Moog synthesizer, named for its inventor Robert Moog, debuted in 1967
and among the first records to take advantage of the otherwordly sounds
it produced were by the duo Perrey & Kingsley and - believe it or not! - The Monkees
(Micky Dolenz bought one of the very first units). But arguably the
most fluid performer on the instrument was Dick Hyman, a jazz pianist
who specialized in classic early styles (Jelly Roll Morton and such)
who later added Lowry organ to his repetoire before getting his hands
on a Moog. In 1969, Hyman released two classic "moogsploitation"
albums, a subgenre that existed for a few years in which popular tunes
of the day (Beatles, Joni, etc.) were rendered on the new synthesizer.
In large part, the success of Hyman's albums were what drove this trend
(also the million-selling Switched-On Bach by Walter (Wendy) Carlos). However, Electric Eclectics
actually features original tunes (and some multi-tracked improvisation)
by Hyman, and it includes pop tunes that are quite catchy ("The Moog
And Me", memorably sampled on one of Beck's 90's hits) and freaked out
grooviness (the unlikely hit single "The Minotaur" which points the way
towards Kraftwerk and krautrock). At the same time, Hyman was also
grooving the moog (and his other keyboards) on classic easy listening
albums by Enoch Light & The Light Brigade.
In Japanese pop music news this week, here's two groups I haven't
played on the show before: Perfume have just released a new album
called Future Pop with a terrific title track (written and arranged by Yasutaka Nakata), and Tricot is an indie rock band with an interesting angular jazzoid guitar sound.
- Dick Hyman "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman" 1969 (USA)
joined this legendary space rock band in 1972 and made them heavier.
Hawkwind was already one of the hairiest, scariest hippy bands in
England, notorious for copious LSD, sci-fi themes, and naked dancers at
their shows. Their first album with Lem (third overall) was recorded
incredibly cheaply, but the flat, compressed sound seems to point the
way towards "post-punk." The first side of the record is almost
entirely taken up by one of their most classic jam duets comprised of
"Master Of The Universe" and "Space Is Deep." Side two is pretty strong
as well, including more classics from their repetoire "Lord Of Light"
and "Time We Left This World Today." The concluding track is Lemmy's
first composition for the band "The Watcher" which has doom-laden
lyrics but is sort of a psychedelic acoustic guitar ballad! But don't
worry, he remade that song in a totally metal fashion on the debut
album of his next band Motorhead in 1977.
- Hawkwind "Doremi Fasol Latido" 1972 (UK)
RTF was one of the top fusion groups of the fusion era, right up there with Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report. Founded by keyboardist Chick Corea (who, like all famous jazz guys, played with Miles Davis),
arguably the most legendary lineup of the group was the quartet that
recorded this week's CAOTW. Joining Corea are legendary bassist Stanley
Clarke and unsung great drummer Lenny White, plus 21 year-old phenom Al
Di Meola on guitar. The four of them together make an enormous sound
and the music is almost absurdly complex: this is one of those jazz
fusion records which fits right into the progressive rock world. In
fact, parts of it (in particular Di Meola's tune "Majestic Dance")
sound a lot like Frank Zappa's extremely complex small band arrangements of the 70's.
- Return To Forever "Romantic Warrior" 1976 (USA)
Also on the show this week: the roots of my favorite new Japanese rock singer/rapper, Haru Nemuri! "Inochine Natte"
was her first "breakthrough" song (though at only about 80,000 youtube
views globally in a little over a year it's not exactly what you'd call
a hit), and "HELLO @ NEW WORLD" is a non-album single from later in 2017. On the opposite end of the musical spectrum, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's happy new album Japamyu is due later this month and is sure to sell billions of copies.
did this band not have any classic albums before now? My favorite Tull
record is their second; they began as a weird blues band and eventually
turned into one of the most popular prog rock bands from Britain (thee
lande of ye progge rocke). A neo-folky heavy blues band led by a
maniacal flute player notorious for wearing a codpiece on stage, Jethro
Tull was a band with few peers. Though in the late 60's apparently
Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band
were convinced JT was ripping off their blues weirdness (and having
tremendously more commercial success at it). Like Beefheart, Tull had a
resident "genius" who wrote all their words and music, the zany
flautist Ian Anderson. He's a very original songwriter who came up with
some very interesting and unforgettable riffs ("Aqualung"!), though as
a flute player he was always straight up ripping off the brilliant Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
- Jethro Tull "Stand Up" 1969 (UK)
In Japanese rock news, Haru Nemuri released a new (neo-grunge rock?) single "Kick In The World" this week (that's an actor singing in the video - she did not get a haircut as you can see from this awesome set recorded live in Japan last month), and the release date for Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's fourth album Japamyu is set for September! Finally, here's a live clip of my favorite Kyary anthem "Mondai Girl" with English subtitles.
Ralf Hutter turns 72 this week; before he and his partner Florian Schneider founded Kraftwerk and perfected "electronic pop",
they made this jammy experimental album. Organisation was a large group
featuring tons of percussion instruments and a "world music" flavor,
and their sole album was released very early during the first wave of
the "krautrock" era (I think only Can and Amon Duul II
had albums out before them). Needless to say, it was not a big seller
at the time, and Kraftwerk have famously disavowed all of their albums prior to Autobahn (the first three and the Organisation album have never officially been reissued, though they are much bootlegged.)
- Organisation "Tone Float" 1970 (Germany)
Also on the show this week: here's clips from a bunch more of them Japanese ladies! KOM_I, the funky cool queen from Wednesday Campanella! Far East Mention Mannequins, or FEMM,
are a pair of "living mannequins" who may be too American for the
Japanese market and vice versa, but their music is quite interesting
"progressive electronic pop." Of course those cute kids from BABYMETAL, who are the most globally popular Japanese band of this decade. Karassu Wa Masshiro
means "A Crow Is White", and they seem to be a funky "indie rock" type
band, famous for their animated videos. Then of course there's Haru and Kyary!
obscure classic for sure, hipped to me by a listener request. William
"Buzzy" Linhart was a childhood vibraphone prodigy who moved to NYC in
the early sixties and roomed with John Sebastian of Loving Spoonful
(and "Welcome Back Kotter" theme), and played gigs with Fred Neil
(author of Nilsson's classic "Everybody's Talkin'"). From there he went
on to play with Seventh Sons, one of the first raga-rock bands who
released an album on the weird ESP label, followed by a series of
five obscure solo albums between 1969 and 1974 (while also having a bit
of success as a TV and movie actor typecast in "hippie" roles).
Also: he co-wrote "You've Got To Have Friends" which is Bette Midler's
theme song! This week's classic album is probably the best of his solo
LP's, being a lovely concoction of Tin Pan Alley, folk, country, blues,
jazz, psychedelia, raga/world music, and some heavy jams. A charming
enough singer who wrote catchy tunes, above all Buzzy seems to be a
"musician's musician" -- why he even recruited Skunk Baxter from The Dan of Steel to play on his 1972 Buzzy album (the same year as their debut album)!
- Buzzy Linhart "Music" 1970 (USA)
On another topic, my two favorite Japanese
dames! Representing the two poles of contemporary J-Pop: the
overwhelming cuteness of Kyary and the dark catharsis of Haru!
is Jerry Garcia's 76th birthday, so I figured it's time for another
classic album by The Dead. They were one of the great live bands of all
time, but their success at making studio albums was very hit or miss.
In particular, they rarely achieved the psychedelic majesty they were
famous when they weren't on stage. So I think their most classic albums
are their first three live albums, and their second "studio" album
which was largely edited together from concert recordings (though the
Official History of Rock says it would be their two best-selling albums
from 1970, which I have not made classic albums because Workingman's and Beauty represent the lighter side of the Dead; basically sounds like CSN).
In particular, I think their studio LPs from 1973-1980 are particularly
dull, with one interesting exception: this week's Classic Blues for Allah.
The title track is their most out-there progadelic epic (much more
interesting than the orchestrated sidelong suite about turtles on their
next studio LP), and this record also added a couple of classics to
their concert repetoire: the jazz raga "Help On The Way/Slipnot!" and
endless groover "Franklin's Tower".
- Grateful Dead "Blues For Allah" 1975 (USA)
a bit surprised this record wasn't a classic album sooner, since it is
arguably the greatest "space age bachelor pad" or "turned-on easy
listening" album of all time. Enoch Light was a primarily a producer
known for super hi-fidelity recordings (including extreme stereo
effects), and his band The Light Brigade was basically studio musicians
featuring guest appearances from other artists (usually
instrumentalists) affiliated with Enoch's Project 3 record label. On
this particular LP, the Brigade includes Dick Hyman on moog synthesizer
(I'm also surprised I haven't given him a classic album yet), The Free Design
on vocals, and Tony Motolla on guitar: in other words an all-star easy
listening orchestra! Plus in the style of the times it is kind of a
concept album: all the songs are by Burt Bacharach, The Beatles or
Johann Sebastian Bach (the 3 B's). Back in 1969, youth counterculture
types (hippies) probably thought this was the most horrible
commercialization imaginable, but today it sounds more sixties than the
sixties probably really were (if Austin Powers didn't shag to this
soundtrack in the movies, he could have).
- Enoch Light & The Light Brigade "Spaced Out" 1969 (USA)
Also on the show this week: further down the rabbit-holes of J-pop and "weird girl" pop with Scottish futurist Sophie, Wednesday Campanella (Japanese oral folklore styles mixed with rapping and house-y dance music), Haru Namuri (the J-pop anti-idol: brooding art punk with dissonant guitars), and another "wake up kawaii" session with Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (this video from 5 years ago celebrates her reaching the legal drinking age in Japan, which is 20).