King of the Hammond Organ when he played with Deep Purple. For those who did not know, he had quit Deep Purple in 2002 to concentrate on his classical music aspirations. Which is fair enough, he did after all invent the Hard Rock/Symphony combo in 1970 Concerto for Group and Orchestra. I remember when Metallica did the S&M albums and my class mates crowing how it was the first time a Rock/Metal band had done anything like it. To which I just wanted to punch them, ignorant fuckers. But hey, I digress as I often do. I did really enjoy Concerto For Group and Orchestra and to me it still is the pinnacle of the rock/symphony mash up.
Now, this was when I used to live in Ulverston, which is a lovely little town in Cumbria, which is too expensive to live in if you don't have a car. This is a town which does conflict itself quite a bit, on one hand it's full of hippies and alternative seeking folk, yet somehow always manages to vote Conservative. But they had this fantastic Oxfam shop, where I did my book and music shopping on a very very regular basis. And boy did I find some jewels there, amongst them was Bruce Dickinsons Skunkworks, which was the only album by Bruce Dickinson that I didn't have at that point! Then one day when I was flicking through their CD collection I came across this one... I instantly knew the name, but didn't know that he had published a solo album. I decided to take the risk to leave it there, while I went home to investigate. I checked on Amazon.com and I checked on Allmusic, just to see what other people thought and the major consensus was that it didn't suck. The next day I spent my hard earned pounds on that CD.
That album was Pictured Within that came out in 1998 and it is beautiful. There is nothing overpowering, just subtle nuances throughout, slight emphasis here and there. But mostly it's Jon Lord on his piano accompanied by strings. It's got singing on as well, but only one of them would fall under operatic, From The Windmill and Wait a While, but generally the singing would fall more under the blues/ballad style of things. There are heart breaking moments like Music For Miriam, which Jon Lord wrote for his mother who died that year. Jon Lord did rework that song and made it longer on his subsequent album Beyond The Notes. What is probably remarkable is how easy and natural Jon Lord makes it all sound, but then again this man did study classical music in his youth, but the jump from all out rock and mayhem in Deep Purple is still a great one. I do think he was right in leaving Deep Purple when he did so he could concentrate on his classical ambitions, and from we got Durham Concert, Boom of Tingling Strings and To Notice Such Things. If I had to compare it to anything I would say take all the softest, nicest bits from Beethoven, Vivaldi, Strauss and Bach, and you're pretty much there. It's a great album to put on and just leave in the background, or read to. Though possibly the best time to listen to it is when you've got your headphones in, sitting in a bus, preferably on a long journey, in the rain, during autumn time.
What this album did more then most was it made me dig out my classical music collection that my brother gave to me few years back for Christmas(So as I would stop listening to the bloody heavy metal), and I went out searching for more classical music. Like Gustav Holst The Planets Suite, Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet and the like. And of course like minded current neo-classical composers like Eluvium, Clint Mansell and Joe Hisaishi (he of Ghibli fame)