“A Christmas Gift for You”-Phil Spector`s classic-a Supreme Stocking Stuffer!

December 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Music

Phil Spector xmasA Christmas Gift for YouPhil Spector`s classic yuletide album-was released on November 22nd, 1963. Initially, it had a lukewarm reception; that`s can be attributed to the somber mood of the country. Yet it kept coming back for more as a favorite holiday jubilee, that could cheer the spirits of Americans exceedingly during each holiday season. It is Brian Wilson`s absolute favorite record. The thing that sets it apart, is its production quality, Phil Spector`s ‘Wall of Sound’ with a hundred guitar overdubs and zillions of vocal overdubs that make it sound like the Tabernacle Choir wafting from a mountain.

Several of the songs are the definitive cuts (as far as I am concerned) of Christmas classics, like Frosty the Snowman featuring the Ronettes and Winter Wonderland with Darlene Love on vocals. That song topped the ASCAP 25 greatest Christmas songs, released inPhil Spector with Stones 2007. The tune was written in 1934 by Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith, and described a frosted over park. “In the meadow we can build a snowman, the pretend that he is Parson Brown. He`ll say ‘are you married?’ we`ll say ‘no man,’ but you can do the job when you`re in town.”

Poor Phil is in The Big House, probably for the rest of his days. But joyous holiday revelers on ‘the outside’ will be cranking up this vinyl slab of joy, which acts as a booster by which we can savor the season. Oh, & another thing, The Crystals` Santa Claus is Coming to Town is also the definitive version. And I learned just today, that Apple Records released this album in 1972. I`ll have to check with my buddy, Bucks Burnett, to see if he has any of these priceless platters laying around! Maybe a sobbing Phil will hear his masterpiece behind iron bars? (source-Wiki) P.S. Don`t you dig that shot of Phil and The Stones? P.S.S. This is my second all time favorite Christmas Album!

Gifted Songwriter, Ellie Greenwich, Dies At 68

August 31, 2009 by  
Filed under Music

Ellie GreenwichEllie Greenwich, an important songwriter from the Brill Building school, died last Wednesday in Manhattan of pneumonia, at the age of 68. She was a co-writer of such hits as Be My Baby, River Deep-Mountain High, and the Shangri-Las` Leader of the Pack.

Ellie Greenwich got her start in 1962 with Trio Music, a company started by the brilliant songwriting partners, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Ellie also collaborated much with Phil Spector, who recorded and produced many of her songs for his slew of artists, such as The Ronettes, Darlene Love, and even Ike and Tina Turner. She is also credited with discovering Neil Diamond, who was just a down-on-his-luck songwriter in those days.

Ellie Greenwich has made significant contributions to American pop music. My favorite is Hanky Panky by Tommy James & The Shondells. What is your favorite? *(thanks to Wiki and The New York Times Obituary, 8/28/2009).

Wigged Out! Phil Spector Makes A Beeline To The Big House

June 2, 2009 by  
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phil1Phil Spector was a role model for me in music as I was growing up. His achievements in music were impressive, with such top ten hits as; “Be My Baby,” “He`s A Rebel,” and “You`ve Lost That Lovin` Feelin`” by the Righteous Brothers. This song, according to BMI, has had the most radio airplay in the 20th Century. And did you know that Phil Spector produced the original version of “Twist and Shout” sung by The Top Notes? So, even though his murder conviction for the shooting of actress Lana Clarkson is old hat, I was still shocked by the sentencing news last Friday. It had finality to it; Spector will certainly spend the remainder of his life in jail.

When and why did Phil stray from ‘the beaten path’? We have heard of his violence towards women for years, where he would brandish guns if they dared to leave his presence. There are even claims that he played Russian Roulette with some of these ladies; five of them escaped with empty gun chambers, but Lana got it in the head with a live round. I have my own theory of a ‘trigger’ that caused Phil to go wrong. He was in a serious car crash in Hollywood on March 31st, 1974, and sustained head injuries that required 300 stitches to the face and 400 stitches to the back of the head. This is why he donned wigs so often; to cover-up the brutal scars on his noggin.

His genius was gone; he was now the ‘living dead.’ I don`t believe that Phil Spector ever really recovered from this accident. Still I am genuinely sad; he produced so many fabulous pop records. “Let It Be” had three # 1 hits: “Get Back,” “The Long and Winding Road,” and “Let It Be!” And did you know that Phil plays the drug pusher in “Easy Rider?” He even had a cameo in “I Dream of Jeannie!” And for me, his Christmas album, “A Christmas Gift For You,” which was released on the day of JFK`s assassination, is the all-time best Christmas record ever. So we will play our old P.S. records, marvel at the ‘Wall of Sound’, and wonder just how did the ‘milk go sour’?