Album Review: Alice Cooper & The National Youth Orchestra of Germany – “Peter and The Wolf In Hollywood”
Hang on, what? Alice Cooper narrates Peter and The Wolf… in Hollywood? Yeah, that’s what I thought too, but you know what, it totally works.
For those unfamiliar with the Prokofiev original, Peter and The Wolf is a children’s classical piece written in the USSR in 1936, which follows a boy’s adventures trying to catch a wolf, assisted by his animal friends. Throughout the story the orchestra plays musical onomatopoeia, with each animal assigned an instrument and theme that befits its character. Even if you’ve never heard the whole thing, you’d probably recognise Peter’s theme.
But as the name suggests, this is far from a straight retelling of the classic story. In partnership with the National Youth Orchestra of Germany, New York production company Giants Are Small have not only transposed the story to modern day Los Angeles, they’ve also added a six track prequel, where Peter arrives in Hollywood from Russia to stay with his grandfather (a deadbeat old hippy), and starts the wolf hunt off in a giant robot and gets chased by a helicopter. Hey, it wouldn’t be Hollywood without a bit of over the top action, right?
The new prequel is skilfully soundtracked with key snippets from popular classics, such as Wagner’s Ride of The Valkyries, Dukas’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and with a bit of Elgar, Puccini and various others thrown in, creating an easily accessible soundscape for those who wouldn’t normally listen to classical music. Alice Cooper makes a captivating narrator, as while this is far from his usual horror rock antics it makes use of the same trademark theatrical showmanship, and the National Youth Orchestra of Germany bely their collective ages, creating a truly gripping performance of the main telling of the hunt, and capture, of Peter’s deadly foe. Laugh if you want, but I was genuinely upset when the wolf ate Peter’s best friend, the duck who was almost human (spoiler – the duck survives).
There is also an accompanying app for iPad and iPhone, where you can walk through the story in animation, which would probably be great for kids I suppose. I’m fucked if I’m reviewing an app though, so I bought the CD. If you’re a parent, buy this for your children, they’ll love it, and it’ll be a great starting point to introduce them to the classics, and of course the work of Alice Cooper. If you’re not a parent, well, we’re all big kids these days anyway, so why not give it a go.