Two obscure and prim, buttoned-up takes on American sixties pop
Year of Release: 1968
Back in 1968, the producer Irving Martin had the brainwave of gathering a collection of current tunes noted for their "strong melodic content" and arranging them for a small chamber orchestra. Among the sounds he singled out for attention were the likes of "Reach Out I'll Be There", "Up Up And Away" and "You've Lost That Loving Feeling", all of which seem like good choices. Also selected were "Satisfaction" and "I Was Kasier Bill's Batman" which, for different reasons, beg a few questions.
The LP slipped out that year without much press or public attention, presumably attracting neither the pop kids nor their easy listening Mums and Dads when I suspect it was meant to pull in both. More unexpected still was the solitary single launched from the platter, this sweet and subdued take on "Walk Away Renee" - a song so choicely and gently arranged in the first place you have to wonder if it ever needed this treatment.
Whatever your point of view, here it is. Both sides are clearly lushly produced and treated with the kind of care and attention you wouldn't expect of an orchestral pops record, and act as a reminder that the days when record companies would spend money on such recording projects are long, long gone. These days, if you want to highlight the flexibility of a group's songwriting, you tend to produce a reggae tribute album or produce a mash-up on YouTube, not hire a chamber orchestra. Each generation has its own particular idea on how new and respectful twists should be put on classic rock records.