Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Boss Tracks, A Fine, Fine, Boy; Darlene Love

Darlene Love (Wright) was discovered by Phil Spector when he was just starting to built his reputation as the tycoon of teen with his Philles records. At the time, around 1962, Wright sang with the Blossoms, a highly respected vocal group that did back grounds for Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Doris Day and the Rolling Stones. Spector fell in love with Darlene's voice that could be both clean and white as a lily or low and growlin'. Love on the other hand wasn't as impressed by Spector, of their first encounter she recalls that Spector reminded her of 'a little kid playing in the sand box'. Others around Spector remember how she was one of the few who dared talk back to Spector and would be able to make Spector listen. They were seemingly always at odds. Yet it is with Love that Spector would cut some of his most memorable singles, if not his best. Darlene's voice elevated Phil's often thin teen dramas to another level, Love's voice gave the songs an emotional subtext that often saved them from mediocrity.

The first song Love would record for Spector was "He's a Rebel" for a flat rate of $3.000. Needless to say she sang the hell out of it, the record shot straight to number one on the Pop charts, credited to the Crystals. Love however was too ambitious to remain in the shadows, she wanted to be a star in her own right. Something that would inevitably clash with Spector's vision of himself being the true star. To Spector his recording stars were only a small step up from the faceless studio musicians he used. As such Love never got paid any fair royalties, to Spector she was as interchangeable as the drummer or the guitar player, it was his music, he was to reap the benefits and recognition. As a result of that tension between the two, Love would only cut six sides under her own name and wouldn't see the royalties for them until 1997 when the NY supreme court, much to the dismay of Spector, decided she was entitled to them. By the time Love recorded her third single for Spector their relationship had already soured. As soon as the recording was finished, Spector lost interested. Though "A Fine, Fine, Boy" is arguably her finest record, it stalled at #53 in the charts, due to lack of promotion.

After leaving Phillis, Love turned her back on the music business for quite a while. She starred in various theater productions amongst which, how fitting, "Leader Of The Pack", based on the sixties girl groups. Broadway inevitably landed her in Hollywood, starring in the movie "Lethal Weapon" in the role of Danny Glover's wife. In 1998 she (partly) got the recognition she deserved when she was nominated for induction in the R&R Hall of Fame. Unfortunately the induction eluded her. The tycoon of teen was inducted in 1989. For Springsteen "A Fine, Fine, Girl" proved to be quite the effective show piece whenever the Miami Horns were around in '76.

Darlene Love

MP3 File

Bruce Springsteen

MP3 File

"A Fine, Fine Boy" is available on Back to Mono (1958-1969)

For sources and further reading pick up Tearing Down the Wall of Sound: The Rise and Fall of Phil Spector by Mick Brown.


Gina said...

Quite interesting how someone so brilliant and talented didn't understand the value of Love and her gifts... though they did do better than some... imagine how much they could have done.

Thank you for the tracks!!

:D I LOVE Bruce's!!
That was the first time for me!!

Gina said...

Or maybe he did understand her value... but was unwilling to give her what she was worth.

So it was more greed/selfishness and indifference that caused their demise. Such a shame...

She does have an incredible voice.

Lovin' The Horns!! Ty again!