One of the more puzzling Spector productions is the as yet unreleased ‘Down a TJs’ sung by none other than Spector himself.
Recorded in the mid-60s as the theme song for a proposed music TV show, a pilot episode exists starring the Dave Clark 5 as the featured band and Spector as a co-host.
Even though the youtube video dates the show at 1966, there’s been an auction online for a contract between Spector and ABC that lists the show’s recording datee as July 13 1965. The contract was signed by Spector in 1966, so whether he recorded the theme song in ’65 or ’66 is anyone’s guess.
How all this came to be, I don’t know,… but the project along with Spector’s theme song for the ‘I Love Lucy’ show as well as his involvement with ‘the Big TNT Show’ underlines how he was obviously looking to branch out during the mid 60s.
Spector’s limited voice and the typical over-the-top Wall of Sound backing is an odd coupling. It’s a shame he didn’t get, say, Darlene Love to belt this one out as the song is pretty good and the production both intense and imaginative.
I recently listened to this rare track for the first time in ages and realized that there was something vaguely familiar about a harpsichord figure that pops up throughout the song. It starts off the actual song so you can hear it at 00:00 to 00:15 here:
And then it hit me – that part reminds me of the eerie ‘Bicycle Rider’ motif Brian Wilson concocted for the 66-67 aborted Smile project. The tempo is slower but I definately hear some distinct similarities. Compare the first 15 seconds of the ‘Down at TJ’s’ video with this slower Beach Boys recording:
Probably pure co-incidence but hey, you never know?
What if Brian heard this recent recording or saw the pilot episode and felt inspired? The Beach Boys whiz kid had certainly done it before, – ‘Be my Baby’ / ‘Don’t Worry Baby’, anyone? Since both genius producers utilized the Wrecking Crew both recordings probably even feature some of the same musicians. Just saying,… stranger things have happened.
No matter what, ‘Down at TJ’s’ is easily overlooked so it’s nice to dust this rarity off and feature it in its own blog post. I wonder why this one was left off the Back to Mono box, along with the Spector-sung ‘Lucy in London’ theme, when other rarities from this time was included? Maybe Spector himself knew he was no Bill Medley or Bobby Sheen and just decided to lay low vocal-wise?