Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Canon #9

The Crystals/Phil Spector - "Then He Kissed Me"

When that immortal chord progression and timpani roll kicks in, it is immediately recognizable. "Then He Kissed Me" is, quite simply, one of the greatest songs of all the time; as well as one of the most ripped off songs of all time -- that fabled chord-progression being the source of much musical pilfering. Its DNA can even be detected in Joy Division's greatest song, "Love Will Tear Us Apart," and, if you disagree, get your damn hearing checked.

Although this song was written by the songwriting trio Ellie Greenwich/Jeff Barry/Phil Spector (also responsible for the band's hit songs "Da Doo Run Run" and "He's A Rebel"), the Crystals sang this song like it wasn't meant for anyone else in the world. La La Brooks' lead vocals sounded simultaneously fragile and steadfast. Spector decided to give The Crystals this song only after La La Brooks had been instated as the group's lead vocalist. Beyond the group's soaring vocal performance, this song is one of the finest examples of Spector's "Wall-of-Sound" production technique. In fact, some would argue that this was the first time that he truly got his sound crystallized (no pun intended). The before-mentioned timpani was played along-side a typical drumset to create that big, rolling percussion sound he favored. Every instrument - guitar, bass, strings, drums, and vocals - was wrapped in a cocoon of reverb. This resulted in the dense echo effect on the recording.

Although this song has become an over-played oldie that you'll hear at an abundance of weddings, it still has lost very little of it's appeal and power over the last 40 years. You can hear obvious strains of its influence in an over-whelming amount of songs over the last four decades - both in a melodic and production sense. The next time you hear some garage rock/indie-pop band bang out those old, familiar chords, don't roll your eyes - they're probably just paying homage.


At 5:51 pm GMT-5, Blogger Rob said...

yeah, love will tear us apart's coda is basically just this song.

see also: the clientele's "since k got over me"

basically all songs have sounded more or less the same since "then he kissed me" and "be my baby"

damn you, spector

At 3:50 pm GMT-5, Blogger Ben said...

see also: The Magnetic Fields' "Born On A Train" and The Ponys' "Fall Inn"


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