This second fabulous collection of Phil Spector Soundalikes serves to underline the depth and breadth of the effect that the producer's work had on the music industry in the 60s. Whilst we think readily of ambitious in-your-face Wall Of Sound rumbling re-creations in the wake of his hits, there was actually a good degree of subtlety in Spector's work that was eagerly taken up by the young and open-minded producers of the day. This collection offers examples of both the kitchen sink approach and the finer and lighter touches. when spaces in the sounds and delicate electric bass or percussive use lifted a record every bit as much as the power sounds.
Volume Two of Phil's Spectre offers examples that have been influenced by various phases of Spector's golden hit period. Mary Wells' One Block From Heaven and the Righteous Brothers' self-produced Night Owl draw from 1962/3 when Phil was beginning to build the full sound with the early Crystals releases, and at the other end of the spectrum Joe South's Don't You Be Ashamed (To Call My Name) owes everything to River Deep Mountain High, including lyrics and melody! By the time Spector hit with the Crystals and The Ronettes biggest hits, the industry was ready to churn out the inevitable and time-honoured copyist sounds. However, in his case it was not so easy, for not only were the combination of sounds, arrangements and studio ambiance difficult to replicate, but the pomp and extravagance of Spector's productions inspired other producers to greater heights. Quick rip-offs were not, and could not be, on the table.
Nevertheless companies did rush to get soundalike product on the market like the effervescent Ya Gotta Take A Chance from the Bonnets, and the upside of this was that new young producers began to realise the possibilities that lay before them. Brian Wilson's recording of I Do, here in its Beach Boys version, Nino Tempo's on Noreen Corcoran's Dreamin' Of You and his and April Stevens' The Habit Of Lovin' You Baby, and the young Van McCoy's super seductive production of Gee What A Boy with the Fantastic Vantastics were all fine examples of how Spector had widened the scope and position of producer. Each track took inspiration from Phil, but held back from slavishly copying, and this approach was continued when Spector himself moved towards more subtlety in arrangement with the Ronettes' Walkin' In the Rain. This move paved the way for some of the strongest tracks included here: Reparata & The Delrons' I'm Nobody's Baby Now, Eight Feet's Bobby's Come A Long Long Way, and the restrained power of Clydie King's The Thrill Has Gone.
When the Righteous Brothers' hit worldwide with You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' a whole new set of soundalikes followed in its wake, and the best are included here: the Knickerbockers' Wishful Thinking, the Dreamlovers' You Gave Me Somebody To Love (written by Spector collaborators Anders and Poncia), Kane and Abel's Break Down And Cry and the much rarer Bobby Coleman with (Baby) You Don't Have To Tell Me.
This spendidly annotated compilation offers a collector's delight, and proves conclusively that Spector's influence was much more than a slam-bam massed Wall Of Sound. He helped introduce radical studio approaches that others recognised to provide impetus to produce fabulous records of their own, as these 24 tracks testify.
(Kingsley Abbott's Phil Spector Reader, Wall Of Sound, featuring many articles old and new about Phil's musical career will shortly be published by Helter Skelter Publishing)
by Kingsley Abbott