Friday, December 16, 2005

The Best Holiday Songs (1st in a Possible Series)

Back in the early 60’s, before he was known as a loon and alleged murderer, Phil Spector was one of the most sought after record producers around. Phil’s specialty was taking young singers and their songs and re-working their efforts with his patented, “Wall of Sound” production; that is a full orchestra, a lot of percussion, dozens of background singers and the finest studio musicians from the west coast.

Phil worked with a lot singers including Ronnie Bennet (who he eventually married), The Righteous Brothers, Ike and Tina Turner and even the Beatles.

His most gifted singer, the one who, if there were any justice in the world, should have been the most celebrated singer of all time, was Darlene Love.

Love still works (Broadway, studio work, and films – she played Danny Glover’s wife in both Lethal Weapon films), and she still has a tremendous voice that can go from a soft croon to a rafter raising gospel howl – Darlene Love could give Aretha Franklin a run for her money!

In 1962, Spector took his cache of artists into the studio and recorded, “A Christmas Gift to You”, which included the zenith of Holiday Pop songs, “
Christmas, Baby Please Come Home”.

What starts as a happy, even poppy, seasonal song, soon builds to be a mini opera about heart break; and Love owns this puppy! As the music develops and layers with more and more instrumentation and background singers, Love meets and beats and breaks through the din until she hits the climax of this modern day carol and she literally bellows, “Baby Please Come Home” at the top of her lungs; it’s a prayer, a plea, and possibly even a sexual release.

A few years ago, U2 covered this song and Darlene Love sang backing vocals on it – I love U2, but they ruined this tune. Go seek out the original and listen to it at full volume; I promise, you will be electrified!

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