Wall of Sound, Bars of Steel

With the Ronettes, the Righteous Brothers, and the Ramones, producer Phil Spector swathed dozens of hit singles in a layered sheen. His signature Wall of Sound, a lush, full style that made other early-'60s records sound thin and pallid, was brilliantly suited to monaural AM radio. As rock 'n' roll evolved, however, his wasn't always the best approach; to pick one painful example, his overblown strings exacerbate the bathos of “The Long and Winding Road” on the Beatles' otherwise enjoyable Let It Be. You may not know Spector as a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, but as the crazy bastard presently doing 19 to life for the shooting death of a woman at his L.A. mansion in 2003. Vikram Jayanti's The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector delivers ample insights for true-crime and pop music fans alike, anchored by a rare and revelatory interview with Mad Phil himself, conducted during his first trial (which ended in a hung jury). The filmmaker will field questions at the opening-night shows, and here's a chart-topper: What makes wealthy, famous men think they can get away with murder?
Sept. 10-30, 2010

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