Ronnie Spector, "English Heart" (429 Records)
In 1964, Ronnie Spector toured Britain with the Ronettes just weeks before the Beatles arrived in America. "English Heart" is her tribute to that British Invasion, in turn influenced by her band and former husband Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound."
While Spector is often cited for the power of her pipes, these 11 songs are styled more around subtlety and insinuation.
Producer Scott Jacoby has wisely favored the feel of the 1960s originals over the sounds, evocation rather than imitation. There are exceptions, like the thumping drums and Farfisa organ on the Dave Clark Five tune "Because." Conversely, electronic percussion on "You've Got Your Troubles" (originally by The Fortunes) lends a contemporary touch, contributing to the accommodating combination of old and new.
If there's a jarring moment on the album, it's Spector substituting "baby" for "Lord" on the refrain of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," which somehow manages to seem faster than the Animals' version when it is actually slower.
Spector wisely covers smaller but superior U.S. hits like Lulu's "Oh Me Oh My (I'm a Fool for You Baby)" and Sandie Shaw's "Girl Don't Come" instead of the usual smashes. A version of the Rolling Stones' semi-obscure "I'd Much Rather Be With the Girls" with the daughter of her late sister (and fellow Ronette) Estelle Bennett and cousin Cindy Mizelle is pure joy.
Hindered by an uneven recording career since the '70s, Spector also covers the Zombies, Beatles, Bee Gees and Kinks on "English Heart," and sounds ready to create some more memories of her own.