The death of the legendary, incomparable Ronnie Spector is a shock. Did a singer ever seem more alive? From her ground-breaking singles with the Ronettes throughout the 1960s to various efforts to jump start her solo career from the 1970s on, Spector gave it her all. And while she never managed to pull off a Tina Turner kind of comeback in her solo phase she did produce some fine singles and albums, particularly those backed by Springsteen’s E Street Band. However, hands down, my favourite post-Ronettes release from Ronnie Spector is her collaboration with Marshall Crenshaw.
Recorded in 1989, Something’s Gonna Happen was only finally released in 2003. The EP is a dynamic blast of everything that made Spector special: gutsy vocals, Ronettes-quality background singing, and a crack musical backing from Crenshaw’s amazing mid-1980s band. And the tunes really work for her too. The EP focuses on material from Crenshaw’s first two albums, two from each and a rare cut that he never released, with the whole thing produced by Crenshaw’s early producer Alan Betrock. From 1983’s Field Day, Spector adds a tenderness to the vocal on “For His Love” and puts her own stamp on “Whenever You’re On My Mind.” But it’s the material from Crenshaw’s self-titled 1982 debut that really allows Spector to shine, adding a new spark to “Favorite Waste of Time” and turning “Something’s Gonna Happen” into a should-be hit single. The unreleased Crenshaw track “Communication” is another highlight, a solid tune that Spector really makes her own. In a better world, the release of this EP would have marked Spector’s triumphant return to the spotlight.
As the lights dim on the stage, Ronnie Spector is gone. But everybody in listening range knows something happened here. Thankfully we can relive the magic again and again with these great recordings. Visit her website here or check out her recent super holiday EP on bandcamp.