My father was not big into popular music. I think that the only pop album he ever bought was The Beatles’ ‘Let It Be’. He did however also splash out on an imported version of Deep Purple’s ‘Concert For Group & Orchestra’ which teamed the hard rocking Deep Purple with the classical sound of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Somewhere inbetween this was one of those cheapo MFP albums called ‘Classics With A Beat’ which did exactly what it said on the tin. It took popular classical music and put a beat to it.
This mixing of classical and rock was pretty prominent back in the late 60’s and early 70s with songs like Miguel Rios’ take on Beethoven’s ‘Song Of Joy’ making the Springbok charts in July of 1970. But earlier that year (in the April to be a bit more precise), we took Omega Limited’s dense rock take on Tchaikivsky’s Piano Concerto Number 1 to heart and propelled it to number 3 on the Springbok Top 20. Instead of a piano, the band (who hailed from Cape Town) used guitars, one for the more bassy tune while a more jangly one flits round it.
The result is a brilliant, rocking, slightly psychedelic piece of music that even your parents would recognise and maybe, just maybe, you could have got away with saying, ‘Look mom, dad, I’m listening to classical music’ and they couldn’t really argue…although they probably would have anyway. But for a short while in recent musical history, classical was cool, as long as we didn’t worry about all that orchestra stuff and let the guitarists get on and rock those tunes for us.
Where to find it:
Various Artists – The Best of SA Pop Volume 2 (1994) GMP, CDGMPD 40486 (CD)