Modern Spector soundalike time again. This song is one of my all-time favorite modern soundalikes. It’s also a bit unusual in that it’s actually a cover version.
A bit of background info; after having Phil Spector produce their 1980 ‘End of the Century’ album, legendary punk rockers the Ramones we’re back with another longplayer the following year, – this time Graham Gouldman of 10CC fame manned the controls in an effort to avoid the tension, chaos and mind games that had dominated the Spector sessions. I absolutely can’t write about this without featuring a classic and partly hilarious scene with ‘da Bruddas’ venting their frustrations about Spector:
I love Dee Dees quote: “If he said if you’d wanna play his pinball machine, he’d let you play it for a minute and then he’d say ‘OK, everybody to another room!’…” Hard times indeed!
Anyways, the album with Gouldman producing was ‘Pleasant Dreams’. It was met with lukewarm response when it came out in 1981. At the time, the Ramones had officially disassociated themselves from Spector but his influence still loomed large on them. It’s aptly illustrated by the song ‘7/11’ off ‘Pleasant Dreams’ where the drums recreate the iconic ‘Be my Baby’ drumbeat a few times. It’s a nice enough song produced in fairly atypical subdued fashion for the Ramones. Pleasant, but not really anything extraordinary.
Fast forward 27 years to 2008 where Florida-based indie-pop trio the Postmarks released their second album, ‘By the Numbers’, – an all covers project where the songs covered all have numbers in their titles. Icluded was a truly mesmerizing cover of ‘7/11’ that just wipes the floor with the Ramones original. The production is marvelous and one of the more authentically sounding modern Spector soundalikes around.
These guys really did their homework! Wonderful warm-sounding drums that could easily be mistaken of being recorded at Gold Star, piercing castanets and a dramatic string arrangement. It’s a textbook example of how a well-executed Wall of Sound can pump up an ordinary song into sheer beauty. Basically, what Phil Spector did all the time in the 1960s.
Postmarks singer Tim Yehezkely is no Darlene Love but her understated, crystal pure vocal approach definitely has its charm. And on this song it adds an eerie, ice-cold feel to the tragic storyline played out in the lyrics.
The Postmarks’ own songs are well worth checking out by the way. Their most recent album, ‘Memoirs at the End of the World’, is a fantastic and at times cinematic piece of work with more than a nod towards the Wall of Sound on several tracks. I’ll probably feature an example in a later blog post.
Let’s get to it. Without further ado….
The Postmarks – 7/11 (2008)