I’d Love To Turn You On: Classical And Avant-Garde Music That Inspired The Sixties Counter-Culture is the latest in El Records’ continuing exploration of the music behind the music of some of the greatest artistic creations of our time. El Records offers three discs chockablock with diverse sounds of the sort heard in the flats and mansions and parties of the doyens of the British underground.
Patient zero for the British counterculture is, of course, The Beatles. After all, part of the combination that made their sound so innovative was the steady and knowledgeable hand of producer and “adult,” George Martin. Having produced fine classical orchestras and radio programs, he had an understanding of the importance of nuance in one’s sound. With his touch, he brought Bach to “All You Need Is Love,” “Blackbird,” and the Yellow Submarine score. He also helped to fill the gap in their knowledge. For instance, it’s well known that Paul McCartney heard a Bach piece and was impressed with the piccolo trumpet. He asked Martin about it, and the instrument’s addition to “Penny Lane” helped make it memorable. Furthermore, the haunting Psycho shower scene inspired McCartney to add the stabbing violins to “Eleanor Rigby.”
But The Beatles brought their own musical tastes to the table as well. Paul McCartney initially proved the more avant-garde minded Beatle. John Lennon is often credited for such a title, thanks to his creative relationship with Yoko Ono. She had been a part of John Cage’s scene, his influence inspiring legendary sound collage “Revolution 9″. But Lennon had already been testing the waters. His nod to Karlheinz Stockhausen in “Tomorrow Never Knows” and his early use of sampling of King Lear in “I Am The Walrus” truly innovate. While the others were enjoying the noisier side of music, George Harrison stepped away. An immersive trip to India baptized him in the world of Indian music and Eastern mysticism, thanks to Ravi Shankar.
These curious sounds transfixed other members of the British rock scene as well. The Pink Floyd built their foundation on a mixture of jazz and classical. The offerings that inspired the madcap Syd Barrett range from Handel’s Messiah, classic cool numbers from Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Bill Evans. The schizophrenic Stravinsky composition The Rites Of Spring inspired both Barrett and David Bowie as well. Pieces from Sibelius and his beloved Jacques Brel highlight Scott Walker‘s inspirations. European Classical music that inspired Antonio Carlos Jobim and Brazilian classics that inspired Joao Gilberto close out this fine set.
Utilizing interviews and well documented research in the extensive liner notes, El Records once again provides music lovers with a fine historical compilation. That it’s easy on the ears as well only adds to its quality. I’d Love To Turn You On provides fantastic insight into what inspired the young musical talents of the day. Furthermore, it offers up some gorgeous music and proves to be an essential release. Kudos to El Records for the continual peek behind the curtain for those most heady and artistically revolutionary times.
Purchase I’d Love To Turn You On: Cherry Red / Amazon