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The John Schroeder Orchestra

Arranger/conductor/producer Schroeder does have a few pop/rock credentials: he wrote a number one U.K. hit for British singer Helen Shapiro ("Walkin' Back to Happiness") in the early '60s, made the first licensing deal for Motown product on British shores, and formed Sounds Orchestral, which had a Top Ten hit on both sides of the Atlantic in 1965 with "Cast Your Fate to the Wind." To the current space-age pop crowd, however, he's known as one of the chief exponents of what the British call "easy" -- recordings, mostly instrumental, which welded easy-listening pop arrangements to soul, rock, and psychedelic source material. At the time, naturally, it was critically ignored, as his work was really aimed at creating background music for those who found the original versions way too intense to handle. In the mid-'90s, of course, it's all the rage in London clubs, where his blaring horn charts and pumping Hammond organs provide -- um -- suitable background music for those looking for the cutting edge in retro sounds. Placed in the home CD unit rather than the dancefloor, it tends to sound rather trivial, if occasionally possessed of an inspired oddball charm. The demand is there, though (maybe for the first time), which paved the way for the reissue of some of his recordings decades after they made a beeline for the cutout bin. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi
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