Friday, 8 August 2008

Bands and Orchestras

There appears to come a time in every rock musician's career when they decide that what they really, really want from life is to perform with a hundred piece orchestra. Here are some of the more interesting results.

  1. Metallica, S&M. That's the San Francisco Philamonic and Metallica, for anyone who was wondering. One of the few examples of the genre that's actually really rather good, providing a great live set lent extra drama by the additional orchestration. From before the St Anger album too, so none of the rubbish from that.
  2. Deep Purple, Concerto for Group and Orchestra. The original, and still the... no, I can't say that with a straight face. Contributed to one of the bands many (many, many...) break ups.
  3. Steve Vai, Sound Theories Vols 1&2. Volume one is reworkings of many of his better known (for a given value of better known. Obviously no non-guitarist will ever have heard any of his work, which is actually something of a pity.) works. Volume two is a collection of pieces Vai wrote in his other capacity as a composer. Too odd for my tastes, and hardly the best introduction to his old stuff. Get The 7th Song instead.
  4. Yngwie Malmsteen, Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra. Every bit as pretentious and overblown as the title suggests, but great fun. Actually one of his better albums because A) we don't have to put up with his dated idea of what makes a good song, and B) he actually has some vague respect for the abilities of orchestral musicians, which is more than he ever seems to have for his bandmates.
  5. Dream Theatre apparently performed with an orchestra on one of their tours, but I haven't been able to find an album that came from it. Frankly, I'm surprised they needed the extra instruments, this being a band that dragged a full size gong into position every night as part of the percussion set up, but only used it in one song, which they only played every other night.

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