Wolfgang's Big Night Out

Brian Setzer Orchestra

Surfdog Records, 2007


REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


Lovable lunatics -- what can you do but love them?

And what can you call it but inspired lunacy when MC Retro himself, Brian Setzer, takes a series of classical, well, classics, and puts them through his personal musical Wayback Machine?my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Kids like me who still remember with shameful delight what disco did to Ludwig (“A Fifth Of Beethoven”) rejoice right off the bat as Setzer and his crack ensemble of big band swingers take Beethoven’s 5th -- the “Smoke On The Water” of classical music -- and turn it inside out, giving it Rat Pack horns-and-cymbals swing, with a little rockabilly guitar solo thrown in the middle.

The title track -- an adaptation of Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” (“A Little Night Music”) -- swings with restraint in the opening bars, as Setzer runs through the main theme once on guitar before handing it off to the muted trumpets, who in turn hand it off to the saxes and flutes before the full band kicks in.  Next up, Setzer takes the ascending melody line of Rimsky-Korsakov’s frenetic “Flight Of The Bumblebee” and turns it into a Carl Perkins shred-fest while the horns and female backing vocals throw a party around a silly, winking lyric about a “Honey Man.”

Further along, Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” is transformed into “Swingin’ Willie” to dynamic effect.  And before you’re done, Setzer & Co. have performed similar musical extreme makeovers on Wagner, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky and even Strauss, whose “Blue Danube” is rather sassily renamed “Some River In Europe.”  But then, this entire album is sassy -- that’s kind of the point.

I’m honestly not sure how many listens this one will demand -- it’s more or less a novelty and I’m fairly confident its spell will wear off sooner rather than later -- but for a few listens at least, it’s a giddy, swingin’ hoot.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2007 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Surfdog Records, and is used for informational purposes only.