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20 Spirit of America

101 Strings Orchestra

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Album Review

As its title implies, 20 Best of Spirit of America collects instrumental versions of patriotic American songs, including "Fanfare for the Common Man," "Battle Hymn of the Republic," and "Shaker's Melody From Appalachian Spring," as performed by the 101 Strings Orchestra. Befitting the collection's subject matter, the ensemble forgoes much of its trademark lush, more-than-slightly cheesy sound, opting for a more reserved, formal style that still sounds appealingly retro to contemporary ears. "Liberty Bell," "Strike Up the Band," and "Stars & Stripes Forever" are in keeping with this rousing but straightforward style, while "Ave Maria" and "Shenandoah" sound more like the schmaltzy 101 Strings that dominated the '50s, '60s, and '70s. Anyone looking for an extremely serious collection of patriotic music will be disappointed, but fans (ironic or otherwise) of old-school easy listening instrumentals will enjoy being carried away on the sweeping strings of 20 Best of Spirit of America.

Biography

Formed: 1957

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s

One of the most prolific and reliable names in instrumental easy listening music, the 101 Strings Orchestra has literally recorded hundreds of albums since its inception in 1957. Their trademark sound is built on a reverence for melody, pristine production, and a pleasant, relaxing ambience; while occasional albums have concentrated on brass, piano, guitars, and even mild rock & roll rhythms, the string section — true to the group's name — nearly always remains front and center, because...
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20 Spirit of America, 101 Strings Orchestra
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