Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I have always heard that Sun and Philles are among the most collectible record labels ever. Sun has been thoroughly documented, but Philles information is harder to come by.

I know they weren't around very long, but how many singles and albums did Philles issue? How many were hits?

Now that the murder trial of Phil Spector is underway, do you think the outcome will affect the desirability of his productions?
—Brad Wilkins, St. Petersburg, Fla.

DEAR BRAD: Phil Spector and the late Lester Sill (1918-1994) formed Philles Records by combining their assets as well as their names (Phil + Les), in the summer of 1961.

Their first single, “There's No Other (Like My Baby)” by the Crystals (Philles 100) made the Top 20 and greased the wheels for an enormously successful five-year run.

After just one year, Spector bought out Sill's interest in the company and assumed complete control.

Other than a few special promotional issues, Extended Plays, and assorted oddities, Philles issued 37 singles and 11 LPs between November '61 and July '67.

Of those 37 singles, 29 made at least one of the national charts — an extraordinary degree of success.

Crafting nearly every recording into a hit speaks volumes about Spector's genius as well as the talented singers, musicians (“The Wrecking Crew”), and arrangers he selected.

Two dozen of those hits came from the Darlene Love-Crystals affiliation (11); the Ronettes (8); and the Righteous Brothers (5).

The others are by Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans (3); Alley Cats (1); and Ike & Tina Turner (1).

In one phenomenal 24-month stretch — September '62 through August '64 — Philles charted 17 consecutive standard catalog (non-holiday) hits without a miss!

Thanks mostly to Bob Hatfield and Bill Medley, Philles did see five of their 11 albums in the Top 100. “You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin';” Just Once in My Life”; and “Back to Back” all did extremely well for the Righteous Brothers.

The other two are “Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica” and the landmark holiday compilation, “A Christmas Gift for You.”

Rounding out the Philles LP discography are three by the Crystals (“Twist Uptown;” “He's a Rebel;” and “The Crystals Sing Greatest Hits, Volume 1”, a various artists collection (“Today's Hits”), and one each by Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans (“Zip-a-Dee Doo Dah”) and Lenny Bruce (“Out Again”).

Anything is possible, but I would think those Wall of Sound productions would remain collectible regardless of which side of prison walls Mr. Spector finds himself.

DEAR JERRY: Did legendary blues singer Big Bill Broonzy ever have a bona fide hit?

Also, what is his first single release?
—Geoff Vernon, Santa Monica, Calif.

DEAR GEOFF: Broonzy did not chart in the traditional sense, though we must give him partial credit for Lil Green's 1940 hit, “Romance in the Dark” (Bluebird B-8524).

Though the label merely indicates “Singing with instrumental accomp,” Broonzy is the featured guitarist.

Moreover, this blues-jazz standard is co-written by “Lil Green and Willie Broonzy.”

Bill's first single came out in 1928, “House Rent Stomp” backed with “Big Bill Blues” (Paramount 12656), a 78 rpm that now retails for about $4,000.

The credit on this relic reads “Big Bill and Thomps,” Thomps being a nickname for John Thomas.

IZ ZAT SO? Since Philles fans will quickly notice the absence of Ike & Tina Turner's 1966 LP, “River Deep - Mountain High” (Philles LP-4011) above, we best at least mention it.

Because Phil Spector scrapped the album project before printing the covers, “River Deep - Mountain High” was not an official Philles LP issue. The tracks did come out years later in various configurations, but never on Philles.

Only a handful of discs survived the destruction order, and one of those coverless copies can sell for $10,000!

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