A while back I wrote a blog post about the interesting wealth of obscure Spector soundalikes issued during the 1960s. You can check out the post here:
For anyone interested in digging deeper than Phil Spector’s catalog, hardcore record collector Anthony Reichardt’s YouTube channel is a godsend.
Over several decades Anthony has amassed a truly mindblowing collection of rare singles that display the widespread influence of Spector’s sound on the 60s music industry. Luckily for us, rather than sit on his incredible collection, Anthony has set up his channel to share his love of all things Wall of Sound and the ‘feel’ of the famed echo chambers of LA’s Gold Star Studios.
Anthony’s YouTube channel isn’t limited to the Wall of Sound but also includes fantastic 60s releases within the realm of girl group pop, Northern Soul, novelty songs, blue-eyed soul and much, much more. It’s an out-and-out treasure trove. Look inside and you’ll get a glimpse into a parallel dimension where any of the featured releases could have been hits.
As if the fact that Anthony shares this fantastic music with other fans isn’t great enough, each upload is also graced by as much background information and rare images as possible. Regularly checking out Anthony’s channel is therefore a bit like entering a virtual music class with fascination insights offered with each upload.
A dream scenario would be for some enterprising company to issue a Gold Star Studios box set with Anthony as a consultant and liner notes writer. Iconic studios like Abbey Road, Fame or Studio One have each had their own releases. So why not one documenting the distinct Gold Star sound and its key role in Los Angeles challenging New York as the 60s US pop capital?
At least we have Anthony’s channel to fill this gap and return to time and again for daily doses of echo. And truth be told – Anthony’s channel is way more comprehensive than any physical release could be unless were talking something of Bear Family-like proportions.
I’ve been interested in learning more about Anthony’s collecting and personal favorites and he has kindly agreed to answer some questions for Cue Castanets.
So Anthony, how and when did you get introduced to the Wall of Sound and music recorded at Gold Star studios?
Back in the 1960’s, I received a small record player for Christmas with some various Christmas themed LP’s. When I grew tired of those, my parents said that I could play their record albums if I was careful with them. My mom & dad were in a record club which was popular in those days, and had a regular shipment of LP’s arrive at the house every month.
Two albums of theirs that stood out and had an impact on me were ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ by The RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS on Philles and ‘All I Really Want To Do’ by CHER on Imperial. The ‘sound’ of those two albums mesmerized me even as a youngster. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I figured out that those two albums were recorded at Gold Star.
What was it that attracted you to this particular type of music?
The ECHO! It did and still does captivate me. There was something different about the Gold Star echo and it was easily identifiable to me as I immersed myself more into record collecting.
You obviously have an incredible collection that must have taken a lot of effort and time to build. How did you get the collector bug in earnest?
Not only did my parents allow me to play their LP’s on my little record player, my mother dug out a huge box of her old 45’s that she had stored in the garage. None of them were in sleeves and were not in the best of condition but the music on those 45’s in that dusty box, which was mainly between the years of 1956 to 1965, were a gift sent down from heaven to me. That’s where the interest in record collecting began.
I would guess you have your fair share of anecdotes about records turning up in strange places or getting some rarities as a stroke of luck while record hunting? Any stories to tell?
I think my favorite acquisition was finding the blue label Philles LP of ‘Presenting The Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica’ in a dumpy thrift shop in the mid 1970’s for the princely sum of fifty cents! What makes the story all the more crazy is I didn’t have the fifty cents at the time so I hid the record in the store and went back on a later date to buy it when I had the money.
You live in the greater Los Angeles area – it must be fascinating living so close to the place where your favorite music was recorded?
It is. In fact, some of my best record collection memories took place in the late 1970s in the parking lot of the Capitol Tower in Hollywood, only a few blocks north of Gold Star near Hollywood & Vine. Back in the day there was a monthly record swap meet there held late at night. A flashlight with good batteries was a necessity! Good memories…
Is there anything specific out there you’re still looking for for your collection?
I really get excited finding unreleased acetates from the early to mid 1960’s.
[Cue Castanets: Anthony features quite a few acetates on his channel. Here’s a great example…]
Why did you decide to set up a YouTube channel?
I enjoyed the videos that other YouTube users were uploading of their 45’s and thought that I could do that too.
In 2010, I started playing with the Windows Movie Maker program and with over 700 videos that I’ve uploaded over the past four years. I try to include as much information I can document about the records as well as have a nice mix of brightly saturated color images of the labels. Photos of the vocalists and any other image that may pertain to the records I try to include as well. They are sort of little, musical monuments to the artists, musicians, producers, arrangers, engineers and anyone else who was a part of these vinyl and styrene pieces of musical history.
I know that this question is bordering on torture for a collector like yourself, but if you were to bring only five songs to a desert island ….which ones would it be?
Believe it or not, that is an easy question for me to answer. With the thousands of records that I’ve accumulated over the years, these five are really special to me:
‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ – RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS (Philles 124 – 1964)
‘Better Off Without You’ – BEVERLY NOBLE (Rally 502 – 1965)
‘The Thrill Is Gone’ – CLYDIE KING (Imperial 66109 – 1965)
‘If You’re Gonna Love Me’ – CHI CHI (Kapp 749 – 1966)
‘Love Her’ – WALKER BROTHERS (Smash 1976 – 1965)
The list of iconic 60s producers is long; Phil Spector, Jack Nitzsche, Brian Wilson, Burt Bacharach etc; but is there a particular, lesser-known producer from the time that you think is criminally overlooked? Explain why?
I think Perry Botkin, Jr. may be somewhat overlooked in comparison to Spector, Nitzsche, Wilson, Bacharach, Crewe, etc. While he was for the most part, an arranger, the vast list of sessions that he worked on contributing his talent is astounding.
[Here’s Anthony’s pick of a single that shows off Botkin’s stellar arranging skills.]
One thing is of course the producers featured on your channel, but which are your all-time favorite songwriters from that era?
Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil
Eddie Rambeau, Bob Crewe & Bud Rehak
Russ Titelman & Gerry Goffin
Joey Brooks & Aaaron Schroeder
Have you ever met any of the artists, songwriters or producers whose work is represented on the different playlists?
Over the years I’ve met some artists at various Record Shows here in the Los Angeles area. Thanks to YouTube, I’ve had the pleasure of receiving personal messages on some of the videos that I’ve uploaded at YouTube from musicians, songwriters, engineers, producers, arrangers as well as from the artists. They’ve all been very humble and appreciative of the interest in their musical past.
In line with the main theme of this blog, do you have a particular favorite among Spector’s productions you’d like to comment on? It doesn’t necessarily have to be one of the well-known hits.
If I had to choose, I prefer all of Spector’s productions from the Ronettes hit ‘Walking In The Rain’ and onward until the end of the Philles era with Tina Turner. The backing tracks alone by the Righteous Brothers, Ronettes and Tina Turner are masterpieces.
I have to believe that sitting on a dusty shelf somewhere are some amazing, unreleased Spector produced, ‘Wall of Sound’ tracks on reels of recording tape waiting to be discovered and shared with the world. I hope I see that day in my lifetime.
What’s your absolute favorite obscure song / production by anyone that you’d recommend readers to check out right away? What is it you love about the particular song?
I’ll have to recommend my #2 choice of my top 5 45’s.
Beverly Noble – ‘BETTER OFF WITHOUT YOU’ – at only fourteen years old, Miss Noble sings with an amazing maturity over a gorgeous backing track dripping with echo. A beautiful song that is presented with a stunning arrangement by Don Ralke.
Stereo versions of Wall of Sound tracks can result in heated debate. Some take the side of Spector himself, arguing that the stereo undermines the original mono impact of the production technique, others love the fact that you can get a better understanding of the different elements that make up the Wall.
What’s your stance on this? Any stereo versions that you prefer over the mono mix?
The Spector ‘stereo’ tracks are not true stereo. Unless you enjoy the entire rhythm section on the right channel, strings on the left channel and vocals in the center. Spector didn’t record for stereo, just utilized the three tracks available to him to record on. Sonny & Cher’s early productions were recorded with that method as well and are not my preference.
Regarding Spector’s Philles productions, I am an admirer of the dense, ‘one microphone over everything’ sound of glorious monophonic.
And finally, – not a question but rather a wholehearted thanks for taking your time to give this interview – and above all making your incredible collection available for us all to hear online.
Thank YOU, for adding another dimension of enlightenment and praise to this style of music that I so admire and love.
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As a postscript to the interview, I can’t resist listing my current 5 favorite songs from Anthony’s channel that I can thank him for discovering.
I probably wouldn’t have come across these, and countless others, if it hadn’t been for Anthony. Rather than slowing down the post with too many embedded videos, I’m listing the direct links. Enjoy!
Samantha Jones – ‘I Deserve It’ (1965)
Tense and heartbreaking, this is a top notch wall of sound masterpiece.
The Bishops – ‘Hollywood Scene’ (1965)
Is this the definitive West Coast answer to ‘On Broadway’ by the Drifters? A cavernous production with great vocals by this obscure group.
Jean King – ‘The Nicest Things Happen’ (1965)
Solo offering from one of the Blossoms recorded a Gold Star. Could the end results be anything else than prime Spector pop? I love the verse melody which is very interesting for the time.
James Darren – ‘Where Did We Go Wrong?’ (1966)
Fantastic single! This song has absolutely angelic and ethereal backing vocals. The flip side, ‘Counting the Cracks’, is also a stunner.
Will-O-Bees – ‘It’s Not Easy’ (1967)
Folk-pop meets the Spector sound on this beautiful Barry Mann & Cynthia Weill song.