Collecting Phil Spector – the Book

When I got seriously into the Wall of Sound in the early 00s I quickly felt the need for a good overview of Spector’s recorded output. 

How much had been left off the Back to Mono box that was my rite of passage into all things Spector? What were the stories behind all of these productions? Some, like the Modern Folk Quartet or the Alley Cats seemed to be one-offs? And what, if anything, had Spector committed to tape after his Philles heyday?
backtomono

Remember, this was in the early years of the internet. There wasn’t a great deal of info online and as a fresh-faced, nascent Wall of sound fan in my early 20s I was looking for answers. They came in the form of a curious book called ‘Collecting Phil Spector – The Man, the Legend and the Music’ which I was delighted to find via a search through the national library system in my country.

To this day, I suspect there’s only one copy available through the library here – the one that I was able to bring home and study like it was Holy Scripture. I kept renewing my loan on this book for several months. This is where I first read about the over-looked productions of the 70s. It was also the book that really whetted my appetite for hunting down various Spector soundalikes. There’s a whole discography in it devoted to these soundalike records, old and new – even meticulously divided into sections like ‘Righteous Brothers soundalikes’ or ‘Spector Soundalikes 1980s’. It’s a wet dream for every fan of the Wall of Sound that finds the official Spector output too limited to satisfy his craving for bombast.

Front cover of the Collecting Phil Spector book, Spectacle Press 1991
Front cover of the Collecting Phil Spector book, Spectacle Press 1991
Since then I’ve read almost every book on Spector and his music with Mick Brown’s seminal tome ‘Tearing Down the Wall of Sound’ being my favorite, followed closely by Rob Finnis’ ‘the Phil Spector Story’ and Mark Ribowsky’s more trashy but very entertaining ‘He’s a Rebel.’ And would you believe there are more than these solely focused on Spector along with auto-biographies by Ronnie Spector, Darlene Love, Sonny Bono, Hal Blaine, Cher etc?

Ronnie's book. This must be the best subtitle for a Spector-themed book yet, - hands down!
Ronnie’s book. This must be the best subtitle for a Spector-themed book yet, – hands down!
The Spector-related book shelf is actually pretty crowded with lots of entertaining, highly informative reads. But ‘Collecting Phil Spector’ somewhat holds a special place for me with its earnest fan-boy focus on the music. There is a bit of info about Spector’s personal life but it’s very basic and the authors point out in the foreword that their book isn’t meant as a biography but a walk-through of the music.

I’ve tried unsuccessfully to locate the authors Jack Fitzpatrick and Jim Fogerty via Facebook but to no avail. It’s a shame because I’d love to hear more about their book’s origin. It’s clearly a labor of love written by two über-fans – and they are readily described as such on the dust cover. But why did they undertake such a project in 1991? At a time when Spector had been lying low for more than a decade?

Well, the Back to Mono box came out the very same year as the book so maybe the book was somehow tied into this project? It seems though that the book came out first since the box isn’t listed in the book’s Spector discography. Rhino Records allegedly worked on a project along the lines of the Back to Mono box with Spector before he changed horses in the middle of the stream and gave the project to ABCKO to finish. So there may be a connection there?

No matter what, ‘Collecting Phil Spector’ is an interesting read even today. More of a catalog with short essays rather than a book maybe but you can definitely feel the enthusiasm and love for the music throughout. I don’t know how limited the print run was but I suspect it was kept rather low for a vanity project like this.

In the book you'll find nice colour inlays like this collage of Spector-related collectibles.
In the book you’ll find nice colour inlays like this collage of Spector-related collectibles.
About 8 years ago I was lucky enough to find a reasonably prized copy on Ebay – usually they go for much higher prizes the few times they pop up online. If you happen to see one at a fair prize, grab it! It’s a well-worth investment for any serious Spector / Wall of Sound fan, – even just as a sort of historical source like those old Phil Spector Appreciation Society newsletters and Philately fanzines I’ve previously written about here:

https://cuecastanets.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/the-phil-spector-appreciation-society/

Jack & Jim! If you’re still out there,… if you happen to see this I’d love to know more about your work on the book. And a sincere thank you for giving me a great crash-course in the Wall of Sound all those years ago!

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10 thoughts on “Collecting Phil Spector – the Book”

  1. I was thankfully one of the fortunate ones to have bought that book when it originally came out. The dust cover is quite tattered now and did I ever get my use out of it. The discography is just unbelievable.
    Years later thinking of replacing my worn copy with a lightly used one proved to be very enlightening. A gently used copy on eBay had an outlandishly opening bid of over $200.00 which made my eyes roll back into my head. I guess my used and lovingly worn copy will have to suffice. I agree wholeheartedly that any serious Spector collecting freak MUST have this book in their possession.
    Anthony Reichardt
    Santa Ana, California

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  2. ‘Collecting Phil Spector’ is definitely a must have in any Phil Spector collection. But I was honestly disappointed in the biographical material included. I honestly expected a more discographical book like Brad Elliott’s Surf’s Up: The Beach Boys on Record.

    If I want biography, nothing surpasses Richard Williams “Out of His Head” because he is honest on the subject as it was written in the 70s before Spector’s current problems.

    Instead of biography material on Spector, in ‘Collecting Phil Spector’ a more complete discography with black and white pictures of covers would have been better, instead of the one line entries provided in most cases. In the Beach Boys book, it is a discography and any release having a version/mix of a song not previously issued is annotated.

    I think that approach would have been better considering the title.

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    1. That’s an interesting perspective Paul. Personally, I didn’t enjoy the Williams book as much as the ones by Mick Brown or Rob Finnis. Do you prefer the one by Williams over Brown’s because the latter also focuses a great deal on Spector’s eccentricities and the Clarkson case? For me, I find it the most comprehensive and it of course also benefits from the earlier books to draw upon…

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  3. I JUST SIGNED ONTO YOUR SIGHT.
    YEA I AM THE GUY JACK FITZPATRICK WHO WROTE THE BOOK.
    I NOTICED DOMENIC PRIORE. I LOVE YOUR STUFF.
    I GOT 2 COPIES OF THE SMILE BOOK AND GAVE 1 TO MY BRO.
    I LOVE SPECTOR, MOTOWN AND BRIAN WILSON.
    PLEASE WRITE. JACK

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  4. In regards to the book ‘Collecting Phil Spector’ … as a Canadian and having collected just about every Spector Canadian 45 rpm record in mint unplayed condition issued – the Canadian discography is very incomplete. The book was published in 1991 and much more is known about the records now. Even now when collecting records you never really know *everything* that was pressed and I am always surprised when new records turn up that you never knew existed.

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  5. I don’t know much about Canadian pressings (I’m hoping someday to find 119, 123 and X-125, all Darlene Love, some chance!), but I do have copies of “Home Of The Brave” on Canadian Phi-Dan and “So Young” on Canadian Phil Spector…

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    1. Tim, Do you have the Canadian 45 ‘Why Don’t They Let Us Fall In Love’/’Chubby Danny D’ on Phil Spector (PHIL. 2)? Yes, those Darlene Love 45s are hard to find. There were probably 10 times as many of those records pressed in the US than Canada. Trying to find all these records in M- condition can be a difficult. Have you ever been on 45cat? I’ve uploaded a bit on there. The best resource on the internet for 45s. I found an M- copy of “So Young” a few years ago also.

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      1. Alan, No I don’t have Canadian “Why Don’t They Let Us Fall In Love”, nor have I seen one, or even a picture. I believe that 111 was the first released on Canadian Philles (I know earlier numbers were released on other Canadian labels), and I would suspect most subsequent releases had Canadian equivalents (I’ve looked on 45cat). Personally, I would be surprised if 134, 135 and 136 came out in Canada, I would guess that neither 123 Darlene nor either of the X-125s did, and I’m equivocal about 119 Darlene, not least because Little Boy in Canada seems to be 119 not 119X. And I concur that sometimes you come across things you never thought existed. (BTW, I don’t know if you’re interested in PS productions on other labels, but I have both Bobby Sheen and Troy Shondell on Canadian Liberty).

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