Monday, December 3, 2007

Phil Spector before the fall

Many things contribute to the Christmas season, and I think most of us would agree that music plays a big role in adding to the holiday mood.

Legendary music producer Phil Spector is known more these days for his dramatic personal life than for the fact that he once created some wonderful music.

My favorite production of his is a Christmas album he made back in the early 60s with several artists. Titled 'A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector,' it is one of the best Christmas albums I own.

Working with the Ronettes, the Crystals, Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, and Darlene Love, he applied his Wall of Sound production technique to some well-known holiday classics like: 'White Christmas,' 'Frosty the Snowman,' and 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town.'

However, the best is Darlene Love singing 'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).' For years, David Letterman had Love come on his show and sing this song each holiday season. I don't know if he still does, but she always did a great job.

If you can find this in the discount bins somewhere, make sure to buy it. It is first rate.


Joltin' Django said...

Speaking of Christmas LPs, one of my all-time favorite bands, The Smithereens, recently released their first Christmas album:

Mary Beth said...

The entire Phil Spector box set is great. Check it out:

You can hear little clips of the songs: I especially like Every Breath I Take (Gene Pitney) and River Deep, Mountain High (Ike and Tina Turner, except with no Ike!)

To hear a weird one, listen to He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss) by the Crystals. To my surprise, Phil Spector didn't write it -- it was Goffin and King -- but my current understanding suggests that it's the kind of sentiment Spector would endorse.

Another interesting Spector fact: He is one of the Teddy Bears, and to my knowledge is singing backup ("and I do") on To Know Him is to Love Him. He was in high school when he wrote and sang this song: he was inspired by his dad's tombstone, which is engraved with "To have known him is to have loved him."

Chris said...

Good info, Mary Beth. Thanks.