Thursday, March 27, 2008

No. 427: Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica

Band: The Ronettes
Album: Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Led by Phil Spector's then-wife Ronnie, the Ronettes were the "dangerous" girl group. The band's harmonies and Spector-signature wall of sound made for girl group classics like "Chapel of Love," "Baby, I Love You" and "Be My Baby."
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: I like this placement. The girl group phase of American popular music is sometimes forgotten, but is well-represented in the list.
Best song: "Be My Baby" is a classic.
Worst song: "How Does It Feel?" isn't very good.
Is it awesome?: Yes.

Phil Spector is a giant in rock and roll history, though I wonder how many people actually know much about him. I imagine most people my age who know about him are only familiar with his ridiculous hair experiments and murder trial than his place in rock and roll.

With all that said, he was clearly a bad dude. He threatened his wife Ronnie and... well, I'll just quote a large chunk of our good friend Wikipedia:

Spector's domineering attitude led to the dissolution of their marriage. Bennett was forbidden to speak to the Rolling Stones or tour with the Beatles, for fear of infidelity. Bennett claims Spector showed her a gold coffin with a glass top in his basement, promising to kill and display her should she leave him. During Spector's reclusive period in the late 1960s, he reportedly kept his wife locked inside their mansion. She claimed he also hid her shoes to dissuade her from walking outside, and kept the house dark because he didn't want anyone to see his balding head. Spector's son later claimed that he was kept locked in his room, with a pot in the corner to be used as a toilet. Ronnie Spector did leave the producer and filed for divorce in 1972. She wrote a book about her experiences, and said years later, "I can only say that when I left in the early '70s, I knew that if I didn't leave at that time, I was going to die there" [3]. She and Spector separated in 1973 and divorced one year later.

That's O.J. territory, ladies and gentlemen. That's Ike territory. Not good.


As my astonishment of previous American culture continues, the Ronettes were considered "bad girls" in their time of popularity. They wore beehives, short skirts and heavy eyeliner. Today, if a singer wore a beehive, a short skirt and heavy eyeliner, she's be... Hmmm... Amy Winehouse. Is she a bad girl?

OK, so, don't answer that. My bigger point is that Amy Winehouse isn't a bad girl because she wears a beehive, dark eyeliner and a short skirt. She's a bad girl because she smokes crack, doesn't want to go to rehab (no, no, no).

Bad girls in 2008 use drugs and they go out sans panties and they make sex tapes with camera phones.


The Ronettes came at the end of the girl group phase of American popular music. The era wasn't long; Everyone seemed to fall off into Motown and the Beatles within a couple of years. This record culls the singles from the Ronettes -- Spector-produced Wall of Sound soundscapes that still sound resonant today. Ronnie's voice is exquisite on songs like "I Wonder" and Phil Spector's "Be My Baby" is his masterpiece of masterpieces.

Sadly, this album is way out of print. However, if you can get your hands on a Ronettes greatest hits compilation, get it. It's worth it.

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