Phil Spector has a lot to answer for. He made it possible for music-obsessed men lacking a voice, looks or pop-star panache to top the charts. If Xenomania's efforts with Girls Aloud drive you crazy, or you quiver at the memory of Kylie's Stock Aitken and Waterman hit I Should Be So Lucky, Spector is the man to blame. This 22-track Wall of Sound Retrospective, a twin release with Spector's sugar-coated Christmas album, shows why: no song was too trivial for him, no lyric too inane to be transformed into a luscious mini-symphony. There is such giddiness about this music, such euphoria in its firework displays of strings and harmonies and emphatic percussion, that it's easy to feel overwhelmed: you can almost hear Spector defying listeners not to well up at the marriage proposal in the Crystals' Then He Kissed Me, or during the Ronettes' heartfelt Baby I Love You. The CD ends with an intriguing curio: a demo of Spector himself singing Spanish Harlem, accompanied by an acoustic guitar. The recording has a trembly beauty - but it would never have made him number one.
CD: Various artists, The Phil Spector Collection
(ABK, two CDs)