Today 05:13 AM

Phil Spector - Part E - "A&M Records"

Disenchanted with the music business, Phil Spector withdrew from record production for two years after the 1967 darkening of the lights at Philles Records. By 1969, however, he had grown bored with retirement, as well as with the state of pop music he was hearing on the radio. Phil was growing antsy!

Rather than reactivate his Philles label and operate as an independent again, Phil arranged a partnership deal with Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss' A&M Records which guaranteed big-time distribution AND his own A&M/Phil Spector Productions label and logo which pictured a caricature of a little man in a black cape and a top-hat representing Phil, himself. Especially instrumental in Phil's new partnership was recording engineer Larry Levine who had engineered nearly all of Phil's Philles sessions at Gold Star for 5 years running, and who was now working at A&M after having been hired to design A&M's new recording studios in the newly-renovated Charlie Chaplain Theatre on North La Brea Avenue near Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood.

Just as Jack Nitzsche had been Phil's right-hand man at the Gold Star sessions by writing out the musicians' sheet-music arrangements during Philles' heyday, Phil hired Perry Botkin, Jr., as his new music arranger for his A&M recordings. Perry Botkin was famous for his sweeping string passages which were his trademark, as were Phil's. In addition, Phil had also formed a new songwriting partnership with Toni Wine and Irwin Levine. Toni had composed the hit "Groovy Kind Of Love", and Irwin had written Gary Lewis & The Playboys' "This Diamond Ring". Together, they would provide hit material for Phil in 1969, and a string of hits for Tony Orlando & Dawn in the early '70s.

Everything sounded promising at A&M, as Phil was given 'carte blanche' to record anyone he liked. He had chosen a relatively unknown act who specialized in the music he understood best and loved most -- the black voice. The Checkmates, Ltd. were a mixed-race soul group featuring two strong black lead singers -- Bobby Stevens and Sonny Charles -- who alternated on lead vocals and who showed great promise. And Phil also honored wife Ronnie's pleading to get back into the studio by releasing a new Spector-Wine-Levine record billed as The Ronettes. He even released, for the first time ever, Ike & Tina Turner's aborted "River Deep" Philles LP with a slightly altered and improved track list.

Despite all this, including grand announcements of the A&M/Spector merger in all the important trade papers, Phil's return to the music scene was not exactly met with open arms as everyone had hoped. The Checkmates, Ltd.'s first single stalled at #69 on the charts, and the new release by The Ronettes sunk with barely a trace despite Spector/Wine/Levine's exciting melodious/lyrical composition, Perry's beautiful arrangement, Phil's top-notch production, and Ronnie's perfect performance. The Ike & Tina album also sold poorly. The Checkmates' next 45, however -- "Black Pearl" -- was a success, hitting #13 on the Billlboard Pop Chart and #8 on the R&B chart. With only one more single and an LP release by The Checkmates, Ltd., that was the extent of Phil Spector's 1969 stint at A&M Records.
Yesterday 10:30 PM

Classic Soul JAMS!

Today is my birthday and with each one I am blessed with I like to look back some. In this case I am looking back at some of the BEST Classic Soul Jams in my opinion. Are you with me? Here's a few that make the cut:

Eddie Floyd - Knock On Wood - 1966

Today 03:02 AM

Four Tops Second Album

This certainly was one the Tops’ strongest albums, with three songs becoming very successful singles: “I Can’t Help Myself,” “It’s The Same Old Song” and “Something About You.” But there are other tunes here that might have been successful singles. Does anyone know if Quality Control considered any others for release as A-side 45’s?
Today 02:54 AM

Marvin & Tammi- "You Got What It Takes" A VERY random thought not requiring response-

-unless you want to.

So if you have the stereo mix of the Marvin & Tammi "United" album, have you ever noticed that "You've Got What It Takes" starts out in stereo and ends in mono?
Yesterday 11:49 PM

Songs covered by different Motown Artist(s) that bested original on charts

"I Heard it Through the Grapevine" - GKATP and Marvin Gaye

"(I Know) I'm Losing You" - Temptations and Rare Earth

"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" - Marvin and Tammi and Diana Ross

"Get Ready" - Temptations and Rare Earth

are all instances where the 2nd version was bested by the 1st version on the Billboard Pop charts.

Were there any more songs released by Motown that accomplished this feat?
Yesterday 08:23 PM

60 and counting: The enduring Motown Sound

This appeared recently in the Detroit News. A great assortment of pictures covering a lot of great talent. Enjoy.



Ralph Terrana

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