Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews

SPECTOR — Phil Spector Presents the Philles Album Collection – Columbia/Legacy Edition

The redoubtable Phil Spector – part promoter, part impresario, songwriter, genius, madman.

Published on October 3, 2011

SPECTOR — Phil Spector Presents the Philles Album Collection – Columbia/Legacy Edition

SPECTOR — Phil Spector Presents the Philles Album Collection – Columbia Legacy Edition – (7 CDs) c. 280 minutes total ****:

Anyone who lived through the early ‘60s could not avoid hearing the songs of these groups produced by the redoubtable Phil Spector – part promoter, part impresario, songwriter, genius, madman. This collection is notable in two respects: its seven discs reproduce the greatest hits that Spector produced, along with many of the clunkers. The discs also are exact replicas of the LPs as they were released. For example, there are three albums by The Crystals: The Crystals Twist Uptown; He’s a Rebel; and The Crystals Sing the Greatest Hits, Vol. 1. (Apparently, there never was a Vol. 2.) Bear in mind that not all the songs on these three albums are unique. The same version of “Uptown,” for example, appears on all three albums, and there are duplications of other tunes, such as the group’s number one hit, “He’s a Rebel.” Not until the late ‘60s did the concept of producing an album of all unique songs become de rigueur. 

The set includes the oddly entertaining disc Phil’s Flipsides – The Phil Spector Wall of Sound Orchestra. From the ‘50s through the ‘70s, the flipside of a 45 RPM record was the equivalent of the opening act for the main attraction. It was a song that the group (or the studio musicians) churned out to fill up that second side, and was often artistically inferior. This was not always the case, as some flipsides became the hits. (“Maggie May” by Rod Stewart was originally the B-side of “Reason To Believe.”). Against type, most of the cuts on the Spector B-sides disc are amusing or enjoyable, such as “Dr. Kaplan’s Office” originally on the flipside of Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans’ “Why Do Lovers Break Each Others’ Hearts.” It’s a perky instrumental, like the others on this disc, and features a funky saxophone ostinato and assorted hootings. “Chubby Danny,” the flipside of Veronica’s “Why Don’t They Let Us Fall in Love” is a drum solo followed by a frenetic piano coda.

Some of Spector’s other engineering feats border on the truly bizarre. For the record Presenting The Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica, he engineered the Ronettes singing the Ray Charles tune “What’d I Say” to sound like a live recording, complete with background sounds and noisy applause. Speaking of the Ronettes, I was always perplexed by a line from their greatest hit, “Be My Baby”: “For every kiss you give me, I’ll give you three.” Now if these lovers were really kissing, wouldn’t he be kissing her at the same time? So wouldn’t that geometrically increase the amount of kisses she owed him? At the time this tune came out (1963), I dearly yearned for such a paradox (particularly with Ronnie Spector).

TrackList:

Disc 1: The Crystals Twist Uptown
Disc 2: He’s a Rebel
Disc 3: Zip-A Dee-Doo-Dah – Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans
Disc 4: The Crystals Sing the Greatest Hits, Vol. 1
Disc 5: Philles Records Presents Today’s Hits
Disc 6: Presenting The Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica 6. African
Disc 7: Phil’s Flipsides – The Phil Spector Wall of Sound Orchestra

—Peter Bates




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