Thursday, March 05, 2009

Rock of Ages: The Ronettes - "Be My Baby" (1963)

When the drum beat of "Be My Baby" kicks in, you know that you are in for an amazing classic rock and roll standard. The Morse Code like snap of the kick drum into the snap of the snare is an unforgettable staple and when The Ronettes start to sing over the lush swirl of guitars, piano, strings and the famous drums that continue to sound amazing throughout the song. Phil Spector wrote the song and his signature "Wall fo Sound" production is perfectly realized here. There is no denying the power of this song. It may be one of the best sounding singles from the 60's as it was emulated for years. Spector went on to produce and work with some of the best musicians including The Crystals, The Beatles, The Ramones & Leonard Cohen to name a few. Still, with all this power under his belt, it was with The Ronettes that he nailed it out of the park.

"Be My Baby" isn't only thanks to Phil Spector, but his then wife Ronnie Spector is what makes this track. Her unforgettable vocal delivery shows confidence. An era where women were still not as respected as would come later, Ronnie Spector was that confident female voice who knew what she wanted. As much as the music sounds lush and full and swirls in the eardrums, it's the voice of Ronnie and the Ronettes that make this track unforgettable. As much as Motown had some of the great girl groups, I feel that The Ronettes still gave us one of the most confident female vocal performances of the 60's.

The song is a definite trail blazer. The list of tracks that have emulated the opening drum beat goes on for pages. Ronnie Spector was employed to sing with Eddie Money on his hit "Take Me Home Tonight" to reprise the chorus and the track has been used in countless movies, most notably in the opening credits of Martin Scorsese's gritty neo-noir Mean Streets. The Wall fo Sound went on to influence tons of acts and be incorporated in creating some of the most atmospheric records. Without the technique, modern day musical recordings would be totally different.

Up Next: Bob Dylan's kiss off song

1 comment:

Nathan said...

1) I dig this tune / this idea. Keep it up.

2) I respect the hell out of you, but then you go any say things like "the NBA is a big bag of farts" and it makes me think that you don't know anything about anything.