First Hit #1: November 2, 1962
The credit on the box says the Crystals. Yet, the Crystals didn’t sing on the track – and, from reports, didn’t know the track was being released under their name until they heard it on the radio. Nope, it’s a woman named Darlene Love, backed by the Blossoms, none of whom are Crystals but all of whom are quite good at singing and have given us a good song after a string of stuff I don’t like very much. He’s a rebel is charming, a fun track about dedication to a man who might not play by the rules, like a cop on an ’80s crime show. Love has fun with it, taking the vocal to interesting places and really selling the song. She does it so well I don’t see why she wasn’t made a star rather than the secret Crystal.
Of course, the song will always have its legacy besmirched by Phil Spector’s chicanery. See, the Crystals were out touring and Spector didn’t want to wait for them to return, so he brought in a different group. He didn’t even bother trying to get singers that were actually similar to Crystals singers, so the group had to reorganize just to sing it live. And as fun, catchy and well recorded as it might be, it can be hard to get past the lie at the core. Though, admittedly, easier than it would be if it wasn’t really good. See Vanilli, Milli.