Here’s a crazy idea: take the biggest, most symphonic prog monoliths and make them even bigger and more symphonic. An epic, hubristic task, bound to end in calamity, yes?
Far from it. This is immense and brilliant. The Royal Phil give us fully-orchestrated renditions of such landmarks as Comfortably Numb and Thick As A Brick, and imbue these old stalwarts with new zest. It’s like pictures at an exhibition coming to life; masterpieces bursting into 3D. Recorded at Abbey Road with a host of guests, these versions are both respectful and revivifying. Ian Bairnson reboots the solo on the Floyd classic, while Richard Harvey (ex-Gryphon) colours Tull’s calling-card. Patrick Moraz adorns Gentle Giant’s Think Of Me With Kindness, Gavin Harrison and Guthrie Govan prove they know their way around 21st Century Schizoid Man, Three Dog Night’s recently deceased keyboardist Jimmy Greenspoon spins Yes’ Roundabout, Iron Maiden’s Adrian Smith revs up Rush’s Red Barchetta and Thijs Van Leer revisits Focus II. Yet this is driven not by cameos but by its overall sweep and scale. From Watcher Of The Skies to Nights In White Satin, it’s exhilarating from conception to execution. A regal restorative.