LP 292: The Valverde Orchestra – ‘In’ Classics (Studio 2 Stereo, 1968)

4 Sep

Side 1
01 Unfinished Symphony
02 Emperor Piano Concerto
03 Hallelujah Chorus Messiah
04 Violin Concerto
05 The Trout

Side 2
06 Overture – The Barber Of Seville
07 The Swan Lake
08 Grand March: Tannhauser
09 Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
10 Toy Symphony

Classics arranged for the young in heart.

The web draws a blank on The Valverde Orchestra. The formula is nothing unique – classical pieces arranged with a modern rhythm section. There are two Schubert pieces – the slowburning Unfinished Symphony and the pretty piano-driven Trout.

The remainder of the LP yields some promising morsels – Emperor Piano Concerto and the faux trip hop Swan Lake with its luxury string grooves while the hypnotic Toy Symphony with cuckoo-clock and bubbly electronic undertones is a fine album closer.

Comments and feedback are welcome.

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LP 291: Derek Griffiths – Heads and Tails (BBC, 1980)

1 Sep

Side 1
01 (a) Heads And Tails (b) Wag-A-Lot (c) Dog-A-Long
02 (a) Ladybird (b) Ants (c) Butterflies
03 Foxtrot Territory
04 (a) Pigs On The Trot (b) Wallowing Good
05 Silence Too Has A Tale To Tell
06 Diving Ducks
07 Clumsy Swan
08 Gulls
09 Dig In Quick

Side 2
10 Life Gets Everywhere
11 (a) Too Hot To Handle (b) Hey Mum!
12 The World Over
13 Run Cheetah Run
14 Coat Of Many Colours
15 (a) Proboscis Monkeys (b) Colobus Monkey
16 Home Is A Hole
17 Get Up And Go

Heads and Tails was the name of a series of animal films for children which was produced by the BBC and broadcast between 1977 and 1979.
Derek Griffiths was responsible for…everything.
Voiceovers.
Singing.
A total one man band – guitars, bass, banjo, keyboards, recorders, saxophones, clarinet, harmonica, percussion.
He had previously worked on Play School, Look and Read and a stunning appearance on Til Death Us Do Part.

The soundtrack album to the Heads and Tails series was released on the BBC label in 1980. I loved this when I was a child and time has not diminished its magic or sense of fun. The heat includes the plaintive Ladybird, the mournful Gulls and the frantic Dig In Quick. Over on side two there’s a nice folk vibe with The World Over and Life Gets Everywhere while closer Get Up And Go concludes the album on a upbeat and positive note – complete with tinny guitar rattle.

Comments and feedback are welcome.

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LP 290: André Brasseur – Tasty (CBS, 1966)

30 Aug

Side 1
01 Holiday
02 A Taste Of Tobacco
03 The Monkey
04 Far-West
05 Studio 17 (Little Joker)
06 The Kid

Side 2
07 Mad Train
08 Atlantide
09 Bill
10 Hold-Up
11 Lonely Beach
12 The Invasion

This LP is André’s first British release on the CBS label..

For moody trippers there’s the solemn death shuffle of The Monkey and Atlantide while Mad Train and Hold-Up uphold the groovy status quo with the latter coming off as almost proto-Popcorn.

Bill starts with a serious church organ sound before the kicks in. The Kid has a beefy guitar on the side with A Taste Of Tobacco reeking of smoky club vibes. The LP concludes with the choppy “uppers choice” swirl of The Invasion.

Tasty is an apt title for this dynamic LP – one which belies its “early” age of 1966.

Comments and feedback are welcome.

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LP 289: Gil Trythall – Country Moog: Switched On Nashville (Festival, 1971)

28 Aug

Side 1
01 Foggy Mountain Breakdown
02 Folsom Prison Blues
03 Last Date
04 Harper Valley P.T.A.
05 Cattle Call
06 Gentle On My Mind

Side 2
07 Wildwood Flower
08 Orange Blossom Special
09 Walking The Floor Over You
10 Little Green Apples
11 Yakety Moog

Back in 1970 Gil Trythall was composer and faculty member at Peabody School of Music. As a native Tennessean, he was a big country music fan and combined this with his electronic expertise to create this unique LP under the supervision of Rick Powell.

After a sped-up and insane Foggy Mountain Breakdown the LP settles down happily with melancholy moogy twangs as Folsom Prison Blues and Last Date boom out of the speakers. Other highlights include Cattle Call – a spooky and almost mournful piece calling to mind rural isolation – and a slowed down Little Green Apples that’s just creepy.

Hillbillies in space…

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LP 288: The Jason Ryder Sound – Music from Hair (Music for Pleasure, 1969)

27 Aug

Side 1
01 Donna
02 Good Morning Starshine
03 I Got Life
04 Aquarius
05 Ain’t Got No
06 Be-In (Hare Krishna)

Side 2

07 Colored Spade
08 Manchester England
09 Hair
10 Walking In Space
11 Initials
12 Air

The MFP Hair LP credited to The Jason Ryder Sound is a strictly Division 4 affair.

Donna is a reasonably bright start with a shade of excessive brass before we get few pedestrian takes of Good Morning Starshine, I Got Life and a meek Aquarius.

The sunshine does come out at the start of side two with a cosmically funky version of Colored Spade and the chilled-out vibes of Initials.
This pair of goodies make the effort worthwhile for Hair completists.

Comments and feedback are welcome.

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LP 287: Elizabeth Parker – The Living Planet: A Portrait of The Earth (BBC, 1984)

25 Aug

Side 1
01 The Living Planet (Theme From The Series)
02 The Building Of The Earth
03 The Frozen World
04 The Northern Forests
05 Jungle
06 Seas Of Grass

Side 2
07 The Baking Deserts
08 The Sky Above
09 Sweet Fresh Water
10 The Margins Of The Land
11 Worlds Apart
12 The Open Ocean
13 New Worlds (Closing Theme From The Series)

Elizabeth Parker of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop composed the music for all 12 episodes of the memorable documentary The Living Planet which originally aired during early 1984.

It’s a sparse yet memorable electronic score with a number of genuinely moving pieces – favourites being The Northern Forests, The Margins Of The Land and The Baking Deserts. The Open Ocean is a sparse and fragile creation that drifts by in a sleepy haze – reminding me of Virginia Astley’s From The Gardens Where We Feel Secure album. The brief opening and closing themes from each episode have been logically chosen to start and finish the LP and work well to give the listening experience a circular structure.

Comments and feedback are welcome.

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LP 286: London Philharmonic Orchestra – Opus One (Philips, 1980)

24 Aug

Side 1
01 Jumpin’ Jack Flash
02 We Can Work It Out
03 I Can See For Miles
04 Blowin’ In The Wind
05 All You Need Is Love

Side 2
06 Good Vibrations
07 The House Of The Rising Sun
08 If I Were A Carpenter 

This record is a true test of the domestic audio system; wide dynamics and frequency range; subtle treble presence and resolution of transient sounds in the music; superb stereo placement and a sense of ‘space’. Such fidelity will ensure Opus One a place in many collections as an example of what audio science can achieve in record quality. Is your Hi-Fi good enough?

Uh-oh, such grand pronouncements do look a little silly 31 years on.

The London Philharmonic mix up eight well known rock and pop tunes in a somewhat ambitious blend of technically-impressive but rather pedestrian orchestration combined with some very earnest and occasionally inventive arrangements. The opening pair of tracks are somewhat dull – a turgid bash at Jumpin’ Jack Flush and a ghastly panpipe slo-mo We Can Work It Out. They come to their rock senses with a decent I Can See For Miles before the St Paul’s Cathedral Choir get their hands on Blowin’ In The Wind – a reasonably sedate version that’s not bad after a few plays.

Over on side two we start with a swirly orchestral take on Good Vibrations complete with violas and bells. The House Of The Rising Sun mixes jazz melancholia with overblown throw-the-kitchen-sink-at-it style theatrics while a mammoth and meandering If I Were A Carpenter finishes us off.

Comments and feedback are welcome.

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