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Music Review: The Crystals – Da Doo Ron Ron: The Very Best Of The Crystals

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The Sony Music Company has just reissued a number of releases from the Phil Spector catalogue. Albums by Darlene Love, The Ronettes, the famous Phil Spector Christmas album, a best of compilation, and the subject of this review, The Crystals, have all been assembled and remastered from the original tapes.

The Crystals were one of the legendary girl groups in music history despite their short career, 1961-1964, and the different line-ups that recorded under the group name.

The original Crystals were signed to Phil Spector’s Phillies label during 1961 and became a part of his famous Wall Of Sound. Barbara Alston, Mary Thomas, Delores Kenniebrew, Patsy Wright, and Mema Girard formed the group in Brooklyn where they came to the attention of Spector. They quickly produced two top 20 hits, “There’s No Other (Like My Baby)” and “Uptown.”

Meanwhile in California, The Blossoms with Darlene Love also came to the attention of Phil Spector. When it became inconvenient to bring The Crystals to California for a recording session, he used The Blossoms to fill in. The result was the number one hit “He’s A Rebel” and “He’s Sure The Boy I’m Gonna Marry” with the lead vocal by Darlene Love. He continued to use The Blossoms as The Crystals as they recorded “Da Doo Ron Ron” with Love’s lead vocal. A contract dispute then arose between Love and Spector.

Meanwhile back in New York, La La Brooks had replaced Girard as a member of the original Crystals. Spector had her re-record the lead vocal for “Da Do Ron Ron” and it became a number three hit single. Everything worked out fine for Darlene Love as she kept performing with The Blossoms and as a solo artist, plus in a couple of weeks will be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

Meanwhile still in New York, the original Crystals, with another lead vocal by Brook, recorded the classic “Then He Kissed Me.”

Da Doo Ron Ron: The Very Best Of The Crystals gathers all of the previously mentioned tracks plus such gems as “All Grown Up,” “Little Boy,” ”I Wonder,” and “Please Hurt Me.” There is even a previously unreleased track, “Woman In Love (With You).” They even had the good sense to leave off what is probably the worst track in Spector history, “Let’s Do The Screw.”

Phil Spector produced some of the best music of the early 1960s. His recording techniques were innovative and the sound he produced has withstood the passage of time well. The Crystals were one of his better projects as they produced some of the best music of the pre-Beatles era. While they may have been primarily a singles oriented group, when you assemble their best material onto one disc, the results are excellent. Da Doo Ron Ron: The Very Best Of The Crystals is an essential early rock ‘n’ roll listening experience.

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About David Bowling

  • Jeffrey

    Who actually says that Phil Spector ever recorded “Da Doo Ron Ron” with Love’s lead vocal? This is the tendentious claim made by Darlene Love against the fact that what we hear on the record is the very distinctive lead vocal of La La Brooks. It seems almost a form of intellectual plagiarism on the part of Darlene Love to keep saying that she was the intended vocalist for this song. Love wasn’t on the release, she didn’t have a hit record with the number, and she can’t just overlook the spirit and direction given to the song by La La Brooks which all helped to make “Da Doo Ron Ron” such an important hit record. This can’t be pleasant for La La Brooks as her fellow artist. Brooks who is still performing, was only 15 when she cut these dynamic vocals for Phil Spector. She would have looked up to Darlene Wright as she was in those days as her senior. If the tables were turned can you imagine how today’s rather outspoken Darlene Love might react in the same situation? It seems deeply unattractive (and unnecessary) for Love to want to hog the whole Phil Spector/Crystals brand identity for herself. Really it is time that Love stopped hitting on “Da Doo Ron Ron” as if it were her own and give La La Brooks a well earned break, and some respect.