The Ronettes

Greatest Hits

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This collection, a pirate from Italy that seems to be legal under the copyright laws there, only contains 15 songs, putting it at a seeming disadvantage next to the authorized Best of the Ronettes. That is, until you hear it -- for starters, it's in stereo! Now, that's not supposed to be the way that Spector intended these to be heard, but the 15 tracks here sound more like the original records than the equivalent songs on the authorized release, with the authentic Phil Spector "Wall of Sound" compression on the bass and the mid-range, the same marvelous sound that used to flow out of a 50-cent transistor radio speaker like something beyond music, like it was hooked directly into a passionate and angst-filled female soul (which it was, in this case Ronnie Spector's), all intact. It hits you here the way fans always wanted this stuff to -- check out the drums and the richness of the vocal textures on "I Wonder," and the thick tone of the strings when they come in at the end; Ronnie Spector's up-close-and-personal singing on "Do I Love You," and the bells chiming under the Spector-ized backing; and the horns, bells, chorus with reverb, and Spector's voice all in perfect balance on "Walking In the Rain." What the sources were is anyone's guess, but the "Baby I Love You" mastering here is of demonstration quality, the strumming of the acoustic guitar on an equal footing with the vocal and instrumental overdubs going on all around it. And "Is This What I Get for Loving You," which has always been an obvious direct model for large sections of Brian Wilson's production on Pet Sounds, comes off as clean and sharp here as the remastered Pet Sounds. The whole CD is a gem, and an essential addition to any serious Phil Spector collection.