Metallica, Mozart, one of that crowd

A friend kindly lent me a copy of Metallica’s aptly named ‘S+M’ album yesterday. It features the heavy metal band and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. I listened to it all the way home. I thought it sounded like a detuned concrete mixer on speed.

I recounted my reaction this morning. We managed to discuss the matter like gentlemen, if only because we actually seem to have not too dissimilar reactions to it (other than that he loves it and I hate it). Essentially we love the idea of a classical/rock crossover, with the promise of mixing the greatest music ever written with the electric guitar, which is surely the twentieth century’s great contribution to music.

The only trouble is, where is that crossover taking place? There are some pretty excruciating banalisations of both perpetrated by the likes of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and every now and then a band like the Nice (great idea, rapid collapse into pretentious drivel) or Yngwie Malmsteen (pretty good playing, brain-dead backing band) will come up with a pretty good synthesis. There are some pretty great rock versions of Pachelbel’s Canon in D currently floating about YouTube.

But the counterpart of Miles Davis’ or Frank Zappa’s wonderful and sustained rock/jazz crossovers are conspicuous only by their absence.

Why is this?

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