# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Crystals - Da Doo Ron Ron: The Very Best of the Crystals

  by Lisa Torem

published: 9 / 11 / 2011

Crystals - Da Doo Ron Ron: The Very Best of the Crystals
Label: Sony Music
Format: CD


Extensive retrospective from superb Phil Spector-produced girl group, the Crystals

Recently reissued by Sony is 'Da Doo Ron Ron: The Very Best of the Crystals'. The original members of the Brooklyn-based quintet, which formed in the early 1960s, were Barbara Alston, Mary Thomas, Dolores “Dee Dee” Kenniebrew, Myrna Girard and Patricia “Patsy” Wright. In 1961, Phil Spector signed this line-up to his Phillies label. At a high point in the group’s hit-making career, Darlene Love, of the Blossoms, had also caught Spector’s attention and, when the Crystals were geographically unavailable to record, he used her booming voice on ‘He’s a Rebel’, ‘He’s Sure The Boy I Love’ (backing vocals were provided by he Blossoms and Cher), and, initially, for the recording of ‘Da Doo Ron Ron.’ Later, he erased Love’s voice on the latter recording, instigating a contractual dispute with Love, and then asked Crystal, Dolores “La La” Brooks to take over lead vocals. That said, it would be impossible to suspect such backstory ruckus after hearing these engaging tunes. Wisely, the CD begins with 1961’s ‘There’s No Other (Like My Baby)’, a divinely structured co-write by Spector and Leroy Bates, featuring Alston on lead vocals. Alston’s convincing statement rings loud and clear in this almost hymn-like overture. Next, ‘Oh Yeah, Maybe Baby’ is what was actually the original B-side; the tempo though, speeds up, and we’re immediately introduced to The Crystal versatility factor - “Got the heebie-jeebies/Got the shakes and I’ve got the funny feeling that’s what it takes…” How can you lose with outstanding lyrics like that? It’s also where we get our first taste of some dramatic castanets work. The expertly drawn, story-song, ‘Uptown’ penned by Brill Building’s Mann and Weil pits true love against economic inequality. With its ‘Spanish Harlem’ like feel – it features gripping, yet not flamboyant stretches of Flamenco guitar, a second helping of the crisp, cool clack of castanet’s and Barbara Alston’s impassioned vocals. As the story of this budding romance builds, a sequence of choruses provides a lyrical payoff: Downtown, “he’s a little man”, but then he goes uptown where “the world is sweet?t’s at his feet” and “he knows that I’ll be standing by.” We can’t wait to see this man, from the wrong side of town, break through class barriers to see his heartthrob, so we’re riveted until we hear “In Uptown, he can hold his head up high.” This ahead-of-its-time ballad holds sophistication rare for the early 1960s where it reached number thirteen on the charts. The one oddity is the ill themed ‘He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)’ which, surprisingly, was written by the usually sensitive team: Carole King/Gerry Goffin. “He hit me and I knew I loved him…” The lyrics justify the boyfriend’s jealousy and his physical response. Because of that, the song received little airplay, but, besides the choice of words, the melody is quite moving and the arrangement is thrillingly symphonic. Still, Alston and the girls do a bang up job blending their angelic voices, despite the jarring subject matter, and her rendition is so full of hope, that it’s almost heartbreaking. As expected, Gene Pitney’s ‘He’s a Rebel’ is one of the collection’s smashes. Originally, the Shirelles turned it down because of its taboo theme. It also led to a series of other songs, which glorified the “bad boy” image and the women who stood by and understood them; Shadow Morton’s produced, ‘Leader of The Pack’, for instance. The collection continues with the lovely, word salad that comprises ‘I Love You Eddie’ – but so does Betty! The lyrics are delightfully innocent and the girls did a great job making sure the harder then expected rhythms were executed precisely. ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’ is another contender for a lively song with marvelously, singable lyrics and ‘Then He Kissed Me’, recorded by “La La” and co-written by Spector, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich is another smash with its easy going vibe, and simple exclamation of puppy love. ‘Heartbreaker’ is the most fascinating because of the rapid syncopation of the chorus: “He’s a (BAM) heartbreaker, hip shaker, trouble maker, yeah, yeah, yeah!” Even after all of these harrowing descriptors, the girls sing: “They call him b-a-d, but I don’t care.” The undulating bass, glitzy piano glissandos, and a fantastic sax solo combine to make this track unforgettable. Recorded in 1963, this track also illustrates the group’s ability to undertake more polished, jazz-influenced arrangements than they had at the start. The twelve, bar blues, ‘All Grown Up’ has a rockabilly guitar intro to die for. Add this proud, coming-of-age statement: “No more ponytail/I wear my hair up high” and you get twelve-bar bliss. Another lyrical gem is embedded in: ‘He’s Sure The Boy I Love.’ “He’ll never be a big businessman/He always buys on an instalment plan.” Though the smitten lover claims, “he doesn’t hang diamonds ‘round my neck” she’s too far in the clouds to care and she puts forth a glorious sound. Another beauty is ‘What a Nice Way to Turn 17.’ After a congratulatory party, the girl is all-alone with her boy. Accompanied by thundering, but sparsely used piano and more tasteful, rockabilly twang, she swoons: “It feels like heaven in your arms.” This song is a definite country crossover. But beware, only true romantics need apply. There are a few tunes that seem slightly buried by Spector’s “Wall of Sound” such as ‘Little Boy’, but because there are so many wonderful hits here, you hardly notice. The Crystals disbanded in 1967, but reunited in 1971 and are still performing. 'Da Doo Ron Ron: The Very Best of the Crystals'is a must-have for the lover of the fabulous girl-group era and for those who get equally excited by stellar songwriting.

Track Listing:-
1 There's No Other Like My Baby
2 Oh Yeah, Maybe Baby
3 Uptown
4 What A Nice Way To Turn 17
5 He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)
6 No One Ever Tells You
7 He's a Rebel
8 I Love You Eddie
9 Another Country - Another World
10 Please Hurt Me
11 He's Sure the Boy I Love
12 Da Doo Ron Ron
13 Heartbreaker
14 Then He Kissed Me
15 I Wonder
16 Little Boy
17 All Grown Up
18 Woman In Love (With You)

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