Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The CD Player takes over!

Thank God! Now maybe we'll at least get some decent sounds going in here....

Ronettes -- Be My Baby, Baby I Love You, I Wonder, Walking in the Rain, I Can Hear Music, You Came You Saw You Conquered.
Crystals -- Uptown, There's No Other Like My Baby.
Righteous Brothers -- You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling.
Ike and Tina Turner -- River Deep Mountain High.
Turtles -- Sound Asleep, Grim Reaper of Love, Chevrolet Camaro Commercial.
Brenda and the Tabulations -- One Girl Too Late.
Nigel Olsson -- Only One Woman.
Gong -- Oily Way.
It Bites -- The Old Man and the Angel.

Lenny Kaye's excellent liner notes to BE MY BABY: THE VERY BEST OF THE RONETTES start out: "This is the sound of yearning." Damn straight it is. Between the Ronettes and their producer Phil Spector, they create a vision of love so pure, so perfect, so wonderous, so overwhelming it's almost angelic, heavenly.
TAD's always been a sucker for "Girl Groups," but BE MY BABY is stunning. The clarity of these recently remastered CD's (The Ronettes' and Spector's BEST OF) really brings out Hal Blaine's powerhouse drumming, the glockenspiels and chimes and Spector's ever-present castanets. And those huge backup choirs. But for maybe the first time ever, everything's crystal-clear and ... separate. You can actually HEAR the individual parts. Did you know there was a harpsichord buried under the Cast Of Thousands in the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling"? Neither did we.
"Be My Baby"'s a timeless classic of course, but why wasn't "Baby I Love You" a bigger hit? And "I Wonder" is really marvelous, breathtaking -- and it wasn't a hit either, and oldies radio never plays it. "Walking in the Rain" is also charming and has that usual big Spector production.
The only disappointment we heard on Tuesday was "I Can Hear Music," which, because it wasn't produced by Spector, doesn't have the usual overwhelming production. It was produced by Jeff Barry, and sounds sorta like a warmup for Barry's later "Sugar Sugar." There's actually TOO MUCH room for Ronnie Spector's vocals here -- something we never would've thought possible before. Because she doesn't sound like she's drowning, there's no drama. The production's a little thin, not claustrophobic enough. And the Tijuana Brass horn fanfares don't help, either. No surprise this peaked at #100 on the BILLBOARD singles chart. The Beach Boys' version is WAY better.
"You Came, You Saw, You Conquered" is more like it, with Phil back in the producer's chair and those huge swelling choruses.
The Crystals' "Uptown" is also pretty charming. Spector's first single on his own Philles label, "There's No Other" is also very nice but too short. Easy to see that the Beach Boys were paying homage to this in their later version on BEACH BOYS PARTY!
"Lovin' Feeling" came on before TAD had a chance to shut it off. All he could do was laugh and surrender to the inevitable. It's a timeless classic, of course, and it still packs a huge punch. And in that pause for breath near the end, you can hear lotsa backing instruments you couldn't hear before, plus Hal Blaine knocking around on water jugs and whatever else they had in the studio. And the finish is HUGE -- and clearer than ever.
Speaking of huge -- "River Deep, Mountain High" hits harder than ever now, and it no longer seems like Tina's screeching to be heard through the Wall Of Sound. A criminally overlooked classic. All of these are from WALL OF SOUND: THE VERY BEST OF PHIL SPECTOR 1961-1966.
"Sound Asleep" is still hilariously trippy and should've been a way-bigger hit -- and how about the quacking-duck chorus it goes out on? "Grim Reaper of Love" is still grim and driving and should've been a way-bigger hit; and the Chevy Camaro Commercial is the funniest car comedy since Jan and Dean. All from SAVE THE TURTLES!: GREATEST HITS. Only two complaints: There's 20 songs included on the CD -- why aren't the gorgeous "Lady-O" and the cheery "We'll Meet Again" on here?!
"One Girl Too Late" was co-written and co-produced by Van McCoy (who did "The Hustle"), and is light and pleasant early-'70s girl-group stuff, not unlike a less-glitzy Diana Ross and the Supremes. Probably not the Lost Classic Of The Ages that TAD had hoped for, but nice.
"Only One Woman" was written by the Bee Gees, and you can hear their influence in the way it's arranged. Very pleasant and uplifting forgotten single from Elton John's drummer -- sounded exactly the way TAD remembered from the one time he heard it in a noisy pizza joint in Boise, Idaho, in early 1975. Definitely a lost classic.
I still completely refused to play Gong's "Oily Way" and clogged up repeatedly about 10 seconds into It Bites' "The Old Man and the Angel." TAD doesn't need to disappear back to his progressive-rock period -- we've just recently brought him to the point where he can almost hear CURRENT stuff. Nostalgia, fine. Prog, no.
After that I just got confused and wouldn't play ANYTHING. And I'm not even going to TALK about the few times I tried to take off one of his fingers by slamming the CD drawer shut before he was ready for it....
But TAD still got a couple hours of music out of me. Not sure what more he expected ... ed ... ed ... ed ... ddd ...

...& that's clearly enuf of THAT. I'm back in charge now, with both of my hands firmly on the controls here at the Back-Up Plan, & don't let NEbody or NE THING make you think I'm NOT.
HAVE actually bn listening 2 some fairly new stuff recently -- and the place I'm hearing the best new music is on LITTLE STEVEN'S UNDERGROUND GARAGE, a syndicated retro rock&roll radio show that runs from 10 pm 2 midnight every Sun nite, where I'm at. I've Bcome addicted 2 the show since July.
Recent great music Little Steven's played includes Butch Walker and the Black Widows' powerful & poignant "Day Drunk," a follow-up to their recent "Summer of '89," with some absolutely great choruses -- great playing and marvelous group vocals by this bunch; Tom Morello's driving "Black Sparticus Heart Attack Machine"; Sir Reg's hilarious Irish-punk "Bollocksology"; J.P. Soars' silly blues "Doggin'"; Spanking Charlene's "Canarsie" (great guitars & driving choruses); and of course the Launderettes' "Red River." But I wish Steven would get back to Spanking Charlene's hilarious "Dismissed with a Kiss"....
Some great OLDER stuff Steven's played lately would include the Supremes' "Doctor Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine" (the SILLIEST thing I EVAH hoid!), the Hollies' "Look Through Any Window," & the Ronettes' "I Wonder"....
Not everything Steven plays is great, but a lot of it's at least intresting, & I almost always LEARN something from his shows. There was even a show a coupla weeks back that was suprisingly flat, not sure what went wrong there, 2 much stuff I already knew, or just the wrong music 4 me. But usually it's a really superb 2 hrs, & it is by far the best thing on the radio around here....

Have bn slowly making my way thru Chuck Eddy's ROCK AND ROLL ALWAYS FORGETS (a sorta best-of collection, 2011) & a re-read of his earlier STAIRWAY TO HELL: THE 500 BEST HEAVY METAL ALBUMS IN THE UNIVERSE (updated version, 1998). And I realize now that I made some errors while briefly mentioning these 2 books a month or so back. I'll try 2 correct those in a real review of both coming up soon.
The thing about STAIRWAY that suprised me most on re-reading is how much of the music mentioned in it I've heard & Njoyed -- & I'm not much of a metal fan. But then, Eddy's definition of "metal" is pretty wide-open. This book is a lotta fun, & tho Eddy's high-speed style might Xhaust you, there R lotsa laffs & I'm learning a lot....

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