This is a staggeringly different piece of music for those who only know the Ray Manzarek of "Light My Fire" or "L.A. Woman" fame. The 1983 collaboration with Philip Glass and Kurt Munkacsi holds many revelations. As the post-Morrison Doors splintered off into various side projects, Manzarek's notable The Golden Scarab and The Whole Thing Started With Rock & Roll Now It's Out of Control to the Krieger/Densmore schizophrenic unit known as the Butts Band, as well as guitarist Krieger's jazz-flavored solo discs, the journeymen musicians opened windows beyond the music of the Doors. Carmina Burana's power emerges from the fusion of musical forms, heralded by Manzarek's sincere approach to the project. The liner notes give an explanation of German composer Carl Orff's rediscovery in 1935 of the Medieval poems found in 1803 from 13th century "renegade monks and wandering poets." The modern-day minstrels that Manzarek and Glass are add a contemporary twist to the music Allen Lannon helped bring to America in 1954, when it was first performed on these shores in Boston. There are seven primary musicians who back the chorus, which features ten principal singers conducted by Michael Riesman. The music is intense, evocative, and highly spiritual, with Larry Anderson's drums adding something the rebels from hundreds of years ago would probably be proud of. A four-page pink booklet with Latin and English translations comes with the vinyl LP, and it's all wrapped up in an old-world-meets-new-world setting, including illustration by Hieronymus Bosch, his work previously showing up in rock & roll on Deep Purple's self-titled Tetragrammaton release, itself a pretty heady production. Ray Manzarek's Carmina Burana went out of print after its 1983 vinyl release on A&M, and the artist expressed hope in a January 2002 interview that the music would be re-released on CD. It's too good to remain in the shadows as a cult item, traded on E-Bay or fetching high prices at record shows. It was the popularity of the Doors which gave their keyboard player the opportunity to record such a beautiful and compelling work, and hopefully that significance will lead to these 16 selections finding a wider audience. As an educational tool, it is exquisite; as a listening experience, it is a tremendous addition to the Doors' library. Manzarek's own father liked it, which pleased the artist very much.
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