Ronnie Spector’s legend precedes her. She is the rock and roll diva that with her sister Estelle and her cousin Nedra became the Ronettes and the voice behind Phil Spector’s famed “Wall of Sound.” The former Veronica Bennett then married Spector and he proceeded to destroy her life and her career with his jealousy and irrational behavior.
Spector (Ronnie that is) essentially disappeared in the 70’s and 80’s until “Take Me Home Tonight,” her 1986 duet with Eddie Money, and her subsequent flop album for Columbia Records in 1987. The release of She Talks to Rainbows marks her return to the rock and roll wars. Unfortunately Ronnie is shooting blanks.
The EP, which was produced by Daniel Rey and Joey Ramone, takes full advantage of Spector’s throaty purr of a voice but suffers from weak songs and too spare production (no chance of mistaking this for a wall of sound). The title track starts out pleasantly enough and is indeed about a woman that talks to rainbows. Unfortunately the flat melody of the song only serves to emphasize the pedestrian nature of its lyrics.
Spector and Ramone’s duet on the Johnny Thunder song “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory” demonstrates why The Ramones tended to sing songs with two or three notes. Joey does not have what could be called a full vocal range. The strongest cut on the disc is Brian Wilson’s “Don’t Worry Baby” which, legend has it, was written specifically for Ronnie. This version of the song is serviceable but it pales in comparison to the soaring Beach Boy harmonies of the original.
The good news is that Ronnie Spector is in good voice throughout the EP. If she could find some solid songs and connect with a producer that will complement her talents (ala Phil), Spector might be able to make one last run at the rock and roll brass ring.
// Notes from the Road
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