Easy Listening

I Hear A Symphony

Performed By: The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Distributed by: Silva Screen Records

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            I love Motown music.  I grew up listening to the classic hits of Motown, which is why I was thoroughly intrigued when I received I Hear A Symphony: The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra perform the Classic Hits of Motown.  I was especially interested when I read the track listing which featured songs by Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Lionel Richie and more.

            However, I was thoroughly unprepared for what I was about to hear once I popped that CD into the player.  I suppose I should have been.  After all, the London-based Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is an orchestra, not a Motown band, and they are going to bring their own style to these Motown classics.  And yet, I found myself staring at the CD player with a surprised look on my face through the first couple of songs.

            After a while, though, I started making a game out of it.  How soon could I guess which Motown favorite was being performed orchestra-style?  This album contains quite a few of my favorite Motown hits like Just My Imagination, I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Papa Was a Rolling Stone, Someday We’ll Be Together, Get Ready, My Girl, What’s Going On and more.  Some of the tracks do contain vocals performed by The Crouch End Festival Chorus, but for the most part, the vocals are limited to what you yourself provide and, believe me, I was more than happy to do so.  I couldn’t help but sing along once I recognized the song.

            In the end, I came away with mixed feelings about I Hear A Symphony.  While I enjoyed the Motown songs found on this album and was intrigued by the interpretations of these songs by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (conducted by Ben Foster), I still enjoy the original songs much more. 

            Of course, I could definitely see myself listening to these tracks while on hold with some company on the phone and getting caught by a customer representative as I belt out the tunes.  I can also see myself getting caught on camera as I dance to these tracks being played in an elevator or a convenience store.  So, I can’t really complain about the new interpretations of classic Motown.  You’ll just have to formulate your own opinion by checking out I Hear A Symphony for yourself.


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