Orford, Martin - Classical Music And Popular Songs

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Giant Electric Pea
Catalog Number: GEPCD1026
Format: CD
Total Time: 49:21:00

Over the years I've had the chance to get to know Martin Orford a little better than the average IQ fan. I know he had some difficult times in order to maintain loyal to IQ. I know he had to sell his car in order to buy that genuine mellotron. I know he had to survive on bread and water if he wanted to continue playing music. That's why I'm so happy for the guy that IQ is doing well. That's why I'm happy that GEP is faring well. That's why I'm so pleased that John Wetton has asked Martin to join him as a permanent member of his band. That's why I'm so pleased that there's finally an album in his own right, because besides playing keyboards, Martin plays a mean bit of flute, plus he has a nice voice as well.

Sadly neither the album's title of Classical Music And Popular Songs nor the sleeve design (courtesy of Jadis's Gary Chandler's brother Geoff) do the music any justice. Helped out by the likes of Gary Chandler and Steve Christe from Jadis, David Kilminster, John Wetton and all of his IQ buddies, this CD finally sees some of Martin's compositions transferred onto disc. Hence the fact that you can find a song like "Fusion" written some 25 years ago and even performed by The Lens, Mike Holmes' pre-IQ stint! There's also an orchestrated version of "Tatras" already known for its inclusion on John Wetton's Nomansland album. Yet Classical Music and Popular Songs (pfew I hate that title. Why couldn't he have called it Widgecraft?), really shows the true identity of Martin Orford, the man with the golden heart, or should we say the Flying Tart or the chiff chaff?

Opener "The Field Of Fallen Angels" starts with all the Celtic elements as if it was a Camel offshoot. Jowitt's Rickenbacker really is a deadringer for Chris Squire here, yet the rhythmic approach soon settles for Jadis at it's best. Boasting no fewer than two lead guitars plus the original voice of John Wetton, "A Part Of Me" is a song which could easily have been featured on any of the early Asia albums.

The nice thing about Martin's solo album is that, because it has taken him so long, he has this big selection to choose from, hence the variety of moods on this album. "Quilmes" is a solo piano piece which has often been performed on stage as a solo spot. In "The Days Of Our Lives," Martin takes care of all vocal duties, which illustrates that he comes close to the warmth and depth of Wetton. Augmented by the colourful sax of Tony Wright this is a nice yet simple composition. I especially like the part where Martin's vocals are overdubbed. "Fusion" is a great prog-song featuring a superb guitar solo and a wonderful build up.

Those who witnessed IQ live in the past might have seen them perform a "glam rock medley." Part of that medley has now been moulded into "The Final Solution," sporting a powerful drum and bass backing. "The Picnic" has to be the biggest surpise, as I didn't know Martin played acoustic guitar at all. Yet he plays it so well it has to make certain guitarists shiver! "The Overload" is a song which Martin proposed to IQ for the Subterranea project before it was rejected. The song is performed here by all of IQ except for the guitar part which is perfromed by Gary Chandler adding a lot of punch to the rhythmic composition.

For some time "Tatras" was Martin's solo spot during John Wetton gigs. Here he has added the full orchestration and flute, and listening to it makes me realize how well suited this would be as a film score. If ever they think of doing a sequel of the popular BBC series All Creatures Great And Small they should give Martin a call. The album closes with even more "visual" music in the form of "Evensong" (is this the balance for Camel's "Unevensong" ?), a pastoral song about the beauty of nature featuring a lot of (sampled?) flute. Again a wonderful symphonic piece which one day should be performed with a huge orchestra!

All in all this is a very enjoyable album illustrating the many talents of Martin Orford. The dark ages are well behind him so we are awaiting a new solo album fairly soon. How about Widgecraft?

Also distributed by InsideOut/SPV (SPV 085-41312 CD)

The Field Of Fallen Angels (6:26) / A Part Of Me (5:14) / Quilmes (3:02) / The Days Of Our Lives (6:15) / Fusion (5:05) / The Final Solution (5:59) / The Picnic (1:21) / The Overload (5:20) / Tatras (5:30) / Evensong (5:09)

Martin Orford - keyboards, flute, mandoline, bagpipe chanter, acoustic guitar, vocals, backing vocals
John Wetton - vocals
Steve Christey - drums
Gary Chandler - electric guitar
David Kilminster - acoustic guitar, electric guitar
John Jowitt - bass
Peter Nicholls - vocals
Paul Cook - tambourine, drums, percussion
Tony Wright - saxophone
Mike Holmes - guitar

Classical Music And Popular Songs (2000)
The Old Road (2008)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: September 1st 2000
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.gep.co.uk/martinorford.html
Hits: 2381
Language: english


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