I realized today it’s been quite a while since I published a post about the ever growing number of modern Spector soundalikes.
As you may know from my previous posts on the subject I find these examples of modern artists tipping their hats to the Wall of Sound very interesting. If anything, they show the far-reaching influence of the Spector approach on all sorts of genres and also reveal how different artists will pick up different ideas from the Wall of Sound and milk them for all they’re worth.
Spector of course sort of did the same when he started out – if we were somehow transported back in time to the early 60s, before his Philles heyday, and heard some of his then earliest productions, it would have been fair to label them ‘modern Leiber & Stoller soundalikes’ for that time. Because that’s what they were before Spector slowly carved out his own characteristic style through trial and error.
For this latest entry about modern Spector soundalikes we’re off to Canada, home of the music collective known as Gigi. Gigi released the album ‘Maintenant’ in 2010, basically borne out of a fantasy by two musicians, Nick Krgovich and Colin Stewart, who wanted to write and produce a collection of retro-songs the old-fashioned way; stuff that sounded as if it was recorded in the 60s with that era’s production flourishes and sensibility recorded using vintage equipment. Based in Vancouver, allegedly as many as 40 musicians from the local music community took part in the project recording backing tracks live in the studio like Spector and the Wrecking Crew did in the 60s.
My mouth was watering when I first read about this project – it sounded so promising! Was this the Spector / Wall of Sound-themed concept album of our dreams? I’ll have to say though that I was disappointed when I heard the album. There are a few good tracks for sure but in general I found ‘Maintenant’ to be lukewarm despite the good intentions. And somehow, to these ears, the majority of the tracks seem a bit unimaginative. However, as we all know, almost every album has at least one ace track among all the filler and Gigi’s ‘Maintenant’ is no exception. For me, ‘Won’t Someone Tell Me?’ is the stand-out track by miles.
It’s not overtly Spectoresque production-wise; Spector and Jack Nitszche would probably have been puzzled by the lack of echo, thunderous percussion and the pretty sparse string arrangement. Production-wise, ‘Won’t Someone Tell Me?’ is much more akin to, say, a snappy Lesley Gore track than Spector’s usual monophonic mayhem.
Nevertheless, the song itself is a prime example of perfect girl group pop for the 21st century harking back to that golden era of girls that gave us iconic sides by the Ronettes or the Crystals. I could easily imagine both groups tackle this song along with Spector, in my dreams resulting in a tremendous monster track that would blow Gigi’s version out of the water. Having said that, the Gigi version is very, very good indeed. I’m especially fond of the innocent ‘little girl lost’ lead vocal by Mirah, whoever she is. She foolishly only sings this one song on the album which really is a shame since her delivery here is top notch.
Enjoy then a very nice slice of girl group pop with a pinch of poor man’s Wall of Sound thrown in for good measure!
Gigi – Won’t Someone Tell Me?