I picked up Saturday Night Fiedler about three years ago in the small classical section at The Great Escape in Nashville. It was still sealed, so I didn’t listen to it there. But, how could I pass up an album with Arthur Fiedler, long-time conductor of the Boston Pops, awkwardly posed in a white leisure suit on the cover? I kept the record sealed for awhile (partly because I didn’t yet really have a stereo), and finally cut the plastic for one of the Audio Oddities parties that the staff of Mills Music Library hold from time to time.
Side 1 (each side consists of a single long track) is a medley of tunes from the movie Saturday Night Fever: “Stayin’ Alive,” “Night Fever,” “Manhattan Skyline,” “Night on Disco Mountain,” and “Disco Inferno” (for some reason, they don’t include “A Fifth of Beethoven”). On Side 2 is an eleven-an-a-half minute piece called “Bachamania,” which is a disco treatment of well-known themes by J.S. Bach, including both his “Toccata and Fugue in D minor” and “Air on a G String.”
The playing on both sides of the disc is lackluster, and in places painfully out of tune. It’s pretty apparent that the orchestra just wanted to get through the recording session, and get on to more ‘serious’ music. Who can blame them? I feel particularly bad for the poor percussionist (whoever s/he was) who had to crank out a disco beat for nineteen minutes on one side and almost twelve on the other. Plus, according to Harry Ellis Dickson’s Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops: An Irreverent Memoir, Fiedler was too ill to conduct at the recording sessions for this album. It was Dickson himself who wielded the baton.
I plan to usually post a single track from each weird record. But, since the tracks on this one are so long, I’ve just put up the first 6 minutes or so of the Saturday Night Fever medley.
Listen to Saturday Night Fiedler:
And for something to look at while you listen, here’s the Fiedler Triptych from the back cover: