Many reading this blog will, I'm sure, have got behind the 'Cage against the machine' campaign to get John Cage's silent suite 4.33 to Christmas number one. As well as sticking it to the (white teethed) man this exercise has given the opportunity to reflect on the joy of space in sound. In a world where we are all increasingly busy, music which enables us to take time out and relax can be a treat indeed.
In the 1960's and early 1970's the desire for a non-challenging sound providing lifestyle accompliment manifested itself in the genre known as easy listening. Bacharach and David led the way and many others soon followed. Small orchestras (often linked to TV or film theme work) would produce whole albums of covers of the day and their own original material. Many sound very twee nowadays and fully justify ending up in charity shops but one are two are gems indeed. Alan Tew produced a number of excellent recordings (most notably covers of the Pink Panther and Pentangle's Night Flight) and Daley Wilson, Geoff Love and James Last also made some recordings of note. Another record worth hunting down is the Exciting Sounds of Tomorrow by the Pete Moore Orchestra.
Moore was a British arranger who worked with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Ted Heath among others and wrote string arrangements for London Weekend Television. He will be forever remembered for writing Asteroid, known to millions as the Pearl and Dean music ('Papah papah papa pa papapapah...')
If you are looking for hi-tempo then this album isn't the place. This is simply a record of smooth sounds of the day played really well. Jimmy Webb's all time classic Witicha Lineman kicks things off, its synthesized horns creating a sense of haunting nostalgia. The Beatle's Fool on the Hill soon follows - almost unrecognisable at first before a flute picks out the melody. A couple of Henry Mancini covers feature before Sinatra's It was a very good year. The real highlight of side one though is Windmills of my Mind. This track breaks out of mid pace and is played out as an up tempo bossa nova. Somehow this works and a song which I've generally always passed over is re-invented as a dancefloor monster.
Side two kicks off with Green Onions, less funky than the original and slowed down to give it a slightly regal feel,it's a good version. The funky vibe is maintained with Catwalk and Take 8 (both Moore original compositions) before the album signs off with a cover of You've made me so very happy. Unlike most albums of this type, this is an album you can happily sit and listen to from star to finish without it beginning to grate. Its also not impossible to track down so if you see it, snap it up!