Girl Groups Week No 3: the Ronettes - Be My Baby
Aaaah we have finally arrived.
1963, the first release by the Ronettes, mind-blowing, the wall of sound is born.
Apparently when Phil Spector auditioned them, they sang one song, and he interrupted them shouting that's it! That's the voice I've been looking for!
He meant, of course, the voice of Veronica Bennett. Whether it was the fact that he'd fallen head over heels in love with her, (or indeed her voice) from then on the Ronettes were his top act. In fact he wanted to sign her, Veronica, not them, but was told the deal was all of them or none of them. The fact that they recorded relatively little compared to the Crystals reflects the fact that only the very best material was good enough for the Ronettes. And I think that it was because he was so passionately in love with her voice that he had to frame it with the over the top, lush and massive musical backing thereby inventing his famous Wall of Sound.
And listen to it. It never fails to move, it makes you feel soooo good every time, every every time, it's so perfect, from the opening drums to the castanets, to the quavering opening line and on and on to (as she says) eternity.
"The night we met I knew I (pause does she dare say it?) needed you so
and if I had the chance I'd (pause) never let you go
So won't you say you love me
I'll make you so proud of me
We'll make them turn their heads every place we go
So won't you be my be my baby (she is pleading but is so persuasive how can he ever say no?) backing vocals everything kicks in, it's just too much
for every kiss you give me I'll give you three
oh since the day I saw you
I have been waiting for you
you know I will adore you
The strings are just there to give us an emotional rest - and off we go again, boom, ba boom crash, boom ba boom crash, "come on and be, be my little baby, say you'll be my darling, be my baby now....." There are those who say that this is what it was all about, why we crawled out of the primordial soup, that this is the pinnacle achievement of human existence.
Now stop. Play it again, ....but this time only listen to the drums, all the way through. Hal Blaine was the drummer on all of Phil Spector's Phillies tracks, and a whole lot more , and he's the one that drives the song along, is the heartbeat of the song's passion, his timing, attack and authority the final ingredient - the Girl Group genre pathos and strength, the Phil Spector production, the singing of Veronica (soon to become Ronnie Spector), and the best drummer there ever was.Which is why that double 4 beat just before they launch into the final
crescendo, the drum rolls exploding like fireworks as everyone (including you and me) launches into that final chorus, is (some say) the greatest moment in rock and pop history.