Royal Philharmonic with Gavin Harrison + Guthrie Govan, “21st Century Schizoid Man” (2015): Exclusive stream

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It’s one thing for a hulking band to reconfigure prog songs in an orchestral format. Nothing new there, really. Leave it to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, however, to up the ante by including members of some of progressive rock’s best-known bands as featured soloists.

This is, after all, the same orchestra that collaborated with Deep Purple on 1969’s Concerto for Group and Orchestra. (They memorably brought Peter Frampton in to reimagine Fleetwood Mac a few years back, too.) With Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Plays Prog Rock Classics, we find modern-era King Crimson drummer Gavin Harrison showcased on an update of that band’s classic “21st Century Schizoid Man,” along with Guthrie Govan — who, like Gavin Harrison, also has connections to next-gen progressive rock star Steven Wilson.

Elsewhere, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Plays Prog Rock Classics includes multi-instrumentalist Ian Bairnson of the Alan Parsons Project on a new version of “Comfortably Numb” from Pink Floyd – who famously worked with Parsons on Dark Side of the Moon. Patrick Moraz, previously with both Yes and the Moody Blues, also helps the Royal Philharmonic reformulate Gentle Giant’s “Think Of Me With Kindness.”

Interestingly, “21st Century Schizoid Man” might be heaviest moment here, even on an album that includes Iron Maiden’s Adrian Smith having a go at Rush’s “Red Barchetta.” No small amount of credit goes to the propulsive contributions of Gavin Harrison, who earned initial recognition as an early-1980s touring member of Renaissance. He served as a member of now sadly dormant Porcupine Tree with Steven Wilson beginning in 2002 and has, perhaps most famously, been a member of King Crimson since 2007.

Guthrie Govan, meanwhile, was a member of Asia from 2001–06, and later was part of the offshoot band Asia Featured John Payne. He collaborated on Steven Wilson’s celebrated 2013 release The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories), as well as Wilson’s new album Hand. Cannot. Erase.

Jimmy Nelson

Jimmy Nelson

The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Jimmy Nelson
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  • bloggulator

    Suitably scary, especially in the last minute! Can’t make my mind up re. the middle section – the “smooth jazz” approach with the Rhodes piano is a little too “nice” (!) – but a great guitar solo nonetheless. Superb drumming, as always expected, from Gavin Harrison.

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