Brian Setzer Orch.: Wolfgang's Big Night

By: Sarah Moore

What happens when a well-known swing band decides to devote a full-length release to well-known classical works? One finds Wolfgang's Big Night Out (Surfdog Records), a frenzied, rocking tribute to the powder-wigged greats. As each track is an adaptation of movements such as Beethoven's "Symphony No. 5" ("Take the 5th") and Rossini's "William Tell Overture" ("Swingin' Willie"), the big brass band sound has a little leeway with its creative fuel. The album isn't restricted to instrumental pieces (although most of it is), as Brian Setzer and his backing ladies sing and swing along with familiar musical phrases as their backbone.

Each piece gets the rockabilly treatment, and the song titles utilize some lowbrow slang designed for a giggle (e.g., "Some River in Europe" is the adaptation of Strauss' "Blue Danube"). Setzer isn't afraid of overdone pop sensibilities on this, as some tracks end with sounds from retro cartoon follies ("One More Night with You" from Grieg's "Hall of the Mountain King") or '60s spy music. This disc is perfect for unkinking those stuffy dinner parties your mom puts on (and she'd like the album, too). There's even a track appropriate for the upcoming holiday season ("Take a Break Guys" from "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen") that wouldn't be a surprise if you heard it in a department store this December.

JamBase | Vienna And Beyond
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[Published on: 12/6/07]

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