The Essential Phil Spector

Phil Spector

Legacy, 2011

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


He was one of the most creative and influential producers in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. Today, Phil Spector resides at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran, California. He will be eligible for parole at the age of 88.

While he would produce albums by The Beatles, John Lennon, George Harrison, The Ramones, Dion, and others, it was his early and mid-‘60s work that made Spector a producing legend. His technique was called The Wall Of Sound and it included a dense layered sound in which he recorded the instrumental parts over and over again before combining them together, adding in the use of echo chambers and reverb. While these techniques are now a part of accepted recording techniques, back in the early 1960’s, they were inventive and cutting-edge.

As Spector’s music continues to reach the 50 year mark, it is being re-released in all sorts of configurations. There are artist compilation albums, there are reissues of original albums, there is a massive box set, and then there is the subject of this review, the two disc my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Essential Phil Spector. If you are unfamiliar with his work or want just a taste of some of the best music of the early rock ‘n’ roll era, then this is an album for you.

The 35 tracks that comprise The Essential Phil Spector were well-chosen, as they not only cover some of his well-known productions but also present a number of his forgotten hits as well.

Many of his pre-Phillies label singles included a number of styles and sounds and one can discern his growing expertise and experimentation. “Corinne Corrina” by Ray Peterson, “Spanish Harlem” by Ben E. King, “Pretty Little Angel Eyes” by Curtis Lee, “Every Breath I Take” by Gene Pitney, and “I Love How You Love Me” by The Paris Sisters find Spector in the formative stages of his career as a writer and producer.

Anyone interested in the history of early rock ‘n’ roll is probably familiar with his work with The Ronettes (“Be My Baby,” “Baby I Love You,” “Walking In The Rain,” and “Do I Love You”), The Crystals (“There’s No Other Like My Baby,” “Then He Kissed Me,” “He’s A Rebel,” and “He’s Sure The Boy I Love”), Darlene Love (“Wait Til’ My Bobby Gets Home,” “Today I Met The Boy I’m Gonna Marry,” “A Fine Fine Boy,” and “Stumble and Fall”) , and The Righteous Brothers (“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” “Unchained Melody,” and “Ebb Tide.”)

Throw in the epic “River Deep, Mountain High” by Ike & Tina Turner, the smooth “Black Pearl” by Sonny Charles and The Checkmates LTD, and the obscure “This Could Be The Night” by The Modern Folk Quartet, and you have the makings of a interesting and in many ways essential listening experience.

It is tragic that Phil Spector will not be around for the half-century celebrations of his music. The Essential Phil Spector is a nice overview of his early career and should be required listening for anyone even remotely interested in the history and development of rock ‘n’ roll.

Rating: A-

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Phil Spector stuck a gun in an innocent woman's mouth and ended her life.

© 2011 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Legacy, and is used for informational purposes only.