London Symphony Orchestra

Symphonic Rock: American Classics

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This album is either the latest example of a classical label prostituting itself in search of a larger audience, or a legitimate attempt at crossover within an orchestral pops vein, given added appeal through the presence of the Roger Dean cover graphics and the near-suppression of the Telarc identification. The "classics" done up in 60-piece orchestral majesty include "Born to Run," "Tears of a Clown," "Superstition," "Hey Joe," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," "God Only Knows," and "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" (which hardly belongs here, as the product of Scottish songwriter Ewan MacColl). There are some surprises here -- the swirling strings that open "Born to Run" in the style of "Jupiter" from Holst's The Planets, and the almost swing-style sound that the horns achieve; the muted string introduction to "Superstition," which builds up its volume Boléro-like almost to the point of harshness; and "Hey Joe" takes its lead from Jimi Hendrix rather than the Leaves' or the Byrds' versions, handled very slowly with lots of unexpected orchestral voicings, including a moment that almost sounds lifted from George Gershwin's blues and jazz-inspired work. "River Deep Mountain High" is treated with surprising restraint until the muted Royal Choral Society comes in during the second half. There are no notes of any kind, and the overall effect is that of listening to very middle-brow orchesral pops material rather than any daring statements about the nature of the songs being played or the revelation of any unusual attributes in the material.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 03:53
2 02:51
3 04:46
4 06:55
5 04:36
6 03:52
7 03:54
8 04:14
9 05:32
10 04:14
11 05:42
12 05:38
13 03:54
blue highlight denotes track pick