"Be My Baby" announces its arrival with arguably the most dramatic introduction in all of rock & roll -- Hal Blaine's drums are the Morse code of the gods -- and somehow just keeps getting better from there; the quintessential Phil Spector production, it begins as the Wall of Sound but ends up a full-blown Taj Mahal, a gleaming sonic temple erected in eternal tribute to Ronettes frontwoman (and the future Mrs. Spector) Veronica Bennett. Hot on the heels of the classic "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Then He Kissed Me," "Be My Baby" unveils the complete scope of Spector's vision: a slow-burn pop symphony, it builds momentum with each passing verse, propelled by horse-gallop castanets and muted piano figures until it achieves maximum density in a majestic convergence of vocals, strings, horns, and thunderclap percussion. That Spector's most grandiose production to date would serve the least polished vocalist in his stable might seem like perverse irony, but in truth "Be My Baby" works because of Bennett, not in spite of her. While never a singer on par with, say, Darlene Love, her voice radiates pure baby-doll sexuality -- she somehow transforms the sweetly sappy sentiments of Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich's song into a veritable siren's call (her "whoa-oh-oh-oh" exclamations, reprised on the brilliant follow-up "Baby, I Love You," say it all), and the plaintive longing of the lyrics aside, there's never a moment of doubt that it's she who is the real object of desire here. Although it's been regularly covered in the years since, the Ronettes' original recording has never really gone away -- a staple of oldies radio, it's also something of a fixture on film soundtracks, used most effectively by Martin Scorsese over the opening credits of his early masterpiece Mean Streets before resurfacing over a decade later in the smash Dirty Dancing. No less an authority than Brian Wilson has declared "Be My Baby" the greatest pop record ever made -- no arguments here.