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Tearing Down the Wall of Sound: The Rise and…

Tearing Down the Wall of Sound: The Rise and Fall of Phil Spector

by Mick Brown

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Loved this! The author is Mick Brown.
Mick Brown had written a scathing article on Spector portraying him as crazy. Phil read this article the next day and was infuriated, breaking a year long sobriety streak and getting loaded. Within 24 hours Lana Clarkson was dead.
A must read for anyone who followed the Spector trial or WILL follow the re-trial in the Fall of 2008. ( )
  karalawyer | Mar 13, 2013 |
When I first heard that Phil Spector had been accused of murder, I didn't believe it. Even when he was eventually convicted, I still couldn't accept the idea that the man responsible for records such as Be My Baby, You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling, and River Deep, Mountain High might be responsible for a crime like that. But I didn't really know anything about Spector beyond his music, and you can't judge a person solely by their artistic accomplishments. I should have learnt that by now.

Having read Tearing Down The Wall Of Sound: The Rise & Fall Of Phil Spector, I realised just how naive I'd been. Mick Brown's book is all about proving that our heroes and idols aren't necessarily nice people, they have feet of clay and hearts of darkness. Why should we expect them to be better than us, when chances are they're even more fucked up?

Read the full review at my blog. ( )
  rolhirst | May 6, 2009 |
Thoroughly researched account of Spector’s life, based on over 100 interviews with his friends and acquaintances, and an extensive interview with Spector weeks prior to the death of Lana Clarkson in his mansion. Balanced portrayal of his genius at rock and roll production and manipulation of people, and his dark, potentially violent temper founded on low self-esteem. Heavy profanity, some sexual situations, drug use, description of a murder scene and coroner’s report.
  chosler | Jan 13, 2009 |
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally here.)

You would think that a person could do no wrong by penning a biography of infamous record producer and gun-brandishing recluse Phil Spector -- after all, the man either wrote or engineered a huge amount of what we now consider the "classic rock" hits of the 1950s and '60s; then near the end of his practical career produced such one-off masterpieces as the Beatles' Let It Be and the first Ramones album; then apparently went batsh-t crazy starting in the '80s, eventually facing murder charges last year over the mysterious death of a starlet at one of his notorious private parties. But as evidenced in the much-hyped yet ultimately disappointing Tearing Down the Wall of Sound by Mick Brown, it turns out that tales about someone fiddling with studio knobs for days on end simply don't make for very compelling literature, even if they do end with the person becoming a batsh-t crazy gun-brandishing recluse.

In fact, if anything can be called most fascinating about the roots of the rock industry, the period when Spector had his greatest successes, it's of how much the entire thing used to be like any other corporate office back in the day; and by "corporate office," I mean literal skyscrapers in Manhattan full of nice young suit-wearing jazz-loving Jews, sitting around desks in cubicles all day writing songs, while yet other executives handled all the administrative work of matching those songs up with specific musicians, specific studio engineers and specific labels. So yes, in other words, the beginning history of rock 'n roll is a real snooze -- a time when singing and songwriting were two distinctly different jobs, when artists were treated no better than hired help, when the industry was literally like a factory, churning out hits for white teens by poor black musicians like other factories churned out toothbrushes.

The only way to get ahead in such an environment, then, was to become an executive and intellectual-property owner yourself; and that's what the vast majority of this book is about, is simply the masterful way Spector was able to play the weasely game of office politics back then, was able to superficially suck up to the exact right people who could help him the most at the exact right moments, the way he was able to sociopathically cut these people out of his life again when they had nothing else to offer. And frankly, unless you actually lived through these times, unless you're already familiar with Spector's hits and have always been curious about what was happening behind the scenes at the time, most people will simply not find this an engaging read; damnit, I picked up this book to read about a crazy rock idol, not a minor character from "Dilbert!" This is no fault of Brown himself, a seasoned journalist who turns in a fine account of the subject at hand yet again; no, it's the subject itself, which by its definition is heavy on unfair business contracts and scheming middle-managers, light on drug-abuse tales and trashed hotel rooms. It's a great book for seeing how the sausage was made in the 1950s and '60s music industry; but unless you're already a fan of that sausage, I recommend skipping the book altogether.

Out of 10: 7.4, or 8.4 for fans of classic rock ( )
  jasonpettus | Dec 9, 2008 |
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"In December 2002 Phil Spector - legendary record producer, legendary control freak, legendary recluse - sat down on a sofa in his Los Angeles castle and gave his first major interview for twenty-five years. The journalist he talked to was Mick Brown. Shortly afterwards, Phil Spector was arrested for murder." "Over the course of that day, Spector spoke with extraordinary candour about his life and career; his mercurial rise to become the most successful record producer of the sixties; the genius that had been both a blessing and a curse; his creation of a sound never before heard in music, his trademark 'Wall of Sound'; his fragile mental state and his years on the brink of insanity. 'I've been a very tortured soul,' said Spector. 'I have not been happy. I have devils inside that fight me.'"."The interview with Spector (described by MOJO as 'one of the most famous interviews in rock journalism') appeared as a cover story in the Daily Telegraph magazine on 1 February 2003. Twenty-four hours later, a Hollywood actress named Lana Clarkson was shot dead in Spector's castle. Phil Spector was immediately arrested, and later released on $1 million bail to await trial." "Tearing Down the Wall of Sound is Mick Brown's personal odyssey into the strange life and times of Phil Spector. Beginning with that fateful meeting in Spector's home, and recounting the story of his colourful life and career, including the unfolding of the Clarkson case, this is one of the most bizarre and compelling stories in the annals of pop music."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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