A penny saved is ridiculous.

A penny saved is ridiculous.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Spector of fear

Last night I watched the HBO Original Movie, "Phil Spector", about the famed record producer's arrest for murder in 2003.  Like most people, I can be easily drawn into a well-produced drama based on a real criminal case, and that's exactly what happened here.  I'll probably shortly file a few thoughts on the film. 

Anyway, the movie reminded me that I had already read a decent book about Phil Spector in general and the murder case in particular a few years ago.  It was Mick Brown's "Tearing Down the Wall of Sound: The Rise and Fall of Phil Spector".  I thought readers would find my review of the book (originally posted on Amazon in 2007) interesting, so here it is:

Tearing Down the Wall of Sound is an engaging, informative, and very entertaining reading experience. This is in large part due to the fact that even if one gets a little tired of the endless personal antics of Mr. Spector, the book also functions as a pretty comprehensive examination of the evolution of popular music from the 50's to the present. But to also give the book's subject his due, it's also fascinating to learn exactly what a record producer does and how Mr. Spector, during several specific moments in history, did it better than anyone else.

Alas, the book also makes it pretty clear that the gun tragedy of a few years ago involving Mr. Spector was bound to happen sooner or later, as author Mick Brown recounts literally dozens of incidents of Mr. Spector waving a gun at someone in jest, in a bullying manner, or in jealousy or anger.

But it's the many musical stories and anecdotes that really stand out here. Reading all the behind-the-scenes stuff about The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Sonny and Cher (Sonny got his start taking down sandwich orders for Phil Spector and his technicians!), The Ronettes, The Teddy Bears, etc. is a blast, and also kind of reassuring: we see that, despite talent and often genius, our musical heroes often struggled to produce good work; usually relied on the guidance of a good producer or other technical person; and worried what people thought of them. In other words, we're reminded that those musical heroes, in at least some ways, weren't too different from the rest of us.

Okay, back to 2013.  "Tearing Down the Wall of Sound" is available for $13.99 on Kindle, which would be a bit of an extravagent purchase, I admit.  Good book, though.

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