Let me blurt this out   in the first  sentence of this  review; no offense to  all concerned,  but  I  am  not  a fan of  rock musicians raiding the popular composers of yesteryear to `modify' classical  compositions  with modern flairs, interpretations, or instrumentation.  This genre has been  played out out quite  a  lot in the last  20  years, (in particular Rick Wakeman),  but after  20  albums worth of  diverse music, Les Frandkin has dived into this genre in his latest  album- Baroque Rocks!

On the album, Fradkin's  expertise on the Starr Labs Ztar Midi Guitar, is simply brilliant  with an added  dash of  amazing.  He used  the Midi guitar to  simulate   fantastic keyboard and orchestral sounds while   providing solid percussion;  added with his flawless technique,  Les has created  another winning disc.  

Baroque Rocks!  definitely pays a huge homage  to  Antonio Vivaldi. The first  track begins  with the opening movement of the ninth concerto of Opus 8.  As with most of the tracks, Les plays it rather straight and  sticks with the compositional building blocks of the music, but the Mellotron and  harpsichord and  percussion, give it  a new take; surprisingly,  I was hooked with this   excellent new interpretation.

The majority of Vivaldi's ‘The Four Seasons’  makes up tracks 4 through 7.  Aside from the opening track, this  is   my  personal favorite part of the album.  Fradkin  varies the illustrative sounds that   Vivaldi composed with  the addition  his signature digital effects and technique.  In the  ‘Winter’  section, Fradkin keeps it  closer to  the great  composer by his use of harpsichord sounds.

Mason Williams’ ‘Classical Gas,’ Pachelbel’s ‘Canon,’ and Handel are all  Fradkin-ized on the album, the former utilizing some killer  synth sounds.   But after listening to 2/3s  of  Baroque Rocks! , besides the high quality masterly of the instrumentation,  a subtle sameness to  the approach slightly overpowered even Fradkin's   expertise. But  again, this might be  due  to  my  bias in the above  opening statement. Too much of  a good  thing?  Or not enough variety in  the  composer's and song choices?  Difficult  to  say.

Baroque Rocks! is like having the Boston Pops  married  with  Yngwie Malmsteen's technique, and  clever digital trappings that  make it  very enjoyable.    I  was happily surprised how Les approached  the  body of work, adding his mastery (and  digital spin), without  venturing into  corny or hokey territory.  By the way,  production quality is very good.

I would consider this one of the best classical  homage albums done by  a rocker. If this is your bag, this  a  definite must  buy.   But  as a  progrocker, I  would have  loved to  have Les used a few more dynamic  composers that  would have  fit  into    a more proggy motif.   Still, Les clearly shows a deep love  for the  Baroque Classical  composers, and this fondness definitely is contagious to this listener. Nice job.

Album Art is  a simple photo portrait of  Les.  Sigh.  

Rating  8.9   (If you are a hardcore or experimental prog fans, you  need not apply.  Grading  is entirely subjective).

Baroque Rocks!  by Les  Fradkin