Phil Spector the oh so slightly unhinged producer is credited with pioneering the wall of sound approach to making music, which is where this collection gets its name from. That basically means that Spector threw as much as possible into the mix. Thundering percussion, strings with more layers than an armadillo on a firing range, harmonies so glutinous they would put a class of five year old off sweets for weeks, and Spector was never a believer of less is more. Indeed it's fair to say he was a believer of more is more then some more should be chucked on top in case the original more wasn't enough.
However this is no easy thing to do and make it sound as wondrous a much of the material on here does. It could be a dicophonous disaster but Spector knew what he was doing and what's more he had the songs and the artists to pull it off. This is pop music so gaudily effervescent, so giddily emphatic that it makes even the lushest of contemporary music -Girls Aloud at their capricious best say- sound like Bonnie Prince Billy. Next to Spectors corpulent beauties virtually everything else is reduced to a size zero non-entity.
T o hear The Ronettes peerlessly perform "Baby I Love You" or "Be My Baby" is to hear pop at its zenith -so melodious and sonically impelling that you could be stood in the middle of a minefield, foot hovering over potential oblivion, and still become caught up in the song. The same goes for The Crystals "Then He Kissed Me" while "River Deep, Mountain High" is one of the most staggering moments of halcyon pop ...well ever. Tina Turner may have gone on to be a lumbering embarrassment but here she is incendiary. I love "You've Lost That Lovin Feeling" as well which is ironic because the other Righteous Brothers track here is the now hideously over-exposed "Unchained Melody" which has been reduced via karaoke ciphers to something I have lost that lovin feeling for.
The second CD is re-issue of the 1963 Christmas album which for many people is the definitive Christmas album and they are right, because for two weeks out of fifty two this is the most evocative festive celebration on the planet. This album along with "The Fairytale Of New York " , "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" and "Snow" by the Cocteau Twins is the spirit and magic of the consumer madness that Christmas has become aurally restored to something approximating it's original spirit.
Curiously the previously un- released song here, "Silent Night" is sung by Spector with only an acoustic guitar as backing. Proof that even this flawed genius needed to drop that wall of sound every once in a while.