Friday, April 17, 2009

The Crystals - Let's Dance The Screw (Part 1)

We've had some pretty weird selections this week, so I might as well close the thing out properly.

Phil Spector formed Philles Records in 1961 with Lester Sill, one of those promoter/manager/executive types that grease the wheels of the recording industry. Most of Spector's biggest hits, from "Da Doo Ron Ron" to "Be My Baby" to "River Deep Mountain High", were published by Philles, but unfortunately for Sill he was well out of the picture by then. As one might expect with a business enterprise where one partner is a paranoid, gun-wielding egomaniac, things eventually went south and Spector and Sill parted ways on ugly terms - Sill sold his share of Philles to Spector for $60,000 in 1962, a pittance even then, simply because he didn't want to be around Spector any more. But Spector left him one other parting gift, the legendary Philles 111, "Let's Dance The Screw", a simplistic, repetitive and completely unreleasable song he'd worked up and recorded with the Crystals simply as a last "fuck you" to Sill. Legend has it that 111's purpose was to fuck Sill out of royalties, since Spector owed him a final single and by making it this record he ensured that Sill wouldn't get shit - the same legend, more or less, that's attached itself to Here, My Dear, although sadly it's probably untrue for Spector's song. Most sources say that the voice on the record belongs to Spector, although some claim it was his lawyer. This is side A, side B is more of the same but slower and longer. In any case, only a handful of pressings, all promo copies and marked "NOT FOR SALE" were ever made of the record, so it's one of the rarest artifacts of the pop era, and it's likely that many people had been reading about this infamous record for years without ever actually hearing it. But then they invented Youtube, so enjoy.

(Apropos of Spector's recent well-deserved final act, The Crystals were also involved in Spector's other infamous Philles single, "He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)", which was actually written by Goffin/King, and in the hands of someone other than Spector might have come across as satire, but under his guidance is just fucking creepy beyond words.)

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