H, 1951: Ronnie Spector’s mother was African-American and Cherokee, and her father was Irish-American. She and two of her cousins grew up in New York City, and became known as The Ronettes, and had their best material produced by Phil Spector and performed by a group of musicians informally known as The Wrecking Crew.
Part of the appeal of The Ronettes, I think, is that they represented some sort of elusive, eternal mystery. Were they girls, or women? Did they want to cuddle, or do something more? Were they dates you could bring home and introduce to Mom and Dad, or were they taboo? Were they innocent, or were they temptresses? Was their elaborately produced music, often including strings, part of the Western musical tradition? But then what about the relentless, driving rhythms and those drums that often seemed on the verge of going out of control? And speaking of control, what about all that hair, so elaborately coiffed, piled high on their heads, yet also caressing their shoulders?
Some classic singles certainly came out of this mysterious melting pot, and the group definitely deserves inclusion on this list, and the cover art for this album is eye candy of the highest order — but there’s some undeniable filler here as well. At one point there was a Phil Spector boxed set titled ‘Back to Mono’, and that was the one to add to your collection. “Be My Baby” is the timeless track here, although “Walking In the Rain,” “Do I Love You,” “You, Baby” and “Baby, I Love You” are all great as well.