Some records are cut so loud and dense that the needle can jump out of the grooves-- purpose-built for the heavy-weight arm of a jukebox. River Deep Mountain High isn't just dense; it's a black hole. Phil Spector's intention was to take R&B to a new dimension, sucking in and spitting out the folkniks, jug bands and longhairs who had stormed pop's citadel since his last major hit-- The Righteous Brothers' You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' in late '64. It was a last throw of the dice. Back came his favourite songwriters, the semi-retired Barry and Greenwich with a weirdly innocent/ intense lyric about rag dolls, puppy dogs, schoolboys and pie. In came the searing Tina. For the only time he used two drummers. It was do or die, and in the States it duly died at number 88. Still, in Britain ( where it made number 3), Spector's Waterloo pumped out of Wurlitzers across the land, destroying everything in its path.
Availability: River Deep Mountain High A&M CD
31. GENE VINCENT AND HIS BLUE CAPS: Be Bop A Lula/ Woman Love (1956)
Gene Vincent's debut 45 made immediate contact with teenagers the world over. Delivered with an intensity that's scarcely been matched since, Gene sounds like he's about to explode. It's more of a Marlon Brando film script than a song, with impending tragedy lurking at the end of every line and one million teens' sexual frustrations jam-packed into the strained yet restrained 45. Perhaps that explains why Elvis Presley's mum thought it was her own offspring singing the song.
Availability: Blue Jean Bop! Capitol CD