Thursday, May 24, 2012

A FIFTH OF BEETHOVEN   -   Walter Murphy

YEAR:  1976
LABEL:  Private Stock
TRACK LISTING:  Flight 76 (Flight of the Bumble Bee),  (You've Got To Be) Your Own Best Friend,  California Strut,  A Fifth of Beethoven (Beethoven's Fifth Symphony),  Night Fall (Chopin's Prelude No. 4 in E Minor),  Russian Dressing (Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1),  Suite Love Symphony,  Midnight Express,  Get A Little Lovin',  Just a Love Song
IMPRESSIONS:  Before there was HOOKED ON CLASSICS, there was Walter Murphy sittin' on the top of the charts with his disco version of Beethoven's fifth.  What a country, eh?  Gloriously embarrassing music, this.  I remember buying this record when I was still living in Maple Surple as this was a huge bicentennial hit in the very early days when disco was just starting to take off.  I'll never forget family friend Ronnie kvetching about murdering the classics and why would I buy such a record when I could buy legitimate recordings of Beethoven or Tchaikovsky.  Well hey, I was 10.  And although it probably wasn't the intended purpose of Walter Murphy, this album probably helped me a long way towards my true love of classical music about 5 years later.  So, we must forgive the trashiness and embrace the fromage of this album.  From the album opener of Flight of the Bumblebee sounding quite a bit like the recent hit single "THEME FROM SWAT" by Rhythm Heritage, the goofy (but lovable) vocal performance of "(You've Got To Be) Your Own Best Friend" and the uber-disco embarrassing (Embarrasment seems to be a theme with this album) sweeping strings of "California Strut".  I actually believe that this record was originally not made out of vinyl but polyester!  But my God, hearing this album again after all these years is incredibly nostalgic!  And I still find myself expending the record skip during "Midnight Express". . .
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS:  (You've Got To Be) Your Own Best Friend,  California Strut, A Fifth of Beethoven,  Night Fall,  Russian Dressing,  Suite Love Symphony,  Midnight Express   
FACT SHEET:  A FIFTH OF BEETHOVEN is Walter Murphy's first album.  Murphy was given the idea of updating classical music by a producer while he was writing a disco instrumental for a commercial.  After shopping a demo around, Private Stock Records owner Larry Uttal contracted Murphy to make an album.  Even though Murphy played most of the instruments himself, the album was credited to "Walter Murphy & the Big Apple Band" when it was decided it might sell more as a "band" than as a single artist.  However, days later it was discovered there already was a "Big Apple Band" and subsequent pressings imaginatively changed the credit to "The Walter Murphy Band".  The single "A Fifth of Beethoven" went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100.  Never again reaching this kind of chart success, Murphy returned to jingle writing and television work including his Grammy award-winning work on "FAMILY GUY".     

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