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Various Artists: The Essential Phil Spector 

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Ever since a 17-year-old Spector produced his own composition, "To Know Him Is To Love Him," for the Teddy Bears in 1958, record production has never been the same. The song debuted at number one and Spector instantly became the most sought-after producer in pop. Spector's famous "wall of sound" was nothing but an obsessive creator at work, adding choruses to the choruses, keys to the keys, strings to the strings, in take after take. Only when he felt the product was perfect, would the track be released. This 34-song collection is arranged chronologically (1958-1969) and revisits Spector's peak as a hit maker. If this is not enough Spector for you, then get the 87-track Phil Spector Presents the Philles Albums Collection, a 7-CD box that includes all six 1962-64 albums from the Philles label, which until now had never been released in its entirety on CD. It includes music by the Ronettes, Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, five albums by the Crystals, the compilation Today's Hits and a separate CD of B-sides. But the two-CD Essential collection is enough to prove, once again, that "hit" is not the same as "shit."

★★★★★ (out of 5 stars)

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