Music » CD Reviews

Raymond Scott

Rock 'n Roll Symphony (Acrobat/City Hall)

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In 1958, orchestra leader Raymond Scott released Rock 'n Roll Symphony, a downy-soft lounge record that had more to do with Percy Faith's cheesy strings than Chuck Berry's guitar heroics. The original liner notes claim the album is a rock and roll record for adults — without all the "crazy words, the screaming, and other exaggerated effects." Yet fans cherish Scott for those "exaggerated effects," which he bullied his musicians into playing. This odd reissue is an anomaly in his catalog. Scott (an electronic-music pioneer) spent his life juggling technical experiments with rent-paying gigs conducting orchestras. After a stretch scoring Looney Tunes cartoons, he became a record-company exec. Rock 'n Roll Symphony was one of the first records released under his watch. But it ain't rock and roll. It's filled with misty ballads like "Summertime," "Deep Purple," and "Stardust." A real period curio, Symphony remains an interesting misstep in an otherwise groundbreaking career.

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