For years, the El imprint of Cherry Red has been collecting all the strangest and most fascinating avant-garde classical pieces, electronic experiments, and oddball rarities for a fervent group of admirers. Though their releases can be a little esoteric, El’s collections have always been able to welcome in new listeners. And now, they offer what might be the essential introduction to twentieth-century avant-garde and classical (at least for listeners tuned to popular music). It’s called I’d Love To Turn You On: Classical and Avant-Garde Music That Inspired The Counter-Culture, and it’s in stores now.
One of the reasons that the music of the mid-’60s remains so inviting and timeless is that musicians pulled from different musical cultures and idioms to create something inspired and altogether unheard in pop. I’d Love To Turn You On is 3-CD set that collects many of the foundational electronic, avant-garde, and international pieces that inspired some of those revolutionary moves. Drawing from interviews from The Beatles, George Martin, Bowie, Zappa, members of Pink Floyd, and others, the compilers have brought together a perfect primer of their favorite pieces.
Disc 1 features 15 pieces that inspired The Beatles, starting with an excerpt of Bach’s second Brandenburg Concerto. The story goes that Paul McCartney saw a performance of the piece on TV and was taken by the sound of the piccolo trumpet. He invited David Mason to play the instrument on “Penny Lane.” Further classical and avant-garde pieces that inspired the Fabs follow. From common fare like Bach’s “Bourree in E Minor” and Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” (adapted into “Blackbird” and “Because,” respectively) to the out-there sounds of Stockhausen, Berio, and Cage. Listeners are also treated to Bernard Herrmann’s iconic score from the shower scene in Psycho (which inspired the staccato strings in “Eleanor Rigby”), the scene from Shakespeare’s King Lear sampled in “I Am the Walrus,” and an improvisation on sitar by Ravi Shankar. Meanwhile, Disc Two features pieces that inspired George Martin, including compositions that were incorporated into the globe-sweeping fade-out in “All You Need is Love.”
And while a collection of pieces that influenced The Beatles could be exciting enough on its own, El continues on the theme, exploring Pink Floyd’s musical connections to artists as disparate as Bill Evans, Davy Graham, Sun Ra, Handel, and Stravinsky (represented by eight pieces from the New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s rendition of The Rite of Spring.) Meanwhile, Edgard Varese’s “Hyperprism” – composed in 1922 – points to Frank Zappa’s angular jazz that would emerge some four decades later.
Disc Three features the music that the Canterbury prog-rockers Soft Machine fused into their pastoral fare before featuring a trio of pieces that influenced the late Scott Walker. The collection is rounded out by the music that caught the attention of the architects of bossa nova, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto. Jobim’s love of romantic classical music is well-documented and represented here by pieces from Ravel, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, and Chopin. Gilberto’s influences, meanwhile, are represented by the lively “Estrada do so” by the hushed singer Lucio Alves; “Alma Brasileira” by his classical guitar mentor, Garoto; and the original version of “Estate” by Bruno Martino and Bruno Brighetti.
In all, I’d Love To Turn You On: Classical and Avant-Garde Music That Inspired The Counter-Culture is a concise roadmap to the myriad distant, strange, or other-worldly sounds that revolutionized music through their synthesis by emerging psych-rockers. The tape loops and experimentation from electronic pioneers, the lush sounds of romantic classical, or the sounds of instruments that had never been incorporated into Western pop, it’s all here, sequenced in an inviting way and presented in a slipcase with a hefty liner notes book.
So take a trip with El back to the source and discover the many artists that inspired a generation of exciting music. I’d Love To Turn You On: Classical and Avant-Garde Music That Inspired The Counter-Culture is on shelves now, or you can order it online with the links below!
-Igor Stravinsky – The Rite of Spring Pt. 1: Adoration of the Earth-