Ted Heath

The Big Ones

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The posthumously released The Big Ones captures eccentric British bandleader Ted Heath at the peak of his alchemical powers, transforming the biggest charts hits of the flower-power era to create singularly outré space-age jazz far freakier than anything produced under the influence of psychedelics. Heath's ingenious arrangements seem to reinvent these familiar pop songs from within, often abandoning the melody to seize on a stray idea or subtle nuance; for example, his rendition of the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" pays little attention to the song's legendary guitar riff while creating space for a series of unbelievably fierce drum breaks, while the Beatles' "Get Back" goes off in more directions than a group of escaped mental patients, only occasionally crossing paths with Paul McCartney's indelible melody. Even the songs you never wanted to hear again in any format -- "Spinning Wheel" and "In the Year 2525" -- seem fresh and exciting all over again, albeit completely unfamiliar in Heath's expert hands.