The Agony and the Ecstasy…

As I’ve mentioned before, I am utterly fascinated with Phil Spector. For the uninitiated, he is the genius behind the ‘Wall of Sound,’ who produced countless ’60s hits like Be My Baby, and He Hit Me (and it Felt Like a Kiss) and later, more timeless songs like Imagine by John Lennon. Don’t get this twisted – as someone at the cinema where I saw this documentary seemed to when I asked for the poster- there is absolutely no physical interest. (Have you seen what this guy looks like and looked like?)

No, this fascination is not like my adoration for Bono or George Harrison. This one is purely intellectual. There is something about his work that just hypnotizes me. Despite his outlandish ways, despite the fact that he is currently in jail, having been accused of murder (I think he’s innocent), nobody can deny his brilliance. Nobody. Maybe you’ll need to see The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector to understand.

I was afraid that this film would be too heavy on the courtroom footage, but it was very well edited. Legal proceedings were well tempered with old footage of musical performances, home recordings and other interviews. And I have to say, the courtroom footage wasn’t as dull as I would have thought. Mostly because its basely comical to see Spector shake uncontrollably, nod off, and glare at those testifying against him.

But the best parts are during his one-on-one interview with Vikram Jayanti. He repeatedly lambastes Tony Bennett (I’d love to know how that tetchy association began), alludes to his hair as somehow real, and makes bold claims about his importance. Basically he is hilarious and cantankerous in that enviable way that most old people get to be.

Another of Phil’s musical gems that this doc gave me a newfound appreciation for is You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling by The Righteous Brothers. It might be kind of corny, until you can get past the aesthetics, and really focus on the words and the tone.

(If I were a teen in 1964, I think I would have had a wild crush on Bill Medley.)


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