The Crystals Sing the Greatest Hits, Volume 1 sure enough lives up to that mouth-full of a title, but ol’ Phil is at it again. A whopping four songs here are actually the Ronettes, and there’s no mistaking Ronnie’s voice as a heretofore anonymous member of the group suddenly thrust to the lead. (The songs are “Hot Pastrami,” “Mashed Potato Time,” “The Twist,” and “The Wah Watusi,” which features Nedra Talley on lead.) The two Darlene Love led hits are present as well. How could they not be?
The other six selections? Uniformly great songs from the (actual) Crystals catalog, including the towering “Da Doo Ron Ron,” a song where the nonsense lyrics work as both the euphoria of young love and a wink/nudge towards more carnal possibilities beneath the enforced chastity of the genre. To listen to this is to hear the Wall of Sound erect itself around the voices of Barbara Alston, naïve and sweet, and LaLa Brooks, tough but tender.
(If you’re wondering why I didn’t highlight that as the standout track, it’s because I don’t like to double-dip choices when I can avoid it. I’m also very fond of their cover of “On Broadway,” and apparently so was Spector as he kept releasing on various Crystals albums.)
DOWNLOAD: “On Broadway”