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The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra: Plays Prog Rock Classics

(Not a) classical gas.

When in 1969 Deep Purple performed their Concerto For Group And Orchestra with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, no one quite knew what to make of it. Some hailed it as an ingenious integration of rock and classical music; others dismissed it as a preposterous folly. Forty-six years on, very little has changed.

Per the album title, here we have the RPO tackling ELP’s Tarkus, Yes’s Roundabout and the like, roping in ‘a stellar group of musical virtuosos from the prog stratosphere’ (it says here) in a largely unsuccessful bid to add credibility to their florid symphonic labours.

Sure, there’s a couple of A-list stars (Thijs Van Leer, Patrick Moraz) but a whiff of barrel-scraping pervades elsewhere. Nine Below Zero’s Mark Feltham parps harp on the Moodies’ Nights In White Satin; Gryphon’s Richard Garvey wields his crumhorn on Tull’s Thick As ABrick; Floyd’s Comfortably Numb features Ian Bairnson, who after extensive research we can confirm is someone from the Alan Parsons Project.

Renowned prog icon, Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden, adds a scorching solo to Rush’s Red Barchetta, and that’s as good as it gets./o:p

Geoff Barton is a British journalist who founded the heavy metal magazine Kerrang! and was an editor of Sounds music magazine. He specialised in covering rock music and helped popularise the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) after using the term for the first time (after editor Alan Lewis coined it) in the May 1979 issue of Sounds.