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The Quietus Spotify Playlist: Phil Spector And The Wall Of Sound
John Doran , April 17th, 2009 09:02

So inevitably murder-wigged misogynist cretin Phil Spector got sent down this week. Cue lots of jokes about him staring at the wall of sound for the rest of his natural days.

His conviction and the manner in which it unfolded raises manifold questions. How did this mess take six years to resolve? Does he still have everything to play for given that he's a famous guy living in California? What kind of society turns a blind eye to scum like Spector who already have repeated form for spousal assault, firearms offences and even kidnapping? How was this deranged fucker ever allowed to keep guns in the first place? It's not like he didn't routinely pull his guns out and threaten just about everyone he worked with in the past.

A question that hasn't been raised by this crime, however, is one regarding Spector's genius.

His wall of sound technique - like most good ideas - seems obvious in retrospect. He marshalled numerous guitars over various tracks, running through different effects and then bolstered the sound with brass and woodwind. The rhythm was enhanced by shakers and percussion. And finally: the echo chambers weren't spared.

Talking about this means of production he said, not unreasonably: "[It is] a Wagnerian approach to rock & roll: little symphonies for the kids."

But for the overly sensitive souls (I'm not going to call them politically correct as this usually indicates unhinged right wing tendencies in the complainer. But it is, I guess, what I mean) who govern radio playlists yet another option has disappeared from their already substantially reduced palette. Smooth FM will now think twice before playing such signature tunes such as The Ronettes' 'Baby I Love You', 'Unchained Melody' by The Righteous Brothers and Ike and Tina Turner's 'River Deep, Mountain High'.

These and other standards have gone the same way as 'Leader of the Gang' by Gary Glitter and the Glitter Band.

As our friend, rock and pop critic on the Independent on Sunday, Simon Price said recently: "Phil Spector is now the ultimate "bad man/good art" headfuck for people who don't like things messy, and who like to keep people in neat little boxes.

"With Gary Glitter, people could say 'Well, I always thought he was shit anyway'. (They're wrong, but it's a respectable position to hold.) With Michael Jackson, on the one hand he wasn't convicted (if you choose to stand by his art), and on the other hand he didn't write those classic songs anyway (if you choose to believe he's guilty). But Spector? Everyone loves Phil Spector's music.

"The only way it could have been a worse headfuck would be if Spector turned out to be a paedo murderer. (Shooting a woman dead can at least be made to fit into some sort of misguided 'badass' tradition, if you have the sort of mentality that also thinks Charles Manson is cool, etc.)"

Anyway, some music - lots of music if I'm honest when looking at my collection - needs to be judged apart from the people who make it and Spector is no different.

And there's always a silver lining. Dion please meet Jonathan King, your friend in obscurity forever more.

Click here for our Wall Of Sound playlist.

  1. The Ronettes - 'Be My Baby'
  2. The Jesus and Mary Chain - 'Just Like Honey'
  3. Walker Brothers - 'Walking In The Rain'
  4. Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons - 'Beggin'' Pilooski Re-edit
  5. Johnny Boy - 'You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve'
  6. Juggy - 'Soul At Sunrise'
  7. The Righteous Brothers - 'Little Latin Lupe Lu'
  8. The Shangri-las - 'Heaven Only Knows'
  9. The Magnetic Fields - 'California Girls'
  10. The Beach Boys - 'Do It Again'
  11. Pink Mountaintops - 'Tourist In Your Town'
  12. Ramones - 'Baby I Love You'
  13. Glasvegas - 'Geraldine'
  14. Nilson - 'Everybody's Talking'
  15. Bruce Springsteen - 'Born To Run'
  16. ABC - 'All Of My Heart'
  17. McAlmont and Butler - 'Yes'
  18. The Chiffons - 'Sweet Talking Guy'
  19. Ike & Tina Turner - 'Hold On Baby'
  20. The Crystals - 'Then He Kissed Me'
  21. ELO - 'Livin' Thing'
  22. Manic Street Preachers - 'Everything Must Go'