Written Before Review
God damn…14 days in and they’ve already taken Bob Saget and Ronnie
Spector. The Ronettes were one of the best groups of the 60s without a doubt and I was upset to hear about this genuinely. After reviewing this on my podcast, decided to revisit it for SWM, and here we are. This one’s for you, Ronnie.
The thing that always gets music critics to adore this album is the production. This was probably the most essential album for Phil Spector as this album put his sound on the map. His music did have this Wall Of Sound style, but this was the first instance of this sound being popularized. The Wall Of Sound technique has evolved on so many levels. In the 60s, we had this album which was followed by The Beach Boys. In the 1970s, Phil Spector kept on going with the Wall Of Sound technique on George Harrison’s magnum opus, ‘All things Must Pass’. We then got Ramones, where their love for The Ronettes made their DIY Wall Of Sound attempt a common blueprint for mainstream punk. It wasn’t until the 80s where the Wall Of Sound became more and more prevalent. We had bands like The Jesus And Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, and even Oasis to an extent. As you can tell, the album’s production was carried on for generations, and rightfully so.
The instrumentation on this album is brought to you by yours truly, the Wrecking Crew. The gran instrumentation has multiple of all instruments. We have 5 piano players, 4 horn players, 2 bass players, 1 drummer, 5 guitarists, and 3 percussionists. The one drummer is Hal Blaine and a lot of his drum work is pretty underappreciated. He has great fills and to play over all of those musicians takes a lot of force to play that kit. Alongside Hal Blaine, we have some other notable names. One of the 5 guitarists is the legendary bassist Carol Kaye. One of the percussionists Is Sonny Bono of Sonny & Cher fame. All 21 members of the band are all talented enough to play in this huge band and Phil Spector took them everywhere to create hit records for groups like this.
Now let’s get to Ronnie. Ronnie has this super distinct voice that couldn’t be described. It’s distinct and it is super New Yorkian. It’s the perfect vocalist for Phil Spector. At the time, Ronnie Spector was known as Veronica Bennett and the Ronettes were her cousin Nedra Talley and her sister Estelle Bennett and the two singers were provided as two other pretty girls that could also sing. Despite that, Ronnie was the star, she was the lead performer of the group and the one that carried the group. Her vocal performances on songs like “Do I Love You”, “Be My Baby” and “So Young” make the songs the way they are. She’s passionate but also showy enough to be a 1960s female alpha.
Now let’s talk about the impact of this album. This album alone inspired not only other acts to use the Wall Of Sound technique, but use beautiful melodies and innocent topics to other levels. The Beach Boys are an obvious one but the Ramones are a band that made songs like “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” and “Blitzkrieg Bop” to take their style and subject matters to a punk style. The vocal timbre of Ronnie Spector could be compared to artists like Amy Winehouse. As you can see, The Ronettes have inspired multiple genres from their style of pop music and it continues to this day.
The tragedy behind this album is that The Ronettes never followed up this album. The reason is that their sound was stuck in the 60s. The Brill Building sound almost died out and it was like that until people like Amy Winehouse put their own spin on the sound. With that, the Girl Group pastiche also died along with it. With that being said, after this album came, their popularity did die down as they seemed to be one of those groups that “fell off” quickly. At the same time, everybody loved their music, enough so that they opened up for The Beatles in 1965, but they then decided to disband after the tour and what we have left is this gem of an album. After the breakup, Ronnie decided to pursue a solo career and was signed to Apple Records, the record label created by The Beatles, but her time there was short-lived. If you want to learn more about the post-breakup story, everything is out there, but right now, I just wanted to get what was needed.
Rest In Peace Ronnie Spector man, this sucks. This is easily one of my favorite releases in the early 60s (at least when it comes to pop music). The fact that 2/3 of them are dead already is truly unfortunate. With that being said, please listen to this album when you have the chance, it’s a big piece of music history.