It’s a popular misconception how rock ’n’ roll went dormant in the early ‘60s until The Beatles. With Jerry Lee Lewis ostracized, Elvis in the army, Little Richard in the ministry, Chuck Berry in jail and Buddy Holly dead, it’s easy to think that. Let’s lay that overly simplified revisionist history to bed once and for all, shall we?

Not only were the songwriters of The Brill Building in Manhattan cranking out timeless classics (go look it up) but a 21-year-old genius producer/arranger/composer named Phil Spector was creating pop masterpieces utilizing musicians and vocalists as one would utilize the pieces on a chess board. Sure, in the time since, a producer is there to clarify and bring to the fore an artist’s vision. In this case, the artists involved brought to the fore the producer’s vision.

And what a vision it was! Fifty years after the first of hit after hit, these songs still resonate with vitality and do not sound dated. That’s the essence of being timeless. Spector stuffed his creations with strings, echo, bells, voices… the works. The wall. In ‘61, ‘62 and ‘63, practically every song released on Philles Records became a national hit. They were soulful, melodic, instantly memorable and today, even the rare miss like “He Hit Me (It Felt Like A Kiss),” is fascinating.

In A Word: Must-Buy

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