The other day I was listening to the radio in the kitchen when a song came on that I hadn’t heard before. After a short while I stopped whatever I was doing and began to listen more closely as there was something about the structure and feel of the song that just screamed ‘get ready for bombast!’
As the song went on and on I waited for a Wall of Sound to wash over me. But it never came. Instead, the simple, piano-based song just sort of petered out. I was perplexed. What? All this build-up I sensed. For nothing? That had to be the ultimate ‘coitus interruptus’ of Spector sound.
The song was ‘You Ruin Me’ by Aussie girl pop duo the Veronicas. Even their name is tailor-made for the full-on blast of Spector sound that they foolishly didn’t go for.
If you’ve followed my blog, you know it’s a sort of hobby of mine to dig up modern Spector soundalikes. Maybe that makes it all the more annoying for me when a song so seemingly perfect for a Spector tribute is left hang to dry in an unimaginative and tame sonic setting.
Make no mistake. I like the song and ‘You Ruin Me’ is pretty good as is in this stripped production. But oh man, had the Veronicas dared to go all the way and pile on instrument after instrument this could have become a monster record, all swirling strings, tinkling glockenspiels and swaths of strummed guitars.
Maybe I should devise a new moniker for these ‘could have been’ epics? ‘Potential modern Spector soundalikes’, perhaps? And this one must surely take the prize. If I knew how to play a dozen instruments I would waste no time and run to the nearest studio to overdub from here to eternity.
This is of course not a new phenomenon. You can find songs in any decade that are just begging to be dressed up by someone wanting to outdo the Tycoon of Teen. In one of my past blog posts, reader Ian Chapman posted an April Stevens song from the 70s , (Won’t You) Marry Me Again’, that also should have been elaborately produced.
Oh well, we can dream can’t we? Always funny to compare notes so if there are any songs out there that has always left you hearing a full-blown but imagined Wall of Sound surrounding a tame production, I’d love to hear about them. I’ll finish off with two similar, recent examples.
The first one, ‘Dry your Eyes’ by Scottish group Texas on their most recent album, is a dead ringer for the kind of Spectoresque material Jackie De Shannon recorded in the 60s. But there are just too few Wall of Sound elements present for me to consider it as a modern Spector soundalike.
The second one is Jenny & Johnny’s ‘Swichblade’. Cool song with good lyrics and nice singing. And the strummed guitar chords have the potential for a track with a great sense of propulsion, like, say, ‘Keep On Dancing’ by the Ronettes. But it doesn’t go anywhere from there and could have been so much more in the hands of the right producer.
I know that ‘less is more’ and all that, and sometimes it really is. But other times, as I’ll venture is the case with the selections here there’s no reason at all to not go overboard and use everything but the kitchen sink. To my ears, that’s basically what these three lovely songs are cajoling you to do with their classic song structure. You can almost hear the Wall of Sound on there on some subliminal level.