"Classical" (SoundShop Records)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

What a concept! Take some of the most popular and revered pieces of classical music and set them to electric guitar! Brilliant!

Okay, maybe it's been done before. But it's never been done the way that former Accept guitarist Wolf Hoffmann has done it. Hoffmann has taken some of his favorite pieces of classic music and morphed them with metal. "Morphed" is a pretty good description of what Wolf has done here. He hasn't merely taken classical pieces and transcribed the piano for the electric guitar, Wolf has made these pieces his own. He's given them a new vibe; a new vigor. He's modernized them and made them new again.

To quote Hoffmann from inside the CD, "I'm not trying to recreate what the 'Old Masters' had in mind when they wrote those great compositions. These are simply instrumentals inspired by and based on the originals. I tried to give them a new twist and took the liberty to arrange them somewhat differently, hoping the composers would forgive me. I figure, maybe Ravel would have played 'Bolero' this way, if he'd had a whammy bar and a Marshall stack ..."

And that's what he's done. "Classical" is as much a tribute to classical music as it is a revival. Wolf's razor-sharp fretwork has bolstered these pieces and given them new life. You can't take anything away from the original works, but Wolf has added to and expanded them.

The CD begins with a spooky rendition from Georges Bizet's Carmen, Suite #1. Next is a funky version of Edvard Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King." Track #4, "Arabian Dance" by Peter I. Tchaikovsky, is given a new voice here. Ravel's "Bolero" (which Hoffmann mentioned above and which was made famous by Bo Derek in "10") becomes a smooth, bluesy piece, perfect for rainy days. The CDs final highlight is its last track, a ripping version of Edward Elgar's "Pomp & Circumstance" (bet you never thought you'd see the word "ripping" used to describe "Pomp & Circumstance" did you?) The remaining tracks as just as powerful.

Wolf Hoffmann's "Classical" is a killer CD. Fans of Hoffmann's earlier work will delight in it. And I'd be surprised if fans of classical music didn't find it damn listenable as well.

Featured on "Classical" are: Wolf Hoffmann, guitars; Peter Baltes, bass; Mike Brignardello, bass; Michael Cartellone, drums and percussion; Larry Hall, piano; W. Anthony Joyner, bass; Dr. Al Kooper, B3.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2000 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02 Oct 2022 15:17:12 -0400.