Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Three Classic Records I Never Heard of

I've had a lot of those experiences lately where I wonder if I am dreaming or hallucinating them. Like the other day when I was driving by a hotrod shop/junkyard in the mountains that had a sign up advertising a concert.(my dream venue since watching Fat Albert) or when I first turned on the Chilton Talentmaker and wondered when I would start hearing the annoying beep of my alarm clock to wake me up from what was, in all honesty, one of the happiest moments of my life.
I picked up three records the other day from a super, super cheap thrift store, who mysteriously charged me 16 cents for them(do the math, how?). They were:
Hugo Montenegro Interprets the Genius of Stevie Wonder: Hugo in Wonder-Land
This record occupies a weird space in between prog-rock, jazz, Stevie Wonder, and moog records. That's no easy feat, and the record has its share of problems with pacing, most of which originate from the issue of having to make vocal pop songs into non-boring instrumentals. A lot of vocal pop is very repetitive, with the lyrics being enough of a driving element to hold the song together through repetition. Try making an instrumental of Heard it Through the Grapevine some time if you want to understand. So things get a little aimless, and a little too long in places. But this record is well worth your time if you are a fan of Moog records, because its sound is much, much more contemporary than any other Moog record I've heard. "Shoo-Bee-Doo-Bee-Doo-Da-Day" is the highlight- the "vocals" are just too much to miss. Lots of good ARP sounds on the record, and lots of good sample and hold work.

Ferrante and Teicher: How High the Moon
I'll confess to not being the best read on F&T. I know from years of digging through thrift store bins that they sold more records of their type than almost anybody, and that most of them are complete fluff- by my standards. But if this record is any indication, I should have been paying more attention. This is a much, much stranger record than the minimal Pickwick, public domain image cover would indicate. In fact, the only thing that attracted me to this record was the space theme. This record was an unexpected mix of tape loops, prepared piano, and the standard F&T fluff. Just imagine trying to make that concept sound normal while you cover The Mood was Yellow. The song is absolutely, positively one of the most interesting covers of one of my favorite pieces of music ever. A strange tape loop of pizzicato strings and tacked piano and whatever sounds a lot like a synth with a tuned resonant filter on noise.
Supersonics in Flight: Billy Mure:
I bought this because I thought it might be a teen beat record, and it mostly is. The rest is pretty flat, but the guitar tone is worth listening to. It's a good thing that Billy Mure's guitar and amplifier are "specially modified to produce extreme highs." There's a tagline you won't be hearing much on today's records.
But who cares about today's records.

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