Phil Spector was a sick, crazy, deranged genius. If you don't know some of the stories of gun violence in the recording studio or his house, than please familiar yourself with them. My intention here is not to judge or give a biography of the artist, I am only interested in the recording itself. This is a 3 disc box set of some of the best of his career. I would like to point out that listening to this material in this format has made me aware of some recurring themes that run through Phil's work. Themes of weak, submissive woman that put their significant others up on pedestals. Further themes of young love and getting married at very young ages. Makes you wonder if Phil might be responsible in some small way for the raise of divorce rates among that age group and the prevailing belief in waiting until your late 20s or even early 30s to settle down. There is one song here "He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss)" that gives me chills. When I first heard it, I couldn't believe wait I was hearing. There is no doubt that you can get a good look at the inner workings of Phil's mind by listening to these tracks.
These themes though, are not why this album is on the list, or why Phil Spector is a household name (no small feat for a record producer). When listening to this you really need to stop listening to the songs superficially and really dig into the production. For those not familiar with how to do this, start by listening to the different instrumentation and the percussion choices and then listen to the effects (reverb, echo etc.) that are put on those instruments. Next you need to understand a little bit about how music is recorded and played back. These are mono recordings so there is only 1 channel for the sound to be reproduced through. A speaker can only move in 2 directions. It vibrates, in and out, at specific frequencies to reproduce sound. When you think about that, it is astounding the range of sound that can come out of that speaker. But, it has limitations. It can only reproduce one sound from the same frequency at a time. a frequency is basically how high or low in pitch a sound is. If you have 2 instruments making this same pitch at the same time, the louder one will one and the other one will be 'masked' and not heard at all. Sound engineers try to get around this problem by adjusting the eq for one of the instruments. In a stereo recording they can just pan the instruments over to different speakers hence giving you twice the room for sound. Now, here is where Phil's genius comes through. Phil could fit more into a mono recording than many people could fit into a stereo recording. With all that is crammed in there, the sound can still breathe. It never 'sounds' crammed, but at the same time, doesn't sound like there is any room left over either. Hence, the 'wall of sound'
If you start to listen to music in this way, you will start to hear these techniques all over the place. Phil has definitely left his mark on the industry. You almost can not avoid using Phil's techniques when recording, they are that important and relevant.
Aside from all of that technical stuff, there are some really great recordings on here. Music that shaped a generation. You might even make an argument that without Phil's girl groups here, there may not have been a Backstreet Boys or Spice Girls. You might say, well that might not be the worst thing either, but there it is nonetheless. Also where would we be without his swan song from the Righteous Brothers, "You've Lost that Lovin' Feelin'."