Damien on… Phil Spector – King Of Mono
(Thanks to the NRA) Phil Spector will probably be in JAIL until he is EIGHTY-EIGHT. And the journey that lead him there is a California Story to beat them all.
He first hit fame with his Great Wall Of Sound. This featured over-dub upon over-dub, the whole fed through both electronic and acoustic echo-chambers. Detractors called it “schlock rock” – which, Spector being Jewish, was a racist taunt.
Despite this, his epics hit the charts on both sides of the pond – but not necessarily in unison. “River Deep-Mountain High” went top five in the UK – but did little, Stateside. This was the beginning of Phil’s problems, as he considered it the best thing he had ever done.
Credited to “Ike & Tina Turner” – Ike was not even ON it. But this was typical. ALL of Phil’s records were created by HIM – the vocalists’ names were just for the labels.
Like, half of the Crystals’ hits were actually recorded by Darlene Love and the Blossoms.
Anyhoo – the thing about Phil’s Sixties output was it was only ever intended to be heard in MONO.
This was because the “layer-cake” approach of building them up got torn apart, if they were subjected to a stereo mix. And for twenty years, they REMAINED in mono.
But, with the Sixties over, Phil was courted first by John Lennon (contrary to logic, Paul McCartney was FURIOUS when Phil added strings to the “Let It Be” album-tracks) then others.
However, these new successes were short-lived. In 1974, Phil was almost killed in a car crash.
This development sent a man already known for erratic and often violent behaviour completely over the edge. His head badly scarred from the accident, he began wearing absurd wigs. Then he produced a punk band called the Ramones. And finally, he became a recluse.
Stories about him waving guns at anyone who displeased him were rife. Then the money ran out.
At this point, he was forced to sell the rights to his Sixties catalogue. The deal included the original tapes, which had been recorded in THREE-track.
Understandably, it now being the early Eighties, the new owners of the material had them remixed for STEREO. Phil was FURIOUS – but could do nothing.
Eventually, he managed to buy back the rights, but the damage had been done. Despite now only re-releasing his early material in mono again (including the 1963 classic Christmas Album, with the original cover art) people had already heard his genius RIPPED TO PIECES.
I myself possess mint STEREO copies of the Christmas Album and a number of the Sixties singles – but am all-too-aware they just don’t sound RIGHT.
And thus it is that I have put together four of those Sixties hits in a high-dynamic MONO mix, for Dailymotion.
It’s a video site – not a constipation medicine – so if you have a sound system connected to your computer, ramp it up to ELEVEN and click on..