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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Andrew Lloyd Webber: Variations CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)


Various Genres

3.86 | 56 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
1 stars The kind of project which gives progressive rock - no, scratch that - all variations of classically-themed and symphonic rock as well as progressive music as whole, a very bad name indeed. Lloyd Webber, him of the commercially-lucrative mega musicals 'Jesus Christ Superstar', 'Phantom Of The Opera' and 'Starlight Express' that are so beloved by housewives, middle-class Tories, American tourists and people who don't particularly like music, has here produced an 'original' classical composition for both orchestra and rock band. The album, helpfully titled 'Variations'(thanks Andy), is split into 15 glutinous, cheese- heavy sections, in which a highly-skilled orchestra clash horribly with some of their rock colleagues. The cast list on the 'rock' side raises a few eyebrows, too(not the only time eyebrows are raised in relation to this album) with such innovative progressive stalwarts as ex-Colosseum and Tempest drummer Jon Hiseman, current(as of late 2011) Deep Purple keyboardist Don Airey, Zombies and Argent founder Rod Argent, guitar hero and former Thin Lizzy axeman Gary Moore and the one-and-only former Genesis vocalist and drummer Phil Collins forever staining their impressive CV's with this embarrassing crap. The success of the album, which also features Andrew's cellist brother Julian, proves to be yet another eyebrow raiser, as 'Variations' was released in 1978, slap-bang in the slipstream of the yobbish and anarchic anti-music punk-rock movement, which hints towards the kind of person who was purchasing this album. Obviously, those with a penchant for classical music may find this right up their street but it's really rather worrying to see fans of Emerson, Lake & Palmer - who of course adapted many classical compositions within a rock framework - claiming this as some kind of high watermark of progressive rock's classically- tinted sub-genre. To put it mildly: this is not genuine prog rock. It's ersatz, glutinous, third- rate classical pomp rock made by a musical theatre magnate who always has one beady eye on the commercial viability on any and every project he is involved in. His idea of 'rock' music amounts to little more than sub-Foreigner pop-rock, with his many hit shows a testament to that. Of course, the beauty of music(and of living in the Western, democratised world) is that it is completely subjective; no-one really has good taste, no one actually has bad taste. No-one should be ashamed of the music hey listen to whether it be Frank Zappa, Tom Jones, Atomic Kitten or Beyonce. However, there is one small exception that proves this universal rule: Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Variations', a pile of dated, pseudo-progressive and utterly-appalling classical-rock junk that shames it's large and impressive cast of top- notch musicians. Sorry guys, but this dire excuse of an album really is the(musical) pits. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2011
stefro | 1/5 |


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