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Phil Spector's Wall of Sound

Phil Spector (photographed in 2000)
Phil Spector brought a new sound to pop music

Record producer Phil Spector has been found guilty, after retrial, of murdering actress Lana Clarkson at his home in Los Angeles.

Spector is credited with creating the "Wall of Sound" recording technique.

Characterised by bombastic, reverberating instruments which constantly threatened to drown out the vocals, the Wall of Sound was one of the first attempts to use the recording studio as an instrument in its own right.

Below are some of the prime examples of Spector's music.

THE CRYSTALS - DA DOO RON RON (1963)

The Crystals

Spector put together an enormous ensemble of musicians to record his Wall of Sound records.

His studio group often consisted of three drummers, bassists, keyboard players, plus numerous guitars, a string orchestra and brass section.

The music was then fed into the echo chambers at the Gold Star studios in Los Angeles, resulting in a rich, booming sound.

His records stood out over the crackle and hiss of AM Radio, making stars of bands like The Crystals.

UK chart position: 5
US chart position: 3

THE RONETTES - BE MY BABY (1963)

The Ronettes

Often cited as the perfectionist producer's crowning achievement, lead singer Veronica Bennett (later Ronnie Spector) rehearsed this song for weeks.

Nonetheless, Spector required 42 takes before he was satisfied with the recording.

Brian Wilson called it "the most perfect pop record of all time" and even paid tribute to it in the Beach Boys' song Mona.

"Listen to Be My Baby, I know you're gonna love Phil Spector."

UK chart position: 4
US chart position: 2

THE BEATLES - THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD (1970)

The Beatles

After producing John Lennon's solo hit Instant Karma, Spector was asked to turn the Beatles' abandoned Get Back sessions into a workable album.

The resulting record, Let It Be, was a commercial success and the band's swansong, but Paul McCartney took exception to Spector's mixes and overdubs and later released his own stripped-back version of the album.

The other Beatles were less worried and Spector continued to produce records for Lennon and George Harrison throughout the 1970s.

UK chart position: Not released
US chart position: 1

PHIL SPECTOR - A CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR YOU (1963)

A Christmas Gift For You from Phil Spector

Spector was resolutely a singles artist, famously describing albums as "two hits and 10 pieces of junk".

The only long-player he ever poured his heart into was A Christmas Gift For You, on which the producer wanted to capture the spirit of the season while making an enduring pop record.

Containing the pick of Spector's girl group stable and the ample talents of Spector's usual "Wrecking Crew" session musicians, it is an exuberant example of the Wall Of Sound recording process.

UK chart position: 19
US chart position: 6

IKE AND TINA TURNER - RIVER DEEP, MOUNTAIN HIGH (1966)

Ike and Tina Turner

Bandleader Ike was banned from the recording session for this single, which Tina Turner said left her "drenched with sweat".

Spector was intensely proud of the song but after its failure in the US charts, his behaviour - often unconventional - became even more erratic.

The song was warmly received in the UK, and over time it has become accepted as a classic in America too. Rolling Stone magazine recently voted it number 33 in a list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

UK chart position: 3
US chart position: 88

RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS - THAT LOVIN' FEELING (1965)

Righteous Brothers

Spector called his records "little symphonies for kids", but You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling transcends that description.

The epitome of the Wall of Sound technique, it is replete with echo, strident percussion and swelling strings.

But many listeners thought the record was being played at the wrong speed when they first heard it, thanks to the deep baritone of singer Bill Medley.

Despite that, You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling became the most-played song in the history of American radio.

UK chart position: 1
US chart position: 1

STARSAILOR - SILENCE IS EASY (2003)

Starsailor

Twenty-year-old Nicole Spector introduced her father to this British rock band in 2002, leading to a dinner date where drummer Ben Byrne had to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre on the ageing producer when he choked on a morsel of food.

Perhaps as a mark of gratitude, he insisted on producing the group's second album, but the sessions ended acrimoniously and only two of his tracks were used.

"The great thing about Phil Spector, and also his weakness, is he's a kind of one-trick pony," said lead singer James Walsh.

"But his one trick is pretty impressive, like a dog that could talk."

UK chart position: 9
US chart position: Did not chart



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