Before 2004, Phil Spector was pop music's crazed genius, a prodigy who produced several of popular music's greatest recordings. He later became a recluse with a legend built on outlandish tales of bizarre behavior. All of that was washed away with the gunshot death of actress Lana Clarkson at Spector's California mansion and the ensuing trial, which has yet to be resolved.
Author Mick Brown takes the high road in what could have been nothing more than a tabloid-esque account of Spector's madness. Instead of judging, Brown simply digs deep to try to figure out who Phil Spector is. There is a distinct balance to Tearing Down the Wall of Sound. Half displays the bizarre, often cruel Spector, while the other half portrays the funny, talented kid who helped shape the face of modern music. In the music industry, talent goes along way towards rectifying any behavior issues. Spector had loads of talent.
Every hit record allowed for that much more misbehavior. Brown works hard to separate the myths from the truths and does an admirable job. Spector himself spent his life perpetuating his own myth, taking credit for songs he was not involved with and claiming feats of prowess beyond his physical means. However, there is no denying how immense his work in popular music is or how enduring his songs have become. They are his songs, by the way Ė didnít matter who was singing them.
Brown takes care to not pander to tabloid hype, but there are a few too many direct quotes where people say how strange and tyrannical Spector was to those around him. After 100 pages, we get that he was loony - we donít need to be told again. That is one small gripe about an otherwise well-written, well-researched book. Tearing Down the Wall of Sound may not spur readers to go back to all of Spector's greatest hits; his behavior is enough of a turn-off to end that. It doesnít matter though: his songs are ingrained into our culture. There is no escaping that, regardless of how it all ends for Spector.