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Monday, April 7, 2014

Andrew Oldham Orchestra and Friends - "Play the Rolling Stones Songbook Volume 2"

The Andrew Oldham Orchestra and Friends - Play the Rolling Stones Songbook Volume 2
Download from I-Tunes, 2013
Gold Lake Records

A very surprise release is the volume 2 of the Rolling Stones songbook by Andrew Loog Oldham and pals.  At times I feel like I’m the only fan of the ALO Orchestra, and often I think his music making is more interesting than his discovery the Rolling Stones.  40 something years later we get volume 2, and not odd at all the music is mostly from the Oldham years with the Stones.  Oh, and I love this album. 

There is nothing really new here, but the taste factor is high.  It is like going to five star restaurant and expecting and then having that great meal.  So no surprise factor, except the (perhaps) cheeky version of “Bitter Sweet Symphony.”   But I think it’s better than the original version, which of course that record was based on “The Last Time” which in turn there was a lawsuit…. Nevertheless money was spread around, and I think everyone is happy for it.   

And again to taste, my favorite Stones songs are covered on this album.  “She Smiled Sweetly,” and “I Am Waiting” are here, and lovely versions as well.   “She Smiled”..  has that classic ALO production sound, which quietly builds up into a wow that started off as a whisper.  The High Dials, a band I don’t know of, does an incredible version of that song.  And the bass-fuzz sound of “Under My Thumb” gives me goose bumps.  I haven’t heard such an ugly garage rock sound in a long time. 

I don’t have the full picture of this album, due to the fact that I downloaded it from I-Tunes, and it sucks one doesn’t get info like who plays what or when or why or any of the mighty w’s one comes up in one’s mind while listening to an album.  Nevertheless if you’re a Stones fan, especially circa. 1966 or so, this is the album for you.  Oldham I am convinced is a genius. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Andrew Loog Oldham Orchestra - "East Meets West" CD remastered album

The Andrew Oldham Orchestra - East Meets West
CD, Album, Reissue, Remastered, Japan, 2013 (originally released in 1965)


This is a super interesting album due that Andrew Loog Oldham has a fascination with American pop, and here he puts his focus on his love for both The Four Seasons and The Beach Boys.  For me, this is what made the Rolling Stones so noteworthy during the Oldham/Brian Jones years -the mix of R n’ B with the love of contemporary pop.   Keith Richards spoke of the love of the blues, but with the Stones, in this time period, it was the crazy mixture of their original passion and the hit parade of that time.

Oldham was probably one of the first pop people to worship the brain of Brian Wilson, and the whole orchestra idea of his comes from a mixture of Wilson and the classic Phil Spector era, which were happening at the time of these recordings.   Now we get homages to artists or a sound many years after the original recording, but Oldham and company paid their respects almost instantly when these hits were on the pop charts.

The Four Seasons was masterminded by member Bob Gaudio and the Season’s record producer Bob Crewe.  Both of these men crafted, wrote and produced the New Jersey aesthetic as it happened.   Oldham’s appreciation sort of goes behind the Wizard’s curtain to look at how they work.  The Andrew Loog Oldham Orchestra is a great deal a tribute to the men behind the sound booth with the engineer.

The music here touches on the greatness of the Beach Boys and The Four Seasons, but the purpose could be meant for various reasons.  Since both artists were popular at the time, it could be seen as a cash-in to what was happening in the charts at the time, but I think a lot of it has to do with Oldham’s love for the medium of pop stardom, pop record making, and the vision of the guy in the studio who conducts and makes the music.   It is also about image, so there is a visual aspect to this narrative as well.

This Japanese issued CD has both mono and stereo mixes, and there are differences between them with respect to sound and even mood.  Again, the best $28 I have spent on a recording.