Come Join My Orchestra: British Baroque Pop Sound 1967-1973 / Various
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UK three CD set. When Paul McCartney - who arguably kick-started the whole baroque pop genre when he recorded the likes of 'Yesterday' and 'Eleanor Rigby' with pivotal strings arrangements - made his oft-quoted remark that pop was the classical music of the 20th Century, perhaps he meant it in a more literal sense than anyone realized at the time. In the immediate wake of ground-breaking albums like Rubber Soul, Revolver and Pet Sounds, the British and American music scenes became increasingly ambitious and cerebral. As the major recording studios becoming ever more sophisticated, a new generation of musicians and producers sought to emulate the backroom auteur status of Brian Wilson or the symbiotic relationship between George Martin and The Beatles. A new, more melancholic strain was introduced into British pop: expansive orchestral arrangements merged with the burgeoning psychedelic mind-set to create such studio-bound masterpieces as Days Of Future Passed and (of course) Sgt Pepper, with harpsichords, oboes, flutes, recorders and French horns providing a moody, introverted chamber pop flourish. Wilson and The Left Banke led the way in the US, but Britain was also awash with acts mining the baroque pop seam. Honeybus, The Zombies, Donovan, Nirvana and many others made significant recordings in that field, fusing mournful minor chord melodies with fey vocals, ornate arrangements and what had previously been considered non-rock instrumentation. Come Join My Orchestra covers British baroque pop's formative years and it's integration into a wide variety of genres, ranging from Johnny McEvoy's exquisitely sculpted take on traditional pop balladry and a clutch of dyed-in-the-wool folkies (Ian Campbell, Bert Jansch etc) to McCartney acolytes (Fickle Pickle, Mike Batt, the Gerry Rafferty-led Humblebums) and symphonic/art rock bands like Procol Harum and Barclay James Harvest. With a lavish 40-page booklet, many recordings making their first appearance on CD and two tracks (by The Regime and The Mellow Yellow) gaining their first-ever release, Come Join My Orchestra is a fascinating overview of what was a major development in late Sixties pop music, and one that reverberates to this day.
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