It's odd that there is so little information on this library entity available, still no English or French wikipedia page, for example.
In 1974 the franchise is launched with tracks from a whole host of composers, the full title being Music for Radio and TV. Its soundtracky easy listening music with grand piano and orchestra was very much a part of those times, and in all honesty I found this first ed. hugely enjoyable in terms of quality, with even some advanced compositions to boot. Unfortunately on the second volume, in which involvement by C. Lara commences, there is less to cling on to here in terms of quality though the style is superficially the same. And this diminution carries through Volume 3, sadly, as well as 4 in which the composers from the first are reprised, until we get to the 5th which uses new blood Frank Wilding (aka of Jean-Claude Aron Bacri) and violinist Igal Shamir, whose folky-fiddled polkas really drove me crazy-- though it's admittedly a short drive. So the new blood in this case goes straight to the yellow biohazard containers. (At least for me, apologies to those who enjoy.)
At this juncture, in 1975, the long titles are dropped and each colored sleeve is simply labelled with April Orchestra and the volume. Volume 6 (with compositions by the trio Bitboul, Costa, and Yared) perhaps as a result is significantly superior to its immediate predecessors with a return to those lovely easy listening film themes. Suddenly then and rather abruptly in Volume 7 we seem to have a quick catch-up to popular trends with the introduction of fusion, though these tracks are all stolen from pre-existing albums, namely, Magma-related Rhesus O (which came out in 1971), master prog-fusioneers Moving Gelatin Plates, and a completely forgettable outfit called Titanic (from 1970). What an odd mixture, again, it leads me to wonder who was navigating this particular ship?
Then, like an unhealthy smoking habit that's impossible to break, Volume 8 returns with the soundtrack music again after such a promising dip into more interesting sounds. Nonetheless the instalment, with the usual composers from earlier volumes and despite the presence of the by-now pestiferous Lara, is undeniably good. In particular the sharp Belgian songwriter Jean Vallée really takes it home with such gentle beauties as La Demoiselle Du Manoir:
The harp and acoustic guitar each in one stereo channel, augmented by the vibes in the second half of the melody, just kill me every time. They knew, back then, not just how to compose such painfully exquisite beauty, but what instruments to achieve the maximally teary tender effect too. But wait a second, there's something odd here in volume 8: tracks B1 and B2 are discoish funk, from something called the Soul Philadelphia Orchestra-- what are they doing in there? Well, how about devoting a record to the 'Sound of Philadelphia' in the April Orch franchise? Better yet, why not give them a whole bunch of records? (Volumes 17-19) At this point I seriously started to wonder who was directing this series, if perhaps, overconsumption of such substances as were commonly abused back then had led to some very odd decisions...
Roughly the same team returns in Vol. 9, including, obviously, C. Lara (how could you think you would escape her, she's like your crazy ex-girlfriend stalking you everywhere) but the compositions are again superior and occasionally top-notch with just that little bit more inventiveness you'd expect from a franchise that by now had to have accumulated at least a bit of experience. Or did they? How about following number 9 with a volume 10 devoted to the 18th century renaissance composer Jean-Philippe Rameau about "Les Indes Galantes?" This particular volume is not yet ripped and I sincerely pray it never will be.
Consider 9's track A3 Capharnaüm which was written by Lara and Alain Lacaux; doesn't it sound exactly like it could be one of Jean-Luc Chevalier's wonderful compositions:
And with that suspenseful end let's set aside the A.O. until we move on to the Volumes 11 to 30 series next week (there are many left unripped in those twenty, evidently for very good reasons, so I don't have more than half)-- expecting of course many surprises along the way by this ship drifting without a rudder or a steersman or even a hull...
In the meantime, enjoy the complete Volumes 1 to 9 which do indeed have a number of surprising delights.