Dick Hyman Moog: The Eclectic Electrics of Dick Hyman
Perrey & Kingsley The In Sound From Way Out
The Essential Perrey & Kingsley
Synthesizer records have a bad rep--especially the early ones, which mostly took the future-Muzak approach to everything from classical music (Switched-On Bach) to pop (The In Sound From Way Out) in order to provide that much-in-demand Jetsons vibe for our parents' late '60s-early '70s dinner parties. But now that rockers and ravers alike are renewing our romance with wheezy analog keyboards, it's possible to hear these old records with something like new ears, and surprisingly enough, they don't all suck.
Hot on the heels of the 32-page cover story on Moog music in last winter's Grand Royal (the über-zine of wanna-b-boy style and stoner groove music produced by Beastie Boys Inc.) comes Moog, the CD reissue of Dick Hyman's primo transistor jams. It features the 1969 LP of the same name, plus three songs from the cover-heavy follow-up The Age of Electronicus. I especially dig "The Minotaur," which the copywriter claims hit No. 38 on the pop charts; I'll take her word for it, though I can't imagine this workout--a Keith Emerson-style improv over a Maestro Rhythmaster drum machine track far funkier than anything Carl Palmer ever managed--making it into commercial rotation anywhere anytime. Cooler still is the white-noise-laced cover of James Brown's "Give It Up Or Turn It Loose," which pits a jazz drummer against said Rhythmaster for what turns out to be a draw.
First released in 1966, The In Sound From Way Out is a pre-Moog electronica record full of blips, skronks, corny animal sound effects, and heisted commercial jingle melodies. It's nothing that pop-collagist elders Carl Stalling, Spike Jones, or Raymond Scott didn't do better, although the familiarity of these tune-ettes (mainly from TV soundtracks) might provide some generation-specific pleasure. Better to find The Essential Perrey & Kingsley, a retrospective that includes all of The In Sound plus some later Moog-powered tracks. Among them is a blink-and-you-miss-it medley of Jobim's "One Note Samba" (which inspired Stereolab's cover on the recent Red Hot + Rio) and the admittedly annoying "Spanish Flea." There's also the cacophonous "Third Man Theme," which may feature the first vinyl scratching ever committed to record. To be honest, the sounds on these CDs are often more engaging than their context. So attention DJs and sample fiends: We await your input. (Will Hermes)