Phil Spector: Back to Mono

Back To Mono? Yes, please!

The mad genius of Rock `n Roll, Phil Spector has created some of the most memorable, superbly produced recordings of the genre. He was the producer entrusted with completing the album “Let It Be” after The Beatles fell apart. He was the producer entrusted by Yoko Ono to complete Lennon’s final album after his tragic shooting. His work was influential for the man who made The Beachboys who they were, Brian Wilson. Known for his habit of rehearsing his girl groups for four or five hours until their voices had the right husky sound and then cutting the track he turned record production into an art.

This boxed set contains three CD’s packed full of great tracks, from the first track he recorded “To Know Him Is To Love Him” (apparently dedicated to Spector’s father) to later classics such as the lush and incredibly layered Ike & Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High” there are any number of tracks that must be heard.

Disc 1 is mostly tracks that show the development of Spector’s “Wall Of Sound” while he was mainly producing for a mix of bands and labels before he started Philles records and while A & R head at Atlantic developed his own stable of groups (the `les’ in Philles was his sound engineer).

Disc 2 is full of classic Phil Spector tracks, chock full of titles recorded by The Crystals, The Ronettes and Darlene Love. “Be My Baby” and “Then He Kissed Me”, the first two tracks are perhaps the “Wall Of Sound” at it’s clearest. One of Spector’s trademarks was the way he would use whichever vocalists were at the studio and suited the sound of the track so the line up changes on these tracks can be huge. The third disc starts with “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'”, the track that redefined The Righteous Brothers and pushed along their career, and continues with more of the same glorious Phil Spector sound.

The fourth CD is “A Christmas Gift For You”, Spector’s Christmas album – a very mixed bunch of carols from a number of his groups. Quality drops a little on this album – some of the tracks are gems, others not up to his usual standard.

The boxed set also contains a “Back To Mono” badge – Spector wears one and it is the badge that gives the boxed set it’s name and a superb book with notes on every track and some marvellous articles about Spector and his sound.

I doubt a week goes by without me playing at least one of the first three CD’s and the fourth gets played a few times every Christmas.

No collection of popular music would be complete without this set.

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