Listen/Download – Ron Frangipane and His Orchestra – Venus Listen/Download – Topanga Canyon Orchestra – Crimson and Clover
I hope the new week finds you well.
I should start off by mentioning that you may have noticed that the graphics have disappeared from some of the old posts.
Thanks to having to change domains at extremely short notice, both Funky16Corners and Iron Leg suffered some interwebs damage last week.
The Iron Leg problems were much smaller, due to the fact that this is still a WordPress-hosted blog, so the basic framework and URL remained untouched, and only graphics and sound files (and the locations thereof) were affected.
I am restoring the links on the old content as time allows.
The tunes I bring you today are a couple of very tasty examples of late-60s, exploit-kitsch, in which mainstreamers applied their orchestral talents to the pop hits of the day.
Sometimes, the results were unfortunate, revealing the decided non-hipness of the creators in short order.
I have lots of both, since I am pathologically incapable of passing up stuff like this when I’m out digging.
Other times – the rarer ones – where the orchestrators in question were more talented (and hip) the music was quite groovy indeed.
The two tracks I bring you today are particularly nice examples of those rare moments when the pieces all fell into place, and the sounds were cool.
The first comes from a 1969 album by the Topanga Canyon Orchestra.
The guiding light in this case was an arranger named Norman Ratner (who also worked on Mark Eric’s epic album of Brian Wilson worship, as well as Don Grady’s Canterbury 45), and despite some very unhip saxophone in the beginning, their version of Tommy James and the Shondells’ ‘Crimson and Clover’ manages to get just a little bit far out, with some groovy a-go-go combo organ that sounds like it dropped right out of a movie soundtrack.
New York-based arranger Ron Frangipane (who did the orchestrations on John and Yoko’s ‘Sometime In New York City’) takes a slightly more substantial approach with his version of Shocking Blue’s ‘Venus’.
The arrangement is a bit closer to the source material, and toward the end of the cut things get genuinely trippy with some crazy psychedelicization.
The Frangipane LP, ‘Rated X For Excitement’ actually has more bang for the buck, and can be found rather cheaply.
Ironically, the Topanga Canyon Orchestra LP, which only has a few interesting tracks tends to be much more expensive.
I hope you dig the sounds and I’ll be back next week with more.