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The Believer Real Life Rock Top Ten

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May 21, 2012 - 1:53pm -- Alison

(1) Alison Faith Levy, “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” from World of Wonder (Mystery Lawn Music). On an album of children’s songs, this glorious recording—with startling new verses pitting a mouse against a cat, a monkey against a tiger, a hippo against a snake, and the spider against a bumblebee—comes forth huge, pounding, with a passionate vocal from Levy and, from producer Allen Clapp, the most convincing re-creation of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound anywhere. Precisely, it’s “Itsy Bitsy Spider” as the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” the feeling bigger with each chorus, and each chorus more ambitious, more deliriously affirming Levy’s animal-kingdom moral fables.

But Spector, now serving nineteen-to-life for second-degree murder in the 2003 shooting death of the failed actress and House of Blues hostess Lana Clarkson, remains as much an author as Levy. Released in 2009, Vikram Jayanti’s trial documentary, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Phil Spector, can leave you almost certain that Spector did not kill Clarkson (after watching his attorneys present forensic evidence at his first trial, which hung the jury, you can imagine Spector bringing out a gun, showing it off, listening to Clarkson talk about how worthless her life had turned out to be, and then handing it to her: “Go ahead and kill yourself, I don’t care”). On February 21 the Supreme Court refused to review the case; as Spector waits out his time, I hope this puts a smile on his face.

Greil Marcus
Publish Date: 
Thursday, May 10, 2012