Monday, May 16, 2005

11th Top Ten Album

I don't know how I overlooked it, but I left probably my favorite album of the rock and roll era off my Top Ten albums list. This one's an odd pick for many, but I hold that it's 1960s musicianship and Wall of Sound production at its peak. The album I'm talking about is the legendary Phil Spector Christmas album, A Christmas Gift for You. This isn't a normal rock record in that it's all remakes of traditional songs; there's only one original here, but it's the classic Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)." The performances here, by Darlene Love, Ronnie Spector and the Ronnettes, Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, and the Crystals, are all goosebump-making. Even better, the backing instrumentals (by Hal Blaine, Tommy Tedesco, Carol Kaye, and the other musicians known informally as the Wrecking Crew) are cooking with gas, the height of L.A. studio playing in the 1960s; these cats are good and they know it, and this album catches them playing their collective asses off. The arrangements and production are classic Wall of Sound, dense and full of reverb and echo. Everything on this album is so good, so right, so perfect in what it does, it rises to the top of my favorite albums list no matter what the season. How could I ever forget it?

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