Ronnie Spector is a member of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, having fronted one the great girl groups of the early sixties. She has recorded with The E Street Band, hung out with John Lennon, and also (probably most importantly) survived a marriage to Phil Spector.
I still have my original copy of Presenting The Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica in my record collection.
Ronnie Spector, born Veronica Yvette Bennett, began singing with her sister Estelle and cousin Nedra Talley in the late 1950s and by 1961 they were performing under the name The Ronettes. They were a part of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound and produced such memorable singles as “Be My Baby,” “Baby, I Love You,” “Do I Love You,” and “Walking In The Rain.” The group split in 1966 leaving behind a short but memorable legacy.
Counting her 1999 EP, The Last Of The Rock Stars is her eighth album release in the last 29 years. Her voice may not have the same quality as it did a half century ago but it is still a powerful instrument. And what she has lost in range, she has more than made up for in passion and emotion.
“Never Gonna Be Your Baby” is a powerful song of independence and defiance. It is Ronnie Spector with attitude. “Ode To L.A.” and “All I Want” evoke memories of her work with The Ronettes. Her use of a back-up group serves to enhance the experience.
She shares “There Is An End” with fellow survivor Patti Smith. Their vocal styles match well and it is gritty rock ‘n’ roll at its best. The duet with Keith Richards on “Work Out Fine” may be a stretch in places but it is still very interesting.
The album concludes with two very strong tracks. Frankie Lyman was a musical hero of the young Veronica Bennett and here she pays tribute with “Out In The Cold Again,” which he recorded in 1957. She gives a jazz-laced vocal with a mournful saxophone in support. Another treat is the holiday song “It’s Christmas Once Again.”
Ronnie Spector is still on the road, constantly touring. The Last Of The Rock Stars not only draws upon her legendary past but brings her into the present with a formidable set of material. It is an album that stands on its own as she completes fifty years as a singer of note.