Purists might argue that Phil Spector’s work is inimitable, but that has never stopped the legions of his disciples from doing their damnedest to duplicate it, often very convincingly, as illustrated again in this, the third installment in our “Phil’s Spectre” series.
The collection actually does triple duty, being not only A THIRD WALL OF SOUNDALIKES, as its subtitle declares, aimed at Spector devotees, but also offering plenty to the overlapping fan bases of Jack Nitzsche enthusiasts and Northern Soul aficionados.
The work of Spector’s revered Arranger-in-Chief, Nitzsche, is covered in our “The Jack Nitzsche Story” series, and he has his hand in three further stunning examples here. The Satisfactions’ re-recording of Hale and the Hushabyes’ version of Yes Sir, That’s My Baby has a remixed backing track that drops the bass vocal and trades Edna Wright’s lead for Gracia Nitzsche’s. Daniel A Stone turns in a soulful cover of the Spector-Pomus tune Young Boy Blues; both numbers are heard here for the first time. And in Judy Henske’s Let The Good Times Roll (which appears in a previously unissued alternate mix), Nitzsche manages to out-Spector the master’s own production of Bob B Soxx and the Blue Jeans’ rendition of the song.
Jerry Ganey’s celebrated and impossible-to-find double-sider is a perfect example of Wall of Sound meets Northern Soul; after years of licensing challenges, we’re able to open and close this collection with the two knockout tracks. Northern fans will also flip for the Dan Folger and Barbara Jackson cuts. The Ashes’ Is There Anything I Can Do and The Kit Kats’ That’s The Way bring the signature Spector sound to the folk-rock genre.
Spector’s work with the Righteous Brothers ranks among his most sublime, and has inspired just as many wannabes as the steamrolling sonic assaults, such as Da Doo Ron Ron, for which he’s better known. The duo itself is spotlighted here, as on the two previous volumes, along with highly derivative tracks by George ’n’ Sonny Sands and Jerry Ganey, both of whose contributions were written and produced by Brother Bill Medley.
If you prefer your faux Spector at a more galloping pace, there’s a veritable stampede on offer, and for the most part it’s the gals’ turn here. High-velocity records legendary (and generally unaffordable) in the concentric circles of girl-group and Spector collectors include those by the Castanets, Alice Wonder Land, Merry Clayton, the Girlfriends, and Alder Ray.
This latest installment of the “Phil’s Spectre” saga has it all: rarities, hits, drama, excitement, a thorough and lushly-designed booklet with notes by Mick Patrick, and, most importantly, some of the most compelling music you’ll ever hear. Because of the amount of studio time his perfectionism demanded, Phil Spector was only able to produce a relatively small number of masterpieces in his time. Thanks to the power and influence of those records, though, those in his sway have added innumerable contributions along the way, and the music lover’s world is a much better place for it.
By David A. Young