Various Artists

Phil's Spectre: A Wall of Soundalikes

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You could fill a box set with fairly accurate, decent-to-great Phil Spector imitations. There are "only" 24 of them (all from 1963-1967) on the Phil's Spectre: A Wall of Soundalikes compilation, but it's certainly a good, and never less than interesting, selection of Son-of-Wall-of-Sound productions from the '60s. Only one of these (the Righteous Brothers' majestic "(You're My) Soul and Inspiration") was a big hit, and though some of the others did pretty well (Nino Tempo & April Stevens's "All Strung Out" and Sonny & Cher's "Just You"), it's likely that most of these singles will be unfamiliar to all but the upper-tier '60s collector. Which is one of the set's strengths: you'll be surprised how much Spectorish pop was made in the mid-'60s, and also be surprised how good some of it was, though some of it's only ordinary. The best of the batch include Jackie DeShannon's original 1963 version of "When You Walk in the Room," covered for a British Invasion hit by the Searchers; the Beach Boys' cover of "Why Do Fools Fall in Love," initially buried on a 1964 B-side; and the Walker Brothers' lush "Love Her," which was a fair-sized hit in Britain. Obscure, not-so-great sides by the Supremes ("Run, Run, Run") and Gene Pitney ("Tremblin'") also make the cut. But some of the finest treasures here are the songs that hardly anyone's ever heard of, like Alder Ray's "A Little Love (Will Go a Long Way)" (a dead ringer for a 1963 single by the Crystals or Darlene Love); the Four Pennies' "When the Boy's Happy (The Girl's Happy Too)" (actually the Chiffons under a different name); Dorothy Berry's David Gates-produced "You're So Fine"; Carol Connors's sexy "My Baby Looks, but He Don't Touch" (sung by the former lead vocalist of Spector's first hit, the Teddy Bears' "To Know Him Is to Love Him"); P.J. Proby's dramatic reading of Gerry Goffin and Carole King's "I Can't Make It Alone"; and the Dolls' "And That Reminds Me" (a great tune produced by rockabilly great Dale Hawkins). And there could be no more dead-on Righteous Brothers imitation than Kane & Abel's "He Will Break Your Heart." There are plenty of other fine Spector soundalikes that don't show up here, and for further research on the minigenre, it's worth digging up such little-known goodies as Cher's "Dream Baby," Ellie Greenwich's "You Don't Know," the Girlfriends' "My One and Only Jimmy Boy," Shelley Fabares's "He Don't Love Me," and Roberta Day's "Someday." But Phil's Spectre: A Wall of Soundalikes is a good start.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:02
2 2:15
3 3:30
4 1:58
5 2:16
6 2:41
7 2:24
8 2:07
9 2:32
10 3:00
11 2:14
12 3:22
13 2:23
14 3:07
15 3:22
16 2:20
17 3:21
18 2:28
19 2:38
20 2:41
21 2:29
22
2:39
23 4:31
24 1:30
blue highlight denotes track pick