August 10, 2014

Sure, my other post the other day highlighted Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound” years of dominance on the rock and roll scene, but he had an equally deft touch on music that today is just as, if not more, popular than his rock and roll hits from the early ’60s. Consider the following Phil Spector-produced songs from the ’70s. Consider:

* Mother, from Plastic Ono Band. In my view, one of the most raw and riveting performances ever caught on tape.

* Happy Xmas, War is Over, 45 RPM single

* My Sweet Lord, What Is Life, I Live For You, and Behind That Locked Door, from George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass”

* Imagine, from Imagine.

* Stand By Me, from John Lennon’s Rock ‘n’ Roll.

* (Do You Remember) Rock And Roll Radio and Rock ‘N’ Roll High School from End of the Century. Legend has it Spector spent days having Johnny Ramone perfect that awesome opening chord to “High School”. (I believe it – it’s the best opening chord to a song after George Harrison’s majestic opening chord on “A Hard Day’s Night”.)

In the ’70s Phil might have had his problems and bizarre excesses, but his trademark style was all over the above tunes and the albums he produced. He got slammed for his work on Let It Be, but I would argue his mix of both the album’s title song and The Long and Winding Road compared to the “dry” versions that George Martin produced (here and here) made them come alive for radio at the time. Phil’s deft touch at the mixing board created a depth of sound on the most basic of instruments (listen to clean sound of the piano and drums on “Mother”), and his trademark shimmering strings – made famous on legendary Christmas Album cuts like this and this – make tunes like Imagine and Jealous Guy the classics they are. There never was – and never will be – anyone who could record strings and make them shimmer like Phil Spector did.

Sure (if legend has it) he kept the Ramones locked up in his mansion at gun point until they got the sound of Baby I love You the way he wanted it, who am I to argue? Dude was nuts, but he was an artiste in every sense of the word. And as an artist he is, and always will be, one of my heroes. As a human being? Well, all I can say is no one is perfect and no one should go throwing stones at glass houses.

Course, I never killed anyone. But I’m not convinced he did, either.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:52 | Comments (0)
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