I’m a pretty measured sort of guy, none of that wild spontaneous nonsense for me – nope, I get my kicks from drawing up lists and ticking things off one-by-one in accordance with a bunch of arbitrary rules. Born to be mild. I could tell you what colour socks I was wearing when I bought most of the 1537, but for some reason I genuinely don’t have a clue where/when/how, or indeed why I bought Dick Hyman Moog: The Electric Eclectics Of Dick Hyman*; the sticker says it entered my world on 13 June 2008. It’s a relic from 1969 in absolutely mint condition, which I assume I bought 50% for kitsch value and 50% just because I love the word Moog.
Okay so the gloriously amateurish spacey cover didn’t hurt on the old purchase front and neither did the fact that the opening track is called ‘The Topless Dancers of Corfu’*^. Now as you know, here at 1537 I actively encourage self-expression in the name of personal, political and spiritual emancipation; should that self-expression just happen to involve partial disrobing and gyrating to groovy sounds then so be it. Sadly there are no risqué pictures in the gatefold, just Mr Hyman Magritte-ing all over the place in his natty suit. I did shake my own man boobs to it just now, but I don’t find that so alluring a prospect for some reason.
On one level I appreciate this record, you can hear Mr Hyman** really exploring the synth and revelling in all its sheer FUTUROSITYNESS, all those tones and timbres that don’t sound like anything else. As the sleevenotes state,
‘The future comes vividly alive in the grooves of this record because Dick Hyman, Command Records and the Moog synthesizer play it not like it is, but like it will be’
I enjoy the sleevenotes enthusing about the ‘robot drummer’ built into the Moog, containing such wild rhythmic craziness as go-go, boogaloo, fox trot and, wonder of all wonders, samba. As a man from the future, relatively speaking, I’d just like to patronisingly say ‘that’s sweet’.
You can hear all that interstellar grooviness and far be it from me to criticise a venerable and highly feted original with a 50+ year career behind him, but it doesn’t quite wash. In light jazz/light classical/light pop circles Moog may well have been the exciting sound of the future, but this was 1969 there were pop and rock musos using and incorporating these sounds into their music to great effect; just look at everything that was percolating in Germany at the time, ready to go over ground in the next year or two.
The most recognizable bit for a modern listener is the intro to ‘The Moog And Me’ which Beck sampled to great effect as the intro to ‘Sissyneck’. The best track is ‘The Minotaur’ where the Moog’s space tones and rhythm track all hit the right spot and it all coalesces into the Space Age Bachelor Pad Music^ that the whole LP aims to be. Much of the rest has some kitsch value but there are only a limited number of times you can be arsed enough to listen to, what sounds like the greatest hits of an infinite number of chimps given an infinite number of Moogs. However as the overly earnest sleevenotes say, particularly when quoted out of context by cynical 21st Century fools,
‘That’s one of the chances you take with the music of tomorrow’
*henceforth to be known as Moog.
*^I don’t remember that from My Family & Other Animals, I must re-read it.
**I don’t feel I quite know him well enough to call him Dick.
^to steal from, the mighty, Stereolab.