Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A "forgotten oldie" and mini-symphony

ROUTE 1 reader Brian C. calls them "forgotten oldies," once-popular songs that have slipped from the public consciousness and rarely, if ever, make it onto present-day oldies-radio playlists.
I have been listening to one such forgotten oldie about a dozen times during the past two days.
Phil Spector produced Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep-Mountain High" in
1966, then retreated from the public eye following that single's relative lack of success.
In 1969, Spector decided to make a brief return to the music business
and he signed a production deal with A&M Records.
A Ronettes single ("You Came,
You Saw, You Conquered") flopped, but then the man behind the famed "Wall of Sound" returned to the charts with a remarkable song.
"Black Pearl," by Sonny Charles and the Checkmates, Ltd., begins slowly, like some symphonies, before bursting out of the speakers in full-blown glory.
It is instantly recognizable as a Spector production: Why use a dozen-person chorus when a 100-member chorus is available? Why use one orchestra when you can employ three orchestras?
The glorious result? "Black Pearl" sounds like a mini-symphony, and the ode to a domestic servant reached No. 13 on the charts.

Spector's A&M deal was short-lived, however, and he would move on to controversially produce The Beatles' "Let it Be."


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