Matthew

Phil Spector Dead at 81

109 posts in this topic

11 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Top 40 radio was entirely revenue driven. The revenue came (mostly-to-entirely) from selling ads. Ad prices, were, of course, driven by ratings/listeners. So the object of the game was to get the listeners to buy the records that the DJs played so the listeners would want to listen to the DJ so the station could sell ad blocks. That's a big reason (along with a collective short attention span) why Top 40 records hovered around the 3 minute mark - it lended itself to a good block of programming that then set up a good block of advertising. so when Spector put a false timing on a 45, DJs could, if they weren't careful, fuck up their entire blocking, make the ads get a late start, which then made the next music block start late, lather/rinse/repeat. So doing what Spector did, playing games with the timings, was actually a not-too concealed act of aggression.

What I really enjoyed about the whole "block" thing was when a station would always go to national news at the top of the hour and, all of the timings being real-time and not precisely calculated, an hour would run just a little short. That was when the "bumper music" came into play, usually (where I lived) an instrumental, and quite often, jazz. Wes Montgomery's "Windy", I hear that one a lot waiting for the national news to come on. Mongo's "Watermelon Man", that was another one. None of these got played to completion, of course!

So, it was flexible, it breathed, it was DEFINITELY an analog experiencing of time, cats had to improvise as to what records to play when, and there was always that BEEP at the top of the hour when the news feed started.

I liked it. I liked it a LOT more than what passed for "radio" now...

Anybody with an interest in DJs....there's a lot of airchecks out there, and of course there's the Cruisin' series of re-creations, but this one here is a priceless document of the rise and fall of a singular talent. HIGHLY recommended. The guy was a victim of both changing times and self-destructive habits, but LORD have mercy!

blog_DeweyPhillips2.jpeg

These are great posts. I'm a radio lover, still am to a degree but it's so homogenized & stripped of almost all humanity (unless you go below 92 fm on the dial, that is).

But it's really a tragedy what that '96 Telecom Act did - removed the barriers to monopolizing the airwaves by some cartels and destroyed an art form that brought people together. 

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2 hours ago, JSngry said:

"oldies radio" is an unfortunate phenomenon. The premise of the context is itself an artificial construct, and the way it's played out over the years is damn near sinister. They select a handful of songs, and by god these are the songs you WILL remember.

The only "oldies" station that I ever heard that was worth a damn was one that they had in Tampa when I lived there, 1990-91. It was an AM station and they played a LOT more than just the "approved" hits...

 

FWIW, the Jim Pewter oldies radio shows we got here through rebroadcasts on AFN in the mid-to late 70s (the period I intently listened to AFN - much less so later) weren't THAT limited. And they introduced me to quite a bit more than the typical Top 40 stuff from the 50s and early 60s.

But of course, to go further even then it took specialist oldie shows for REAL fans and collectors (which we luckily did have on one national German radio station at that time) that at least made a point of digging chronologically through the ENTIRE Hot HUNDRED, including (in particualr) its nether regions.

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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Old folks get to/have to tell the same stories over and over again, so...another great thing about AM Top 40 was how after dark, many of the local stations signed off, so it was easy/easier to just go up and down the dial and find stations from other cities that you couldn't get during the day. Sometimes strongly, sometimes faintly. But that wa a good way to hear what was happening in other markets, bot the overlaps and the regionalities. I would spend hours doing this, I mean, literally ours. sometimes for the ball games, but always for the music.

GA Russell doesn't remember this, but I do - there was a station out of New Orleans (WNOE?) that for at least one period, set their turntables just w teensy bit fast. I never timed it, but it was noticeable, and I have to wonder whether the motivation was to get another record in per hour, or to just play the same number of records but to have an extra 30 second ad space to sell per block. either way, you could do that!

I tell you, though - I spent many an evening listening to a combination of WNOE, WLS, KMOX, whatever border radio was going, KOA out of Denver, something out of Memphis, god knows what else. not all of it Top 40, but all of it different. That was fun!

Oh, check this out - AM signal during the day didn't reach too much over 90-100 miles, so getting KLIF out of Dallas, about 120 miles away, was a big deal, and mostly done after dark. Which was cool, because the "after dark" shows were more open programming than during the day. so....

All you had to have was a cheap radio and some curiosity. Such a bargain!

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35 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Anybody with an interest in DJs....there's a lot of airchecks out there, and of course there's the Cruisin' series of re-creations, but this one here is a priceless document of the rise and fall of a singular talent. HIGHLY recommended. The guy was a victim of both changing times and self-destructive habits, but LORD have mercy!

blog_DeweyPhillips2.jpeg

For those who prefer snippets like this on vinyl, ther was this one on the ZuZazz label:

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And to add a little reading matter (and a possible antidote to a Phil spector bio :lol:) for those interested enough:

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42 minutes ago, JSngry said:

 

Oh, check this out - AM signal during the day didn't reach too much over 90-100 miles, so getting KLIF out of Dallas, about 120 miles away, was a big deal, and mostly done after dark. Which was cool, because the "after dark" shows were more open programming than during the day. so....

All you had to have was a cheap radio and some curiosity. Such a bargain!

It's probably all flat country, so the signal does travel, especially at night, when there are not as many electrical interferences.

True story - I was setting up a new cartridge on my turntable about 15 years ago, when I caught a radio station broadcasting from Birmingham, Alabama. I don't have a tuner; somehow the wiring of the cartridge and the tonearm acted as an antenna for a station broadcasting over 1000 miles away. The signal was not very good, but I could listen to DJ's announcements and the music they were playing.
It was far out....and only happened once. I couldn't reproduce this phenomenon afterwards.

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42 minutes ago, Big Beat Steve said:

And to add a little reading matter (and a possible antidote to a Phil spector bio :lol:) for those interested enough:

Phil Spector actually had a pretty interesting musical life, worth reading about if you are so inclined. He was no "phenom" or anything, he really paid some dues in both the music and the record business before hitting big. I had no idea how much there was pre-Philles other than The Teddy Bears and then Spanish Harlem. No hits, but a lot of working at getting it right.

7 minutes ago, Dmitry said:

It's probably all flat country, so the signal does travel, especially at night, when there are not as many electrical interferences.

True story - I was setting up a new cartridge on my turntable about 15 years ago, when I caught a radio station broadcasting from Birmingham, Alabama. I don't have a tuner; somehow the wiring of the cartridge and the tonearm acted as an antenna for a station broadcasting over 1000 miles away. The signal was not very good, but I could listen to DJ's announcements and the music they were playing.
It was far out....and only happened once. I couldn't reproduce this phenomenon afterwards.

Radio waves are freaky things.

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32 minutes ago, Dmitry said:

It's probably all flat country, so the signal does travel, especially at night, when there are not as many electrical interferences.

True story - I was setting up a new cartridge on my turntable about 15 years ago, when I caught a radio station broadcasting from Birmingham, Alabama. I don't have a tuner; somehow the wiring of the cartridge and the tonearm acted as an antenna for a station broadcasting over 1000 miles away. The signal was not very good, but I could listen to DJ's announcements and the music they were playing.
It was far out....and only happened once. I couldn't reproduce this phenomenon afterwards.

My phono stage regularly picks up French radio. 

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Since radio is being talked about, locally where I'm at we recently (within the last 2 years) lost our most prominent jazz station, WSHA 88.9.

The station was run by the oldest HBCU in the south and had a mainly jazz format with specialty shows, NPR & community talk shows, and was started in 1968. And the thing is they sold out for $3.5m to a religious broadcaster   :tdown. A real tragedy around here. The station is now totally different, with no local connection nor any ties to its roots. Despite the efforts of alumni and station supporters the deal went through. WSHA's signal was massive for low-end of the dial station and you could get their broadcasts throughout a lot of this state. 

Now it's down to WNCU, another station owned by an HBCU, this time NC Central in Durham. Their signal isn't as good and if the weather is bad it's pretty hard to pick it up outside of Durham. 

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7 minutes ago, Dub Modal said:

Since radio is being talked about, locally where I'm at we recently (within the last 2 years) lost our most prominent jazz station, WSHA 88.9.

The station was run by the oldest HBCU in the south and had a mainly jazz format with specialty shows, NPR & community talk shows, and was started in 1968. And the thing is they sold out for $3.5m to a religious broadcaster   :tdown. A real tragedy around here. The station is now totally different, with no local connection nor any ties to its roots. Despite the efforts of alumni and station supporters the deal went through. WSHA's signal was massive for low-end of the dial station and you could get their broadcasts throughout a lot of this state. 

Now it's down to WNCU, another station owned by an HBCU, this time NC Central in Durham. Their signal isn't as good and if the weather is bad it's pretty hard to pick it up outside of Durham. 

That lack of localness….not a fan of that, and not just in radio. I'm in favor of unity from the bottom up instead of the top down, although, as with art vs commerce, there is a constant tension to negotiate, That is as it should and will be. But, the local thing...keep it alive, by any means necessary.

Worth noting, though, that the beauty of old-school AM radio was that the dial was not segregated at all. My radio could get the same station as everybody else's, if I wanted it to. And I did.

Where this got interesting as it pertains to your post) was on Sundays, especially Sunday mornings. We just lost a local commercial AM station that was seriously engaged in that, broadcasting stuff from almost-storefront churches in 15 minute block via what for all intents and purposes sounded like a telephone. This station targeted the urban, adult (ie over 50) African-American audience in both music and public affairs/news. And they sold ad time, plenty of it. Still, it was sold to a concern that now broadcasts K-Pop 24/7. another market served, which is cool, but one very important cultural listening post lost. Oh well...

To that end...in this area, anyway, there is a dazzling array of Spanish-language music on both AM and FM, and that is a really significant listening post. Desi culture as well. Still, it's one of many that could be had. When a culture goes dropping off this particular radar, one can't help but having that "canary in the coal mine" feeling.

How Phil Spector fits into this...I don't know and I don't care. Like an AM station at 3 AM, different signals can exist simultaneously!

 

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Good point. I haven't spun the AM dial in a while. Last time it was so full of talk radio (religious, sports or politics) I couldn't stand it. I need to try again. 

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Talk radio, sports or political, never got a taste for that myself (although back when Larry King was on Mutual, I could listen to that for a while). But religious programming....it depends. If it's truly folk-grown, I can give it a listen for at least a little while, not interested in the doctrine, just the voices, the pitches and the cadences, i get fascinated by that stuff for some reason. Problem is, there's less and less of that. I heard some a while back travelling though either Kentucky or Tennessee, and the difference between that and the Infomercial Blitzes was immediately noticeable. Real always gonna real, if you know what I mean.

But within the last 18 months, I was driving though the country and found the most fascinating thing - an bi-lingual evangelist duo. they would tag-team on each other's lines, one in English and then one in Spanish. And they were tight man, non-stop call and response, in a deep pocket. And to fuck things up even more, they would sometimes, every so often, just for a second or so, they would switch languages, the English guy would say a line in Spanish and then the Spanish guy would call it back to him in English, just for a line, and then they got right back on it as before. It was amazing, verbal acrobatics of the highest order.

Of course, driving through the country, I only had signal for not more than 15 minutes, but I tell you man, finding stuff like that is why I still turn the radio on AM whenever I leave town.

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Yeah, I'm not anti-religion, don't want to be mis-construed. But I live in the heart of Southern Baptist country and what they tend to put on the radio is just syndicated national shows from big name preachers. The creativity there is pretty low. 

Edited by Dub Modal

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Yeah, that kind of thng is dis-spiriting. Shame on them, or worse! You're supposed to make a joyous noise, not some infernal hateracket screambeam….

Y'all need to get those bi-lingual tag-team evangelists on your radio, that'll liven thing sup!

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I'll bet you some folks like that are on the stations toward the mountains. If I ever head that way again I'll see what I can find. 

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Good luck. If you find it, it will be probably very local. But if you treasure (even just a little bit) that kind of local just/still being there....it's good to know and good to find.

Example - I heard some local "family gospel" group singing a song about how they going to sit at (not on or in, AT) the "rocking chair of Jesus" because when they were kids, they would sit at grandmother's rocking chair and all their troubles of the day would magically vanish. Simple as that, grandma's gone, but Jesus ain't. There's your song. Just some people twanging away in full-bore mountain belief system, sincerely expressed, no amped up emo vibe or anything and corny as hell, but hey, corny is real too. corny is VERY real. It teared me up, just a little, to be honest.

And then it was gone.

I don't know that I'd ever want to marry into that family, if you know what I mean, but I would gladly share a table with them at Bob Evans for as long as they could stand me being there. :g

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1 hour ago, JSngry said:

 He was no "phenom" or anything, he really paid some dues in both the music and the record business before hitting big. I had no idea how much there was pre-Philles other than The Teddy Bears and then Spanish Harlem.

Here's what is pre-Philles on the Back to Mono box set:

ck Catalogue Release Date Chart Peak Song Title Writer(s) Artist Time
1. Dore 503 December 1958 #1 To Know Him Is to Love Him Phil Spector The Teddy Bears 2:23
2. Dunes 2002 January 1961 #9 Corrine, Corrina Mitchell Parish, Bo Chatman, J. Mayo Williams Ray Peterson 2:40
3. Atco 6185 1961 #10 Spanish Harlem Jerry Leiber and Phil Spector Ben E. King 2:51
4. Dunes 2007 August 1961 #7 Pretty Little Angel Eyes Tommy Boyce and Curtis Lee Curtis Lee 2:45
5. Musicor 1011 September 1961 #42 Every Breath I Take Gerry Goffin and Carole King Gene Pitney 2:43
6. Gregmark 6 October 1961 #5 I Love How You Love Me Barry Mann and Larry Kolber The Paris Sisters 2:06
7. Dunes 2008 November 1961 #46 Under the Moon of Love Tommy Boyce and Curtis Lee Curtis Lee 2:50

and here is what is on a PD collection I have.  The pre-Philles cuts on it, apart from some of the hits on the box set, are strictly "historical interest" as opposed to "good".

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How do you not like Gene Pitney?!?!?! In the words of George Harrison, how do you explain Gene Pitney? There is no explanation for Gene Pitney!

Spector I forget which of the bios it was that detailed all this...maybe both in varying degree) also did a lot of assistant work, flunky work, kinda like what Sonny Bono did for him. Spector worked inside the system before he worked outside of it. Learned the system so he could game the system, and he did it with chops. It took a nation of petty DJs to hold him down!

It's easy to look at people like this just in terms of records (I know I do), but in reality, their lives are no different than ours, their days still have 24 hours, and they too have to do something in that time. In Spector's case, it was a lot of schlepping around, learning the business from all sides.

btw - the flip side of "To Know him...", what's it called, "Don't You Worry", something like that. first time I heard that, I was like, WHOA, it was Wall Of Sound DENSE, just not with all the instruments and stuff.

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I LOVE Gene Pitney!  Own this (3 CD's, 75 cuts).  BTW, that documentary on the Wrecking Crew from a few years ago (excellent, and the hours and hours of extras hold up) did a nice job of showing they had lives apart from the records they made.  Though I do lose track of considering that.  BTW, Hal Blaine's drumming on "Last Chance To Turn Around" is something I have asked people to listen to.

Gene Pitney - Twentyfour Hours From Tulsa - The Very Best Of Gene Pitney -  The Musicor Years 1961-1972 (2005, CD) | Discogs

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8 hours ago, JSngry said:

Yeah, that kind of thng is dis-spiriting. Shame on them, or worse! You're supposed to make a joyous noise, not some infernal hateracket screambeam….

Y'all need to get those bi-lingual tag-team evangelists on your radio, that'll liven thing sup!

Pre-pandemic, I had to drive all over the West, and on Sunday mornings, going through small towns that had an  AM radio station, I'd hear some very.... interesting sermons

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Just now, Matthew said:

Pre-pandemic, I had to drive all over the West, and on Sunday mornings, going through small towns that had an  AM radio station, I'd hear some very.... interesting sermons

AM & FM - the number of religious stations is astounding and bothersome if you are looking for an NPR station while traveling.

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Why, with all the technology, with all the advanced production tools, THIS IS NOT EVEN CLOSE -

[For Christ's sake, look how many people are on the stage, playing and singing, must be over 30.]

 

- to THIS in energy, objective beauty, and just emotion. A masterpiece.

 

 

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On 2/3/2021 at 11:24 AM, JSngry said:

GA Russell doesn't remember this, but I do - there was a station out of New Orleans (WNOE?) that for at least one period, set their turntables just w teensy bit fast. I never timed it, but it was noticeable, and I have to wonder whether the motivation was to get another record in per hour, or to just play the same number of records but to have an extra 30 second ad space to sell per block. either way, you could do that!

When I was a senior in high school, a classmate intended to become a disc jockey for a career, and he talked to a lot of people in the business.  He told me that stations sped up their turntables in order to make the station sound more peppy.

Jim, you are about five years younger than me, so you may have listened to different DJs.  In my day, WNOE's evening jock was CC Courtney, and the overnight jock was Lou Kirby.  Here's my Lou Kirby story.

One night I woke up at 2:00 am.  I had a pocket transistor radio, so I put it under my pillow, and listened for a while.  This might have been March of '66.  Kirby said, Now listen to this.  I'm going to play a song that features a guitarist who used to play with The Yardbirds!

Of course it was the Beano album.  I have no recollection what the song was, but I can say that I remember hearing Eric Clapton for the first time!

Edited by GA Russell

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8 hours ago, Captain Howdy said:

 the fact that the jocks talked over the song's intro right up until the lyrics began and always cut the song short to resume talking or start a new song or go into a commercial (which were almost as as abundant as songs). 

When I started in radio I learned about all the important information coded in with artist/song, key of which was how much music played before the singing commenced, AKA 'the ramp' - Shania Twain, Any Man of Mine must have had the longest ramp of all - as well as the ending, F for fade and C for cold. I can't imagine that in the free-form radio years jocks had any idea about this info and had to learn on the fly.

I'm now reminded of the one hit wonder "Beach Baby" - I had no recollection of the strings/orchestra arrangement over the the last 90 seconds or more of the song until I bought a 70s compilation that had that track.

Question for those older than me: Did they really fade out or talk over "Hey Jude" or "The Boxer"?

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Not usually, but occasionally.

Top 40 DJ-ing, getting that seamless flow with NO dead air, there was anbart to that. EZ Listening stations flaunted their non-non-stop-ness, it was the adult way to do things. Of course.

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1 hour ago, JSngry said:

Not usually, but occasionally.

Top 40 DJ-ing, getting that seamless flow with NO dead air, there was anbart to that. EZ Listening stations flaunted their non-non-stop-ness, it was the adult way to do things. Of course.

It was a helluva an adjustment when I went from TNT Country to Mello 105. Not only letting every song fade completely into nothingness before the next track was triggered, but specific instruction on how to back-announce including precise inflections.  Then when I was handed the morning drive slot when someone got shit-canned very suddenly, they were upset that I had "no personality". You drained it out of me, fuckers.

Edited by Dan Gould

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