Album Of The Year: 1964

The idea behind this ‘series’ is that once every two weeks another year will be brought into attention, starting with 1963 and moving onward chronologically. One and only one album will be selected and written about from each year, the criteria being a mix of personal preference and historical relevance. If you stumble upon this article by any chance and end up not clicking the ‘x’ button in disgust, keep in mind that I would love to hear your choice for the respective year – from a simple comment stating the album’s name, to detailed analysis that will destroy my argument and make me reconsider my reasoning. Remember, one of the main reasons I’m doing this is to get a better perspective of what albums I’ve missed out on, from each period of time.

Today’s Pick: The Ronettes – Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Ft. Veronica

The Ronettes - Presenting The Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica

In retrospect, the 60’s as a decade is almost a synonym with the ‘British Invasion’ led by that B-letter band riding on a wave of hysterical, screaming girls and cementing the notion of what a ‘rock’ band should sound and be like for millions to follow. It is true that many (myself included) associate the decade primarily with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones or Jimi Hendrix rather than The Supremes, The Temptations or The Miracles. But, from time to time, we need a quick reminder regarding 60’s R&B. The reminder? That it absolutely rules.

Charming, soulful, well-written, well-arranged, hook-filled songs that you’ll end up humming for days. What’s not to love? You’ve got your Aretha Franklin. You’ve got your Sam Cooke. You’ve got your Motown label releasing brilliant single after brilliant single, in an almost machine gun-like manner. You’ve got your Phil Spector records, sung by many artists but ultimately all tied together by a revolutionary production technique. You’ve got your…

OK that’s enough, I think I’ve made my point pretty clear. There’s a lot of amazing R&B music I’ve grown to love in the last year or so. One album in particular that I keep coming back to is the forgotten ‘Presenting The Fabulous Ronettes featuring Veronica’. It is the girl-group’s first and only LP, recorded under the guidance of Phil “mad purist” Spector. As a result, all of the songs feature this unique, dense sound, full of instruments playing on top of each other (the so-called “wall-of-sound”). Later, Brian Wilson would himself adopt this technique and take it to places Spector never dreamed of, but that doesn’t diminish Phil’s impact – he truly was one of the first people in pop music to treat the production of a song as an art.

Speaking of Brian Wilson, I’ve always felt that the sound of this record was not the only thing that did a number of him. Thematically, ‘Ronettes featuring Veronica’ highlights the many stages of a love relationship, one by one, just like Pet Sounds would do two years later. Another thing that it has in common with The Beach Boys’ masterpiece is the fact that it’s so consistent throughout that it almost gives you the impression that you’re listening to a greatest hits compilation. 5 of the 12 songs were hit singles, while the other 7 sound like they could’ve been. The cherry on the top of the cake is Ronnie Spector’s voice – an irresistible mix of innocence and sexiness that fits the subject matters perfectly.

All in all, this is one of those albums somehow turned out to be nearly perfect, despite the artist’s obvious inclination towards the singles market. When I think of 1964, it comes to my mind before anything else. And it’s not just because I happen to have a weakness for girls with beehive haircuts.

Do you agree? What’s your favourite album from 1964?

Find the previous parts here: 1963

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Categories: Album of the Year

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3 replies

  1. This one is intriguing – not being familiar with this record, I’d have to choose A Hard Day’s Night by as you put it, that B-letter band!
    Looking forward to ’65 – I’m not even sure what Dylan I’d pick as my favourite Dylan from that year!

    Like

  2. Like the Ronettes. Found out about them through Springsteen.

    Liked by 1 person

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