In my first post I promised I’d use this blog to highlight some of the modern Spector soundalikes I’ve hunted down through the years as a sort of hobby of mine.
I struggle to find the right term for these. Modern Spector soundalikes? Faux Spector? Neo-walls? Little symphonies for the 21st Century? The old Phil Spector Appreciation Society out of the UK called the soundalikes they discovered ‘Erect-a-Spectors!’
Meh,… nothing really seems fitting. I guess I’ll just stick with Modern Spector Soundalikes for now, – the modern part being of great importance to me as you can find soundalikes from each decade.
What I’ve focused my collecting on then, are the soundalikes that have occasionally popped up since the mid 90s. I guess they do so as each new generation of aspiring musicians discover Spector’s hits and try to dress up a song with the Wall of Sound for fun.
Others have of course milked the Spector influence on numerous songs. Spiritualized, the Raveonettes and others have done so with great success. As have the brooding, Swedish chanteuse Lykke Li on her last two albums, Wounded Rhymes (2011) and I Never Learn. (2014)
The Spector influence shown in Lykke Li’s work is quite subtle but occasionally breaks through in full effect. A prime example is her stunning ‘Sadness is a Blessing’ single. Note; There’s a 1 minute and 50 seconds scene in the video before the song begins.
‘Sadness is a Blessing’ is a great example of the treasures you’ll discover when you look for these modern soundalikes. It’s the Wall of Sound for the new millennium with Be my Baby-like drums that are (probably) electronically programmed and none of those dramatic strings that were so crucial to the Spector sound. But even if the instrumental approach is different, ‘Sadness is a Blessing’ as a song isn’t far removed from the rough Brill Building demos Spector lavishly inflated with sonic beauty in the studio. The melody is extremely catchy and Lykke Li’s dark lyrics also mirror some of Spector’s more masochistically-themed mini dramas.
To these ears, ‘Sadness is a Blessing’ is like a latter-day cousin of ‘He Hit Me (and it Felt Like a Kiss)’ or ‘Please Hurt Me’:
“I ranted, I pleaded, I beg him not to go / For sorrow, the only lover I’ve ever known
“Sadness is a blessing, sadness is a pearl / Sadness is a boyfriend, oh sadness, I’m your girl.”