In the '50s and '60s, the Brill Building, an office building located on Broadway in New York City, was the unofficial capitol of the American pop music industry; the building was home to a number of record companies and publishing firms, and many of the leading songwriters and producers of the day did business there, as pop hits were produced on a veritable assembly line: writers came up with new tunes, arrangers figured out how to make them sound best on record, and producers recruited the singers and session musicians who would put the magic into grooves that would spin in jukeboxes, radio stations, and portable phonographs around the country. This Magic Moment: The Sound of the Brill Building is a two-disc set that collects 64 songs from the days when the Brill Building was the center of the teen pop universe, featuring hits by Dion, Del Shannon, the Shirelles, Gene Pitney, Ben E. King, the Crystals, Little Eva, Jay & the Americans, Connie Francis, and many more. The set also includes a few stars-to-be, including early sides by Tony Orlando, Carole King, and Neil Sedaka, and a couple cuts from Barry Mann, who would fare better as a songwriter in collaboration with Cynthia Weil. The music on this set is polished radio-friendly pop, but from an age when songwriters sought to make records that spoke eye-to-eye with teenagers rather than down to them, and the craft of the songwriting, performances, and production is impeccable no matter how slick the surfaces may be. One could compile a hefty box set out of the glory days of the Brill Building, and licensing issues are presumably the reason Phil Spector and Shadow Morton's classic productions are not better represented on this collection, but This Magic Moment still manages to evoke the era with skill and demonstrates just how much great music poured out of one building in New York City; fans of '60s pop and rock will find lots to like on these two discs.
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