Today 06:06 PM

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.
Today 05:20 PM

Cameo from large band to 3 members. Why?

Does anyone know why Cameo went from being a large band to a 3 man entity (I did notice other musicians who were not featured in promo photos). I was hoping that Unsung would feature them but it never happened. I always wondered why Wayne Cooper left and why the others followed.
Today 04:38 PM

Kent soul in the 1960s


Do you remember Kent/Modern Records from the 1960s. I really liked their output. Now there's a new compilation of their product, but not the best, I'm afraid:


Best regards
Today 04:55 PM

Phil Spector - Part F - "Apple Records"

In 1969, when Phil Spector was launching his A&M productions, The Beatles began sessions for an album they hoped would restore a more straightforward approach to their music. Their recent singles, "Get Back" and "Lady Madonna", had already turned them in that direction.

By 1970, however, The Beatles were in disarray. Paul had outgrown the group and was working on his first solo album; John had just released "Cold Turkey", following "Give Peace A Chance" which set the wole world singing; Ringo had made the "Sentimental Journey" album which could only have only been intended as a present for his parents; and George, although "Something" had been a huge success, still seemed restricted to Beatles' B-sides and two cuts per album.

Given the working title "Get Back", sessions for the new album proved difficult as the individual Beatles continued to move toward separate careers. The sessions dissolved into dissension, with John and Paul at each other's throat, and the unfinished tapes were deemed unworthy of release.

Phil Spector, whose relationship with The Beatles had been maintained through intermittent exchanges of congratulation over the years, had been recommended by The Beatles manager, Allen Klein, who was also a friend of Phil Spector, to undertake the task of preparing the "Get Back" tapes for release. The resulting album, "Let It Be", proved to be The Beatles' final package of new material, meeting with a barrage of criticism from the rock press and Beatles fans alike, accusing Spector of ruining The Beatles sound. The track, "The Long And Winding Road", received the most outrageous criticism of Spector's work. Deemed as "mushy and over-produced" by some critics, the record boasts a bigness that seems fitting for the group's farewell release. The original demo, which used a piano to create a scaling effect, was greatly improved upon by the addition of an orchestra and string passages. Spector combined these with a chorus that could easily stand in for a heavenly host.

Despite less-than-enthusiastic reviews for Phil's production, the album sold several million copies. Harrison and Lennon were sufficiently impressed to request Phil's services for their first solo efforts. Their results were impressive as well. In hindsight, those who have since heard the pre-Spector versions of the material appearing on various bootlegs over the years, know that he salvaged an otherwise unmarketable product and should be commended for it.

[NOTE: The above intro from Jack Fitzpatrick's "Collecting Phil Spector" and Richard Williams' "Out Of His Head: The Sound Of Phil Spector".]
Today 09:51 AM
Today 03:26 AM


A complete soulful masterpiece. Quality control did not do their job. This is what their career should have been composed of. Sad Norman did what he did. https://youtu.be/WNOmeiVEMR0


Ralph Terrana

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