Castanets… That most delicious of percussion instruments that Spector put to the forefront in many of his classic productions, – is there anything more Spectoresque this side of the iconic ‘Be my Baby’ beat? Probably not.
So when Detroit-based pop group the Blueflowers decided to aim for the full-on Wall of Sound with a track from their 2011 album, ‘In Line with the Brokenhearted’, they wisely chose to cover all bases. Castanets? Check! ‘Be my Baby’ drumbeat? Check!
So who are these Blueflowers? A Detroit-based band dabbling in classic rock, pop and Americana, their lead-singer Kate Hinote has just the right melancholic country-feel to her voice. It definitely suits this aching ‘Maybe’ which I’d like to think is what a Wall of Sound production with both Phil Spector and David Lynch involved would sound like.
Another Classic cut to add the ever-gowing list of superb modern Spector soundalikes.
Collecting Modern Spector soundalikes means listening to endless variations of the Wall of Sound that have a dark undertone of heartbreak and drama – see my recent post on Lykke Li for a good example.
It’s remarkable that the vast majority of these soundalikes go for a tense, even sinister feel in the grooves when you consider the fact that a lot of Spector’s big hits were jubilant and carefree. Think ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’, ‘Not to Young to get Married’ or ‘A Fine Fine Boy.’
I suppose today’s young musicians steer away from this type of fun and playful Spector tradition because many consider such songs too banal or kliche? And that instead infusing your song and its production with melodrama and edginess will guarantee it’s coolness with the indie-crowd. I don’t have my nose in the air about this, mind you. Young musicians going down this path, no doubt inspired by Phil Spector’s public image as a gunblazing ‘Stalin of the Studio’, has brought great results. But when someone comes along today with a song that goes against this tradition it really does feel like a breath of fresh air.
…which leads me to ‘Hey Boy’, a fun little ditty that the Memphis-based indie-pop band Magic Kids issued as a single in 2009. It was included in slightly reworked form on their debut album the following year. What’s remarkable about this extremely catchy song is that unlike most these days they did go for the bonafide ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’ feel, castanets and all! Heck, if the lyrics were revised to reflect a female point-of-view I could easily imagine LaLa Brooks fronting the Crystals on a Spector-version back in the day. It’s exciting, it’s bouncy, it’s snappy – what’s not to like?
I don’t know if this low-budget video is the official one but it’s the best one I could find…