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Reply with quote  #1 
Hello everyone! I haven’t been on the board for a while, as I’ve been gallivanting around the UK and just returned last night. It was a fantastic trip and I might just make a post about all the exciting things that happened, such as a Rolling Stones concert, Beatles sightseeing, and other assorted madness. I already miss England, and am having a mild case of post vacation blues. With that in mind, I decided to do a British theme, specifically British orchestras. This also ties in well with the release of the Beach Boys’ symphonic album. I have included two Beach Boys songs and two other classics, originally by The Beatles and Procol Harum. Two are by the London Symphony Orchestra and two are by the Royal Philharmonic. So without further ado, here are this weeks contestants...

1. God Only Knows (London Symphony Orchestra)

2. Good Vibrations (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra)

3. Let It Be (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra)

4. A Whiter Shade Of Pale (London Symphony Orchestra)

I hope you’ll like the songs guys! I’m looking forward to hearing what you all think. The game is on!

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.
~The Beatles
Al Forsyth

Posts: 3,637
Reply with quote  #2 

Whew, tough one to vote on Jenny!  So, I'll take my time on this one, but kind of have an idea.

Keeping things British (sounds like a great trip you had) and this is vocal, choral and orchestra (and for T):

I heard Roger Daltrey on Friday with Boston Pops performing Tommy.
Very short snippet:

A diamond necklace played the pawn...

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Posts: 1,951
Reply with quote  #3 

Welcome back, GGH.

  I’m still getting used to these symphonic sounds.  They are quite nice musically, I guess. In the end I think they give off different feeling, sometimes entirely, from the original.  That said I thought the London Symphony was the best, and the worst.

My votes:

Gold- A Whiter Shade of Pale (London Symphony Orchestra) [thumb]

Silver- Let It Be (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra)

Bronze- Good Vibrations (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra)

Tin- God Only Knows (London Symphony Orchestra) - now I knew what Murry was talking about.

What a field-day for the heat 
A thousand people in the street 
Singing songs and carrying signs 
Mostly say, hooray for our side 
It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound 
Everybody look what's going down”
— FWIW, Buffalo Springfield 
Tom Tobben

Posts: 1,162
Reply with quote  #4 
The different instrumental tributes to various bands or artists can yield some interesting results. Sometimes they can come across as drab elevator Muzak, while at other times they can be quite lovely and highlight pleasant elements of the artist's original music, such as melodies presented in a different stylistic context or given the classical "highbrow" treatment. 

It will be a fun challenge to sort out and rank your four selections this week, all from well-known artists and songs, and from well-known orchestras. 

Here are a couple more lovely instrumental tributes that I've enjoyed from special tribute albums released in the 2000s:

From the String Quartet Tribute to the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album (2005), here's the Vitamin String Quartet with "You Still Believe in Me":

And, from the 2005 album Piano Tribute to Pink Floyd, here's a lovely interpretation of "Brain Damage/Eclipse", originally from their landmark Dark Side of the Moon album:

Back later in the week to cast my votes after further consideration of each selection in this week's battle.
Lee Marshall

Posts: 2,378
Reply with quote  #5 
By comparison I like the Vitamin String Four a ton ain't a contender.  Many of Brian's songs don't really lend themselves to a 'classical' least not in the traditional sense.  It's just muzak.

I'm going to mirror Deb's 'take...exactly.

Whiter Shade of Pale  [aka - the bleached bucket]  A song well suited to this kind of mistreatment.  Almost makes it out alive.
Let It Be  [not a song I generally enjoy...especially by Paul]  These folks actually make it sound better than 'the beatles' did..
Good Vibrations which Todd Rundgren does far better justice to than these folks...a song sadly and badly diminished.  Boooooo.
Gawd Only Nose.  Ruined.  A crime.  There's need here for 'the firing squad'.  Disgraceful. 

There is  no way on 'gawd's green earth' that I'm listening to any of these a 2nd time...let alone all week long.
John B

Posts: 2,174
Reply with quote  #6 
1.  "Good Vibrations" 

I think this is the most different, and different in this age of small hands, is good.

2. "A Whiter Shade of Pale"

It already was orchestral, now a little too much on the nose.

3.  "God Only Knows"

I know it's different to be a little slower, but maybe not this slow.

4.  "Let It Be"

again, very/too much/faithful
Cindy Hood

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Posts: 1,522
Reply with quote  #7 
Jenny, this is a nice theme.  

I'll vote this way:

Gold:  Let It Be.  A beauty with this one, keeping the same mood and tempo as the Beatles' original version.

Silver:  Whiter Shade of Pale.  Another excellent version of a very popular song.

Here's where it goes downhill on a very slippery slope:

Bronze:  God Only Knows.  They took a beautiful upbeat song and made it slow and sad.  

Tin/Pewter:  Good Vibrations.  This is bloody awful.  Some original songs are so well done that just nobody else could beat it.  This is one of those.

My final answer on this bunch.

"They're not gonna catch us. We're on a mission from God".
t bedford

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Posts: 2,004
Reply with quote  #8 
Whiter Shade of Pale - This is a pale comparison to the original, but passably listenable.

Let It Be - From the album "Montovani Murders the Beatles", I'm guessing.

Good Vibrations - I always wondered what GV would sound like without the cojones.....[nono].

God Only Noise - Fail.

Underture (from Tommy/The Who) - London Symphony Orchestra

If that won't play, try this....

I'm not a real billionaire, but I play one on TV!
bonnie bella

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Posts: 2,038
Reply with quote  #9 
Hi Jenny.  Nice to see you back.

Anyone can be in a symphony orchestra, as Mr Bean demonstrates here.

Back to vote later this week.

Happy Birthday Brian!



Clowns divorce: custardy battle.     Simon Munnery


Posts: 118
Reply with quote  #10 

Gold: God Only Knows (London Symphony Orchestra).  Tough choices.  Three songs I adore. I have often enjoyed orchestral versions of pop hits.

Silver: Good Vibrations (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra)  Could have gone other way.  Maybe I could blend both songs so we have God Vibrations and Good Only Knows.

Brass: A Whiter Shade Of Pale (London Symphony Orchestra). I can't really enjoy this song without hearing Matthew Fisher on Hammond Organ.

Tin: Let It Be (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra) Last choice mainly because I've never been a fan of this song.


Darren J. Ray

Posts: 3,431
Reply with quote  #11 

GGH, I’ve been listening to each one of these for the past four days. It was a challenge to rank them. Each track has both its merits and parts I dislike…

Gold - Let It Be (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - 2009)
Either mix of the Beatles’ original is gorgeous to me (and I’ve read Brian is a huge fan of it, too), especially the LP version with George’s solo up to the fore which they mimic here in an ‘80s kinda way. The juxtaposition of it and the rest of the orchestra is bizarre. Other than that, this version is pretty pedestrian. Points for an understated finish and that church bell.

Silver - Good Vibrations (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - 2004)
I’m not a huge fan of the original, but this is quite fun. Imaginative and almost entirely appropriate use of the different instruments for each part, like the honky tonk piano as a dip of the lid to the cantina bit on SMiLE. The crescendo at the end is maybe a fraction too bombastic.

Bronze - A Whiter Shade of Pale (London Symphony Orchestra - 1990)
Great! A version of the song without the pretentious lyrics and Gary Brooker’s strained vocal.

Participant - God Only Knows (London Symphony Orchestra - 1990)
Lovely clip, but the music certainly takes a few liberties with the original tune. Unlike the version a few weeks back, I don’t think this one enhances the song that much. By the end, I half expected William Shatner to come on talking about space being the final frontier.


Al Forsyth

Posts: 3,637
Reply with quote  #12 

Gold – Whiter Shade of Pale – The pizzicato basses in the beginning, the English horn and the big chorus – love this!  Percussion comes in on the Chorus play out as well. BIG ending!!!  Hands down gold to the London Symphony.  

Silver – God Only Knows – and there they are right again – LSO!!!  The build-up on the staccato section, that really doesn’t go so staccato with all of the other instruments, is so good.  My favorite parts of this song are whether whoever sings it – gets the diminished chords as Carl did (or plays it well).  Some choral in this towards  the end.  These have to be some of the best string players in the WORLD!  It’s beautiful.  The montage of images in this is amazing of Brian.

For the lower two:

Bronze to Let It Be.  Well done and just a little schmaltzy. Paulo would’ve loved this!

Tin to Good Vibes – which is nice, but may be too ambitious to make it all work. It doesn't quite make it all happen. 

Very classical week, Jenny.  Well played.

A diamond necklace played the pawn...
Tom Tobben

Posts: 1,162
Reply with quote  #13 
When I listen to such richly orchestrated instrumentals, I like to try to determine whether the added instrumentation and flourishes add to the beauty and mood of the song or detract from it, calling more attention to the orchestra than to the music. With those things in mind, here's how I rate this week's songs:

Gold -- "A Whiter Shade of Pale", London Symphony Orchestra. Procol Harum's original version is a lovely and reflectively melancholy song, and this version adds to the beauty of the melody and the mood, without Gary Brooker's distinctive vocals. Apparently, the melody was derived from a Bach melody, according to these comments on Wikipedia:
A BBC Radio 4 programme in the 2018 series “Soul Music” pointed out the resemblance between the Hammond Organ line of “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and J.S.Bach’s Air from his Orchestral Suite No. 3 BWV1068, (the “Air on the G string”) where the sustained opening note of the main melodic line flowers into a free-flowing melody against a descending bass line

Silver -- "Let It Be", Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Similar comments as above. The Beatles' original has a reflective, almost spiritual melody and mood. This version is very true to the original, while the orchestral instrumentation here adds to the mood and majesty of the song, without the need for lyrics. 

Bronze -- "God Only Knows", London Symphony Orchestra. Another mostly nice symphonic rendering of perhaps Brian's all-time classic song and one of his most lovely melodies. This version plays around with the song too much though, and seemingly calls more attention to itself in parts, particularly starting at around 2:00 into the song, and drags out a song that is under three minutes into an almost six-minute overdone symphonic piece.

Tin -- "Good Vibrations", Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Definitely overdone and overplayed, with segments of the song calling attention to the orchestra, its musicians and solos, and detracting from the modular majesty of the original song. I don't really need to hear this version again after listening to it completely several times for this week's battle.

Here's a groundbreaking blending of an orchestra with pop/rock music that really helped to bring orchestras into the pop/rock mainstream -- the opening tracks from the Moody Blues' landmark 1967 album, Days of Future Passed:

And back to another lovely Pet Sounds song, "Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder") as interpreted by the Vitamin String Quartet:

Last, here's a pop commentary on "Long Haired Music" from the mid 1960s, as recorded by Walter Scott & the Guise from St. Louis. Walter Scott was also the lead singer for the Bob Kuban Band (also a St. Louis band that still performs locally) who had a major national hit a year or two earlier with "The Cheater" and other lesser regional hits.

(Tragically, a couple decades later, Walter Scott (born Walter Notheis, Jr.) was murdered and his body hidden in a cistern by his estranged second wife's lover, who had also kiiled his own wife. It was several years after the murder before Scott's body was found and the killer was convicted of capital murder.)

Al Forsyth

Posts: 3,637
Reply with quote  #14 
Lennie Bernstein getting modal with some rock music.  Take it away Len >

Even better:


Making THE album:

Well it IS classic classical - AND in UK (Liverpool) - Thanks LISA!

A diamond necklace played the pawn...
David W

Posts: 466
Reply with quote  #15 

My votes and also using Debs order . 
Whiter Shade is the only one that sounds like it could have been an old classical tune rather than a pop re-hash

Gold- A Whiter Shade of Pale (London Symphony Orchestra) 

Silver- Let It Be (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra)

Bronze- Good Vibrations (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra)

Tin- God Only Knows (London Symphony Orchestra)

Occasionally though an orchestral rework of a pop tune can bring up something special .....take Andrew Oldhams version of Stones song The Last Time . The hook of the song later purloined by The Verve.

Still one of my fave albums is the Human Leagues instrumental version of their hits League Unlimited and Things That Dreams are Made Of though can it be described as orchestral ?

The Hollyridge Strings should get a mention as they did both Beach Boys and Beatles covers 

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