I’d Love To Turn You On review – How David Bowie, the Beatles and others stole from the great composers

This compilation is a valuable reminder that even the most celebrated musicians didn’t think it all up on their own

I’d Love to Turn you On
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Artist: Various Artists
Genre: Classical
Label: El Records/Cherry Red

With a subtitle that could easily scare the unadventurous – Classical and avant-garde music that inspired the Sixties counterculture – this 50-plus song compendium of 50-plus works by composers sets out to join the dots between Johann Sebastian Bach and The Beatles, Vaughan Williams and Nick Drake, Frederick Delius and Scott Walker, and Igor Stravinsky and David Bowie to name but a few.

While The Beatles were the first pop mainstream group to consider the creative advantages of borrowing/pilfering (delete where applicable) from classical and avant-garde areas, US music acts such as Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead and Frank Zappa weren't too far behind.

Beatles' songs such as Tomorrow Never Knows, Strawberry Fields Forever and A Day in the Life, specifically, processed the sonic identifiers pioneered by John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Luciano Berio, while Penny Lane and Blackbird owed measured debts to Bach. Pink Floyd, also, codified musical ideas from George Frideric Handel to Sun Ra and John Coltrane.

And so it continued throughout the remainder of the 1960s and the following decade with the music of Scott Walker and Nick Drake influenced, respectively, by Delius and Williams.


This superb collection, which also features music from Ravi Shankar, Bernard Herrmann, Bill Evans, Charlie Parker, Coltrane, is a valuable reminder that even the most celebrated rock/pop musicians didn’t think it all up on their own.

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea

Tony Clayton-Lea is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in popular culture