The Voices Of Black Women Were Essential To Phil Spector’s Wall Of Sound
Darlene Love began her partnership with Spector in 1962, when she came to the attention of Lester Sill, Spector’s business partner and co-founder of their label Philles Records. In a hurry to record the song “He’s a Rebel,” but unable to cut the song with the vocalists they had under contract, the New York-based group The Crystals, Sill and Spector turned to Love, who lived in Los Angeles. Spector was racing to release his version of the Gene Pitney-penned tune before a version recorded by Vikki Carr could come out and pre-empt his sales. Spector paid Love a flat fee and triple scale to record the song and to allow him to release it under the name The Crystals. The arrangement, made without consulting with The Crystals, was indicative of the power producers had over artists. Describing her experience recording with Spector in her memoir, Love recalled that Spector encouraged what Love calls “the low, growling side of my voice, the righteous indignation and in-your-face testimony that I usually saved for church.” Accentuating vocal Blackness in the early 1960s was a daring move in the segregated U.S., but it paid off.
I saw Darlene Love perform, oddly enough, at EPCOT Center. I wonder if they offer musicians a big vacation package for that, of it was just a price-is-right situation?
Between songs, she alluded to having worked with Phil Spector. She basically called him out for the shady behavior described in the NPR story. I’m guessing it was not for the first time. She concluded the retelling of her history by saying “I don’t care if he hears about me saying this! He’s in jail, can’t do anything about it!” 😆
Wall of Sound is one of my favorite maximalist musical styles and all, but I hope Darlene Love is updating her sick burns on (convicted murderer) Phil Spector to end with “don’t matter because he’s dead now!”