Phil Spector

Phil Spector's Flips and Rarities

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Certainly this is an unauthorized CD compilation of rare 1960s tracks that Phil Spector had something to do with, as either producer, songwriter, or even artist. There's no label (though there is a catalog), but it certainly does exist, and was, as of 2001, available for sale at specialized record stores with extremely deep stock. Just because Spector was involved in a record didn't necessarily mean it was good, and the merits of this 30-song anthology are extremely erratic, though there are some undoubted high points. Most of these are run-of-the-mill early-'60s tracks that weren't hits for a reason: The songs were trivial and not that hot. And most of them don't have an identifiably Spectoresque sound, in part because on several of them he was only involved as a songwriter, in part because some of them predate his true Wall of Sound techniques. Some of these cuts are good, or at least okay, like Gene Pitney's "Dream for Sale" (which actually isn't too rare), Bonnie & the Treasures' "Home of the Brave," April Stevens' breathy "Why Can't a Boy and Girl Just Stay in Love" (which Spector co-wrote with Nino Tempo), Johnny Nash's "World of Tears," and Veronica's "Why Don't They Let Us Fall in Love" (which is actually Ronnie Spector of the Ronettes). Sonny Charles & the Checkmates "Black Pearl" is very good, and was a pretty big hit in 1969, but why it's included here isn't too clear, as it's been officially released as part of Spector's Back to Mono box. There are also items that fall into the novelty realm, like the guitar instrumental "Bumbershoot" that Phil Spector cut under the alias Phil Harvey, and the ridiculous Crystals B-side "The Screw (Let's Dance)," a throwaway track interrupted by poker-faced admonitions to "do the screw" (spoken by Spector's lawyer). Overall this is interesting to acquire for dedicated Spector enthusiasts, but the utter lack of liner notes (though at least there are songwriting credits) is a major strike against its value. There are no clues as to why some tracks, like Santo & Johnny's "Spanish Harlem," are considered to have any Spector associations whatsoever. The sound quality is pretty good, but the tracks have almost certainly (sometimes quite audibly so) been taken from vinyl records rather than master tapes.

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