December 1964-February 1965: Phil Spector's 'Wall of Sound'

On December 5, 1964, The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," written by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Phil Spector and produced by Spector, first appears on the Billboard music charts at No. 124. It would spend two weeks at No. 1 in February 1965. (In 1999, BMI listed the song as the one most often played on American radio and television in the 20th century, with some 8 million plays.)

     The term "Wall of Sound" became associated with this song in particular and Spector's dense, layered production in general. Time magazine described it in the February 19, 1965 issue, before the term "Wall of Sound" took hold: "Spector Sound, as it's called in the industry, is marked by a throbbing, sledgehammer beat, intensified by multiplying the usual number of rhythm instruments and boosting the volume. Spectral orchestration, undulating with shimmering climaxes, is far more polished, varied and broadly rooted than the general run of rock 'n' roll. In Lovin' Feelin', Spector used two basses, three electric guitars, three pianos, a harpsichord, twelve violins, a ten-voice chorus and four brawny percussionists. His vocalists, a pair of 23-year-old white Californians who call themselves the Righteous Brothers, imitate the Negro gospel wail, a sound that Spector prizes as the 'soulful yearning that every teen-ager understands.' "

     The term itself was not new, having been used in the 19th century to describe Richard Wagner's Bayreuth Festspielhaus opera house and in the 1950s to describe Stan Kenton's jazz band.  According to the book "He's a Rebel" (linked below), it became shorthand for Spector's production style after Andrew Loog Oldham, manager and producer of The Rolling Stones, took out advertisements in British music magazines praising "Lovin' Feelin'." (The article above, by Derek Johnson for the New Musical Express issue of July 31, 1964, shows the term used to describe another Spector record.)

* "Bill Medley on Phil Spector" (JazzWax, 2012): @
* Article from The Pop History Dig: @
* Earlier post on "Blue-eyed soul": @
* "The First Tycoon of Teen" (Tom Wolfe, January 1965): @
* "The Sound Flowed Out of Old Music Streams" (Life magazine, May 21, 1965): @
* "He's a Rebel: Phil Spector, Rock and Roll's Legendary Producer" (Mark Ribowsky, 1989): @
* "Sonic Alchemy: Visionary Music Producers and Their Maverick Recordings" (David N. Howard, 2004): @
* "The Producer as Composer: Shaping the Sounds of Popular Music" (Virgil Moorefield, 2005): @
* "Tearing Down The Wall of Sound: The Rise and Fall of Phil Spector" (Mick Brown, 2007): @
* "Rolling Stoned" (Andrew Loog Oldham, 2011): @
* "Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop" (Bob Stanley, 2013): @ 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog archive


Follow: @