English eccentric, founder member of Twelfth Night and renaissance man Clive Mitten has followed up his orchestral reimagining of Twelfth Night material (Suite Cryptique) with a double album where he goes back to his roots and reimagines some of the big beasts of progressive rock in orchestral form.
This is not a covers album per se, and instead see’s Clive single handedly re-interpreting major prog songs into the classical arena.
Before we start, I know that Clive is always keen to point out that this is not made by synthesiser, instead every piece of work on here has been crafted using the finest orchestral samples available, so when you hear violins, it is violins, and it’s undoubtedly a labour of love from Clive, playing homage to the music that influenced him as a misspent youth.
With wonderful sleeve notes, and a fantastic cover, when you look at the track listening you wonder how on earth Clive is going to do Rudy these songs justice, and blimey he certainly has the cojones to tackle some of the most well-known songs in progressive rock history.
It’s obvious from this Volume 1 release who Clive admires with Pink Floyd getting the full orchestral works on both Shine on You Crazy Diamond, which opens disc 1 in fine style, and Echoes which launches Disc 2.
Both are recognisable from the source material, but the way Clive cleverly uses orchestral instrumentation to replace the guitar work, and the soundscapes used on Echoes brings something new to something that is familiar, and this proficiency in orchestral work, and intuitive knowledge of what works well is part of the charm of this album.
Tubular Bells side one is another masterpiece from Clive, and is arguably better than the Orchestral Tubular Bells from the 70;s, it has all the spark and style of the original, whilst the orchestral arrangement brings something new to the party, and is a better rearrangement of Bells than the tired diluted reimagining’s of it’s original composer, or the pseudo Bells that other musicians try to pass off as homages.
Supertramp, a band that don’t seem to get the attention they deserve get full Mittened on here with three orchestral reimaging’s of Rudy, School and Bloody Well Right which are all arranged and produced to enhance the melodies and sounds that made the originals so great, Clive really sounds like he had fun with these, and they are great interpretations.
Genesis and Peter Gabriel are also heavily featured with Suppers Ready rounding off Disc 1, I mean Suppers Ready, one of the biggest prog tracks around, what new can be added? Yet Clive pulls it off in style, and his interpretation of Solsbury Hill (Disc 2) is fantastic, with the strings really pulling out the melody, all underpinned by some fantastic drum work. The interpretation on disc 1 of Games without Frontiers, here called Jeux Sans Frontiers is another brilliant take on a classic and displays how Clive can take something familiar and make it sound original.
Meanwhile the closing track on the album is the In the Cage Medley (from 1982’s Three Sides Live) pulling together the tracks Cinema Show, In the Cage, Slippermen and Afterglow as the band originally played it, but playing around with the sound and using the orchestra and other effects really brings a different sound to the proceedings.
Rush are represented by three different tracks on here, Countdown flows into La Villa Strangiato, and whilst you wonder sometimes how Rush managed to make such a mighty sound as a trio, Clive then throws the orchestra into the mix, with some of Geddy’s basslines performed on piano and it’s absolutely mind blown.
Meanwhile Xanadu gets interpreted in new and unusual ways that really highlight Clive’s intricate musical knowledge and his vision of taking the familiar and bringing something new to the table.
Jethro Tull’s Living in the Past gets a wonderfully percussive reimagination that is a joy to listen to and brings out the melody superbly.
This album is an absolute blast to listen to, and Clive’s playful and intelligent reimagining of classic tracks go far beyond what would be expected, and really bring them back to life with his carefully worked arrangements.
This is obviously a labour of love, and it shows throughout, I cannot recommend this album enough and cannot wait to hear where he goes on Volume 2.
Shine on You Crazy Diamond
Jeux Sans Frontiers
Tubular Bells (side one)
La Villa Strangiato
Bloody Well Right
Living in the Past
In the Cage Medley (Cinema Show, In the Cage, Cinema Show, Colony of the Slippermen, Afterglow)
Arranged, performed, and produced by Clive Mitten.