Reflections - Original Instrumental Hits
CBS. Various Artists LP
Imaginations - Further Reflections
CBS. Various Artists LP
The chazzas have been kind to me of late. At a time when most of the review pile lies in a moribund heap sighing at me like a bored teenager I take great comfort from the plunder to be had in Cleck’s chazzas. And Brighouse, whose Oxfam furnished me with two half decent Be Bop Deluxe albums ['Modern Music' and their last 'Drastic Plastic'] and Bill Nelson’s second solo album ‘Quit Dreaming …’ but it was the hometown chazzas that once again saw me returning home with a bulging organic cotton tote bag.
Someone must have been down to Kirky Hospice with their dads old LP’s and who am I to resist? For there on a crammed shelf [which I had to get down on my haunches to inspect of course] lay ‘The Fifth Chasidic Song Festival 1973' and beside it something called 'Geulah Songs' by the Jerusalem Orchestra and all in Hebrew with a sepia picture of some smiling cherubs by the Wailing Wall. There was ‘Turning the Tides’ by Moon a jazz rock outfit from the 70's who are simply awful and ‘Air Pocket’ by Roger Powell a 1980 schmock rock LP [featuring Todd Rundgren on e-bow vomit] which I struggled to play all the way through but those covers and the fact that I’d never heard of these people and for the sake of 50p I could have in my hands some kind of lost classic but no it was all rubbish but hey ho they takes your money. But I’ve not finished, there was the Stanley Clarke ‘Journey to Love’ LP from 1975 which was all grubby and gritty but after being carefully washed with hand soap under warm running water it came up a treat - I can thoroughly recommend this method of cleaning records and the pleasure to be had in feeling those minuscule bits of grit wash away under your fingertips and the triumphal return to the turntable of a once more gleaming record where, as if by magic, most of the crackle has disappeared.
Its these two LP’s of instrumental hits that have had the most plays over recent weeks. Released in the early 80’s by CBS they capitalised on the continuing public appetite for all things film and TV themed, here a moment in time buoyed by the success of the likes of breathy New Age folksters Clannad and Greek keyboard prodder Vangelis whose ability to churn out twee tunes made him a household name and far more money than playing prog with Aphrodite’s Child. He has three contributions over the two here here but for what I'm presuming are contractual reasons his Chariots of Fire theme is played by a totally unknown to mankind outfit going by the name of Hawk & Co.
There are two reasons why I like these kind of 'instrumental' comps, one is that they contain music that I find oddly emotional and the other is the bizarre juxtaposition of artists and composers, its only on compilations such as these that you will find Phillip Glass [with ‘Facades’ au natural] sharing the same billing as Acker Bilk, Riuchi Sakamoto with Richard Clayderman, The Shadows with an Orchestra conducted by Geoffrey Burgon.
Imaginations contains my favourite Elton John track, ‘Song For Guy’. Favourite because I liked it as a kid when I heard it on the radio and favourite because he hardly sings on it [and like Clannad he does sing, a dint in the ‘instrumental’ lie]. Reflections also has the only Abba track I’ll admit to liking which is ‘Arrival’, a pop droner if ever there was one. Sakamoto’s Theme From Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence is still one of the saddest things I’ll probably ever hear and is simplicity itself but not all of its good of course. Comps are never perfect but the good stuff far outweighs the dross. Dross being panpipe music, which once upon a time used to be the default chazza background music until they all went upmarket and started having their own radio stations with Diddy David Hamilton dishing out tips on how to stay warm in between spinning Cliff tunes. So we have to have Flight of the Condor because you can't have a [supposed] instrumental album without Flight of the Bloody Condor on it or Cavatina, or sodding Albatross. I’ll even let them have American jazz twiddler Lee Ritenour playing ‘Love Theme from an Officer and a Gentlemen’ because I’d rather have his instrumental version than the original which is of course far superior.
You have to have some ying to your yang and this is my way of offsetting the hours spent at the foot of the review pile. After an hours worth of light classical and a smattering of Andreas Vollenweider’s harp I feel like I could tackle a Merzbow box set. Maybe that's going too far but you know what I mean.