Phil Spector’s legal problems of the past decade have over shadowed his success, contributions, and influences in the world of American music, which led to his induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
He was tried for second-degree murder twice, first in 2007 and again in 2008. The first ended in a mistrial, as it had a hung jury, which voted 10-2 in favor of a conviction. He was convicted at the second trial and sentenced to 19 years to life in prison. He will not be eligible for parole until he turns 88 years old.
Fifty years ago, during 1961, a young Phil Spector established his own Phillies Label. It was with this label as owner, songwriter, and especially producer that he would develop recording techniques that would become known as the Wall Of Sound. His use of multi-tracking and layering of vocals were some of the most creative in music production and recording history. While he would go on to produce The Beatles, solo releases by John Lennon and George Harrison, Dion, Leonard Cohen, and The Ramones, it was these early 1960s recordings that would cement his reputation.
In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Phillies label, Sony Legacy, in conjunction with Phil Spector Records, has issued a series of CDs by The Crystals, The Ronettes, Darlene Love, and a greatest hits compilation.
Wall Of Sound: The Very Best Of Phil Spector 1961-1966 is an excellent introduction to his sound and music. While many of the 19 tracks are contained on the other releases, there are some important differences. If you want to gain a nice flavor of what the Wall Of Sound is all about, this is a good place to start.
The Crystals (6 tracks), The Ronettes (5), Bob B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans (2), and Darlene Love (4) provided some of the best music of the first half of the 1960s. Songs such as “He’s A Rebel,” “Da Doo Ron Ron,” “Baby I Love You,” “Wait Til’ My Bobby Gets Home,” “Do I Love You,” and “Then He Kissed Me” all remain essential listens nearly 50 years after their original release.
“Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” by Bob B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans was left off the Darlene Love album for some reason but placed here. It was a Top Ten hit, and while the song itself may be a little dated, the production is worth the price of admission.
Another addition was “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” by The Righteous Brothers. The song topped the American singles chart for two weeks and received seven million radio airplays.
The gem of the collection is “River Deep, Mountain High” by Ike & Tina Turner. The song reached number three on the British singles charts but only 88 in The United States. It was Spector at the top of his game. The recording used 21 backing vocalists and cost over $20,000 to produce. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked the song number 33 on its list of “The 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time.”
Wall Of Sound: The Very Best Of Phil Spector 1961-1966 is a trip back in time to some of the best music of the 1960s. The songs gathered here are a demonstration of the musical genius of Phil Spector and his Wall Of Sound.