlook the fact that sole credit for this collection has been given to a psycopathic narcissist who has so far murdered one wife and a Beatles album, there's a lot to love on this disc for a fan of sixties pop. Dozens of the songs will be immediately familiar (To Know him is to love him, Spanish Harlem, Da Doo Ron Ron, Chapel of Love, Then he Kissed me, Be My Baby, You've lost that lovin feelin, Unchained melody, River Deep Mountain High etc etc) and it's definitely not short of hits. The question is do you need some of the lesser known songs which pad out the running length. Does anyone need to hear Black Pearl by Sonny Charles and the Checkmates? 

If you love this stuff then there's a lot of this stuff to love. If you find it hard to deal with then even a single disc compilation will be too much but four whole CD's worth is almost unbearable. But while you're listening, take the time to appreciate the people who didn't get their name on the front of the box. 

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "I have no idea whether Mr. Spector is guilty of the serious charges against him, but he stands convicted of allowing his retrospective box to be released with some of the muddiest, dullest mastering in memory."

-Turns out he was guilty of those charges, and the mix on this box is only his third biggest crime behind Let It Be and that murder thing.

So is this enough Phil or Phar Phar too much? Let me know below.

1 comment:

  1. we all have indulges. Maybe Spector is one of mine. I think I like the history of music and he is a major figure in it. that wall of sound, the roster of session muso,s , the quality songwriters etc. Shame about the nutter in the booth.