TamTam Books News

Saturday, November 20, 2004:

The Andrew Loog Oldham Orchestra
“The Rolling Stones Songbook”

Jack Nitzsche
“The Lonely Surfer”

The Aranbee Pop Symphony Orchestra
“Todays Pop Symphony”

It has been my estimation that pop music Managers not recording artists, especially during the 60’s, were the real movers and shakers of the Pop Music world. For instance Andrew Loog Oldham.

Here was a man who gave The Rolling Stones their image and vision. Was it enough that he also produced their records without knowing the first thing about record production. This is what he knew.

Phil Spector is/was the greatest record producer – who had his own orchestra of sorts (The Wrecking Crew), so therefore why couldn’t Oldham? On top of that in my opinion Oldham was the best producer for the Stones. It was under his watch that the Stones developed as songwriters (actually locking them in a room and not letting them out unless they had a song) and with their constant touring of the United States; they also constantly worked in recording studios within Chicago and Los Angeles.

Under Oldham’s direction the Stones made powerful music that was also visually drenched with darkness with the addition of pop fighting it out with the blues. Jagger and the boys saw themselves as a blues band, but Oldham saw a ‘pop’ phenomenon in his Blues’ obsessed boys.

Under the influence of Jack Nitzsche’s “The Lonely Surfer,” Oldham decided to make his own orchestration album of Stones’ songs. Here Oldham lives out his Spector fantasy – and actually made a record, which in my opinion is better than the Stones’ recordings. For one thing, it rocks. Not in volume or power cords, but in concept that actually works.

Oldham captured the inner-romantic quality of the Stones. His recording of “The Last Time” is now famous for being used as a sample for the Verve’s “Unfinished Symphony” but the original recording has even a darker edge than the Verve version. It’s an awesome piece of music. Hypnotic and majestic than anything. In fact Oldham goes for the grandiose aspect of these pop songs – which maybe is the main difference between the originals and Oldham’s take on their music.

The unique thing about the orchestraional project is that Oldham sees the Stones more in a pop vain than an R 'n' B band. The Rolling Stones thoughts are following a blues connection, but in Oldham’s eyes they are following a pure pop tradition. What all this means is that the Stones early 60’s catalogue is more complex than a simple version of the blues or even rock n’ roll. Oldham opens up all sorts of possibilities in how the Stones are played out in the public arena.

Of course Oldham would list his friend Jack Nitzsche’s first solo album “The Lonely Surfer” as an influence if not a diagram for his orchestration work. Nitzsche, a legendary arranger for Phil Spector and a Stones sideman during the 60’s made “The Lonely Surfer” as the ultimate symphony pop album. He achieves his goal in that this album is a mixture of classic Spector sounds with a lighter touch. His use of strings is almost Wagnerian in its scope to enrapture the melody of the piece. Moody as hell, and one gathers he is not only capturing the soul of a lonely surfer, but also the lonely record buyer.

“The Aranbee Pop Symphony Orchestra” by Oldham & Co. is not a masterpiece, but on the other hand it is a snapshot of genius at work. What is beautiful about this album is force-feeding the aspect of Stones’ pop into a classical mode. And not only that it shares Oldham’s obsession with the 4 Seasons (the band not the classical piece) music as well – well at least on one track. I think anyone who comes across the Oldham Orchestra records would immediately think that they are just cashing-in on the Stones popularity at the time. But I feel that this is not the case and that the music on these albums holds up
to their own – and suppress the actual Stones recordings.

Of the three releases the strongest are the Jack Nitzsche and “the Rolling Stones Songbook.” One wonders how Jagger and Co. would feel about this album at the time –or even now. Nevertheless it is a classic work of re-thinking the Stones’ material– and a certain amount of healthy bravo from Andrew Loog Oldham.





Tosh // 11:46 AM
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