The Andrew Loog Oldham Orchestra & Chorus - 16 Hip Hits
CD, Album, Reissue, Remastered, Japan, 2013
To step into a fantastic record store like Pet Sounds in Tokyo and seeing the entire Andrew Loog Oldham catalog reissued as CD, was something that almost forced me to cry, but I held my tears back and purchased all of them. They were $28 a piece and for sure worth every yen and cent. The first one I played was “16 Hip Hits.” To be honest I have a lot of these songs in a collection that was put together in the 90s, but for me, to hear it in its natural order - plus the additional 16 bonus cuts, well it was like being put in a time machine in 1966. Except I was in Tokyo not London.
Paul John Jones did a lot of the arrangements for this album, and the selection is mostly from the obsessive taste of Oldham. It was songs that were hits at the time, and Oldham at that time, didn’t look back or reflect on his past. This was music made to be carried out at that point and time. So one got a snapshot view of his world at the time, and the beauty of him is that he’s an artist, but I suspect that he was thinking about himself as more as a hustler than anything else. Music was another part of the hustle, and this is what makes this album such a sweet listening experience.
The arrangements appear to be slower, then the original recording hits, and there is a looseness of the arrangements that almost feel like it would fall apart any moment. So that adds a certain amount of tension in the work. For me, it gives a sense of charm, and with the additional good taste from Oldham makes these recordings essential for anyone who is interested in 60’s British pop. Most of the songs, if not all, are American orientated. They hanker back to almost an imaginary state of mind of the original recordings - but re-imagined by Oldham and perhaps Jones. But I suspect that Jones was just following Oldham’s lead, and Andrew it is all about image, and that image, is really beautiful.