Phil Spector

Wallpaper of Sound: The Songs of Phil Spector and the Brill Building

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Because discussions of Phil Spector's musical legacy inevitably skew toward his groundbreaking Wall of Sound production aesthetics, the songs that are the foundation of that Wall tend to get lost in the shuffle -- it's a simple notion, but if Spector's raw materials had been anything but brilliant on their own terms, no measure of studio innovation could have launched them to the top of the charts. Wallpaper of Sound: The Songs of Phil Spector and the Brill Building suggests an alternate universe where Spector had never stepped into the production studio at all and instead plied his craft as a songwriter alongside the likes of Carole King, Doc Pomus, and Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil -- the disc's 27 songs are covers of Spector's biggest hits, and it's fascinating to hear how they work minus the sonic majesty of their definitive chart versions. There's nothing here that surpasses the familiar renditions, but nor is there anything that's a travesty -- the more obscure tracks fare best of all, highlighted by the Migil 5's "First Taste of Love," P.P. Arnold's "Born to Be Together," and Peanut's "Home of the Brave."

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