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Spectropop - Digest Number 409



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There are 9 messages in this issue of Spectropop.

Topics in this Digest Number 409:

      1. Re: Unchained Melody....Phil v Bill
           From: Ted T. 
      2. Re: Unchained Melody....Phil v Bill
           From: "John Lester" 
      3. Re: Phil Produced Unchained
           From: Andrew Hickey 
      4. Unchained Spector
           From: John Rausch 
      5. USA,websites, righteous Spector
           From: "Paul Payton" 
      6. Spector vs Medley
           From: "Don Charles" 
      7. Beach Boys 'Theremin'
           From: "Kingsley Abbott" 
      8. Re: theremin
           From: Andrew Hickey 
      9. Re: theremin
           From: Ron 


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Message: 1
   Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 23:06:06 -0800
   From: Ted T. 
Subject: Re: Unchained Melody....Phil v Bill

Alan Ackerman's very carefully reasoned note on Unchained
Melody is quite compelling. I realize that UM has already
been discussed (and voted on) on Spectropop, but this is
an important subject for Spector devotees and is worth
spending a little overtime on.

Haven't viewed it lately, but I have somewhere a video
where both Bobby and Bill repeat clearly that Bill
produced UM.

That said, I agree with Alan and find it extremely
difficult to believe that Bill Medley produced it. (By
'produced" here, I mean 'was the driving creative force
behind the recording". ) There are just too many clunkers
in the Medley repertoire, and as Alan and Carol point out,
there is nothing in Medley's track record to indicate his
being capable of putting something of the caliber of UM
on wax. This is an amazing side, and nothing else I have
heard produced by Medley is anywhere near amazing. (My
favorite post Philles side by the Brothers is Melancholy
Music Man, which has terrific dynamics. I don't recall
who got the production credit for that one, but I don't
think it was Medley.)

So, to sum up

I can believe that Spector produced Unchained Melody. I
can believe that Spector produced it with input from
Medley. I can believe that Jack Nitzsche produced it with
input from Medley, with Spector eventually signing off on
it.

But a pure Bill Medley production seems unlikely in the
extreme.

But the troubling question remains, if Medley did not
produce the side, why would the Brothers both claim that
he did? Hard to answer, although in all the creative arts,
there are tons of examples of people trying to cull the
credit for this or that work. Anyone out there who is a
professional writer can probably cite examples of third
parties (editors, copy-editors, researchers, etc.)
claiming major credit where major credit was simply not
due.

In the movies, a famous example, among many others, is
that of credit sequence designer Saul Bass claiming
loudly, publicly and repeatedly that he directed the
shower scene in Psycho. Some reference books to this day
say that Bass did the sequence. (He didn't. As Janet
Leigh and others subsequently pointed out.)

We won't even start talking about credit disputes in the
music business...

But here's something that has always struck me as curious.
Alan mentions the Ronettes "When I Saw You" in his post.
A funny thing about UM is that its majestic string finale
sounds like a supercharged reworking of the finale to
"When I Saw You".

Ted T.


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Message: 2
   Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 08:29:01 -0000
   From: "John Lester" 
Subject: Re: Unchained Melody....Phil v Bill

Alan Ackerman wrote about the producer of "Unchained
Melody" and concluded that Phil Spector produced the hit
version of Unchained Melody.

John Lester writes: I came to the same conclusion purely
>from LISTENING and comparing the work of Bill Medley and
Phil Spector.  The credits on 45's, EP's and LP's are
often incorrect for whatever reason. eg Ivy Jo Hunter
wrote "Dancing In The Street" by Martha & The Vandellas,
whatever it says on the label.

"You're My Soul and Inspiration" may have been (finally)
produced by Bill Medley but in my opinion, it was really
Phil Spector that made it the classic that we all loved.


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Message: 3
   Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 11:39:45 -0800 (PST)
   From: Andrew Hickey 
Subject: Re: Phil Produced Unchained

> In the Righteous Brothers thread that begins on 3-05-02
> on Carol's message board, she states emphatically that
> Phil Spector produced the version of UM that is always
> played on the radio and that Bill Medley had done a
> remake, years later, of UM that is not played on the
> radio.

Yeah - Carol has been *very* consistent on this point.
I asked her the same question on her board about 5
years ago and she said the same then, and again on
this list a year or so ago. Personally I'm inclined to
agree with her - it sounds like a Spector production
to my ears...


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Message: 4
   Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 19:02:28 -0500
   From: John Rausch 
Subject: Unchained Spector

Alan Ackerman wrote:

> the Righteous Brothers record of Philles 129 has Hung
> On You on the a- side with the usual
> Spector/Nitzsche/Levine credits.  The b-side side has
> Unchained Melody with no credits except "From the Best
> Sellign Philles LP 4008 JUST ONCE IN MY LIFE. ........

This may have been mentioned previously but there are
versions of Philles 129 that do have Phil Spector credited
as producer for Unchained Melody. I have both versions
with and without Spector credits.

John Rausch


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Message: 5
   Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 11:50:06 -0500
   From: "Paul Payton" 
Subject: USA,websites, righteous Spector

 Stewart wrote:

> I'm pretty sure there's some theremin on the United
> States of America album -- I just had that out yesterday
> and I was struck by how really good it is.

Have to add an "Amen" to that; one of the great
underrated bands. (See Richie Unterberger's "Lost Legends"
book for more.)

Michael Coxe: I tried to check out 
http://www.sanctuaryrecordsgroup.co.uk

for Castle & Sequel and couldn't get in. Is there a ban
on it for US folks?

David Salter: http://www.gibsonarts.com
Very interesting, but nothing could I find about Jill
Gibson's musical life.

Alan Ackerman wrote:

> [Bill] Medley's subsequent Verve production work
> (modeled after Spector for sure) do not have the aural
> colorings and taste that Spector had.

To my mind, equally as important is that the compositions
were pretty bland as well. Compare "Soul and Inspiration"
with the harmonic complexity of, for example, "Hung On
You" or even "Lovin' Feeling."

But Alan also writes:
> Has Sonny Charles ever matched the performance he gave on
> Black Pearl? Ditto for Carol Connors, Ray Peterson,
> Curtis Lee, Priscilla Paris, Barbara Alston, La La Brooks,
> Darlene Love, Ronnie.

Ray Peterson had more years of country hits post-Phil -
and also had great success pre-Phil. And we know the
personal and other politics around Ronnie's career being
tied up. Not to take anything away from my favorite
producer, however....

Country Paul


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Message: 6
   Date: Tue, 12 Mar 2002 00:10:04 +0000
   From: "Don Charles" 
Subject: Spector vs Medley

Alan Ackerman wrote:

> In the Righteous Brothers thread that begins on 3-05-02
> on Carol's message board, she states emphatically that
> Phil Spector produced the version of UM that is always
> played on the radio...Carol goes on to say: "...the
> proof is in the pudding too, what hits has Bill had?"

What chart hits is Bill Medley credited with producing? 
Well, let's see . . . "Little Latin Lupe Lu" . . . "Soul
And Inspiration" . . . "Go Ahead And Cry" . . . "Brown
Eyed Woman" . . . I don't have a chart reference handy,
but I know there are others.  The number of hits doesn't
match Spector's record, of course, but these singles have
a hell of a lot of soul.  Certainly nothing to scoff at!

> It is interesting to note (and this cinches the debate
> for me) that the flip side of # 133 is When I Saw You (a
> Spector production for sure, from 1964 Ronettes album)
> that doesn't even have a producers credit on it! However,
> it does say "From the Best- Selling PHILLES LP 4006,
> Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes." Now, the Righteous
> Brothers record of Philles 129 has Hung On Uou on the a-
> side with the usual Spector/Nitzsche/Levine credits. The
> b-side side has Unchained Melody with no credits except
> "From the Best Sellign Philles LP 4008 JUST ONCE IN MY
> LIFE. Very similar wording to the the Ronettes 45-133.

This is nothing more than speculation. With all due
respect to Carole Kaye, I still believe that Bill Medley
handled the basic production on the original version of
"Unchained," as well as the remake released many years
later on the heels of the hit movie "Ghost."

> Medley's subsequent Verve production work (modeled
> after Spector for sure) do not have the aural
> colorings and taste that Spector had. Even Medley's
> and Hatfield's vocals are less than the best on the
> Verve tracks.

This is a subjective judgment, and I definitely don't
agree with it.  I adore the work Bill Medley did on SOUL
AND INSPIRATION and GO AHEAD AND CRY as well as on his
first solo album, 100%.  To my ears, tracks like "Stand
By" and "I Got The Beat" stand up to the best of what
Spector produced on the Brothers.

> Spector, like all great producers, knew how to coax
> the best vocals out of his lead singers. Has Sonny
> Charles ever matched the performance he gave on Black
> Pearl? Ditto for Carol Connors, Ray Peterson, Curtis
> Lee, Priscilla Paris, Barbara Alston, La La Brooks,
> Darlene Love, Ronnie. None of these artists had any
> kind of hit record career once leaving Spector. Only
> Tina Turner went on to a big career after Phil and
> that probably had more to do with leaving Ike than
> anything. Still, Tina's vocals on the Spector tracks
> are tremendous--very soulful, throaty, earthy--a
> female Ben E. King.

Again, I disagree.  Everybody knows that hits don't
necessarily equal quality, or vice-versa.  La La Brooks
and The Crystals made some truly excellent sides for UA,
Darlene Love has cut some wonderful stuff away from Phil
(for instance,"Dance With The Guitar Man"), Priscilla
Paris sounds great on the Nick Venet-produced "Dream Baby,"
and nothing Ray Peterson has done, not even "Corinna,
Corinna," tops his classic performance of Jeff Barry's
"Tell Laura I Love Her!" I don't intend to negate
Spector's influence or downplay his achievements, but it
isn't valid to glorify him at the expense of the people he
worked with.  Most of THEM had talent, too!

> Prior to signing with Philles records, Bill Medley
> had never bothered with recording older, standard
> songs like Unchained Melody. Phil, however, had done
> so many times, going back to the Teddy Bears era
> (their LP is full of standards). Bob B. Soxx's
> Zip-a-dee-doo-dah is another example.

So Bill Medley was only capable of recording the kind of
songs he'd produced before working with Spector?  He
didn't have the capacity to learn and grow? Give me a
break.  There's definitely a progression evident between
his work on the Righteous Brother's debut album to his
masterpiece on Moonglow, SOME BLUE-EYED SOUL.  He was
definitely getting into big orchestrations.

> My conclusion is that Phil Spector produced the hit
> version of Unchained Melody.

Sorry, I'm not convinced.

Don Charles


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Message: 7
   Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 10:19:21 -0000
   From: "Kingsley Abbott" 
Subject: Beach Boys 'Theremin'

Scott is certainly right about the instrument used Beach
Boys records.  It was not a true theremin (an instrument
played entirely without touching any part of it save to
switch it on).  The session player Paul Tanner, who used
to play trombone for the Glenn Millar Orch, had seen and
been intrigued by a real theremin, but had thought it too
difficult to play properly on sessions as the pitch was
notoriously difficult to maintain.  He set about
duplicating the sound of variable oscillations with a
variable resistance device that was played by moving a
wand over a rudimentary 'keyboard' - ie note positions
marked along a wire.  The instrument played by Wondermint
Probyn Gregory on the current brian Wilson tours, which
works on similar principles is affectionally dubbed the
'Tannerin' in tribute to Paul Tanner.  The device that
Mike Love played on some Good Vibrations promo and TV
films was not the same thing, but yet another newly
developed instrument.  

There is a good company here in the UK making theremins
called Longwave Instruments.  Check them out on
http://www.longwaveinstruments.com

theremin at Spectropop
 
Their range starts with a portable model at around 100
pounds, that gives most satisfying whoops and wibbles! 
And no, I'm not on commission...

BTW, on the "I Found A Girl" strand, Sloan's demo was on
the old Trousdale Music Sampler LP called I believe
"What's Going On Here".  I think it did re-emerge on CD
somewhere, but I forget where for now.  Maybe someone has
it??


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Message: 8
   Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 11:16:12 -0800 (PST)
   From: Andrew Hickey 
Subject: Re: theremin

> My understanding is that the Beach Boys didn't actually
> use a theremin -- supposedly they used a device called
> the "electro-theremin", which was a modern-day (for the
> '60s) contraption designed to replicate the 'theremin
> sound' using a keyboard instead of having to wave your
> hands in the air.

Can anyone out there confirm this?

I *think* that's the case - I think the instrument in
question was also called a Tannerin or Tannenin and
invented by Paul Tanner, the session player on the
track (and on I Just Wasn't Made For These Times), but
I've read conflicting accounts of this. From what I've
read it sounds like a simillar instrument to the early
electric instrument the ondes martinu (sp?)
For live performances of course, Mike Love used to use
a Moog ribbon synth to replicate the part...


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Message: 9
   Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2002 21:00:28 -0000
   From: Ron 
Subject: Re: theremin

Scott Swanson wrote:
> 
> My understanding is that the Beach Boys didn't actually
> use a theremin -- supposedly they used a device called
> the "electro-theremin", which was a modern-day (for the
> '60s) contraption designed to replicate the 'theremin
> sound' using a keyboard instead of having to wave your
> hands in the air.

You are correct about Brian Wilson not using an actual
theremin.  Kingsley Abbott, in his GREAT book about the
Pet Sounds album describes Brian's meeting with the man
(who's name excapes me) who built the one used on "Good
Vibrations".

Ron


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