5/2/12

Vinyl Dynamite #38: In the Moog


My favorite moog moments would have to be "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" by The Beatles, "Daily Nightly" by The Monkees, and the Beethoven stuff from A Clockwork Orange.  These standouts aside, there was a lot of good mooging going on in the sixties and seventies.  In this post, I've got some wicked moogs for your listening pleasure that you may have not heard before.

I don't know about you, but I love the moog.  There's something about it - it can sound lonely and somewhat creepy, but then it can also be fun. There's a cheesy Commodore 64 vibe, but at the same time it doesn't sound out of place in a dead serious acid house track. But who really knows why we like the sounds we do - even the great George Martin struggled to answer this question.  The fact is, the moog can be damn pleasing to the ear, and here's some of my favorite off-the-beaten-path samples.

Martin Denny - Midnight Cowboy

The Midnight Cowboy theme is haunting enough; but, when done by the soulless moog, it's even more despairing.

Claude Dejean - Sugar, Sugar

This 1970 ditty is pretty sub-standard; however, it does have its moments - especially in the "when I kiss your lips" segments.  Plus, it tries out a variety of moog sounds through the course of the song - so, points for effort.

Fred Wesley and the JBs - Blow Your Head

Wesley could drop some serious funk back in the seventies (heading up James Brown's band).  When he got a hold of a moog in the early seventies, he made it his bitch and put out some dirty booger nose funk the likes of which the world had never seen.

Perrey & Kingsley - Computers in Love

In the sixties, you had a lot of stuff like this meant exclusively for that swingin' bachelor pad royale. Hi-Fidelity space-age coolness, baby.  Groovy.

Rudy Ray Moore - Moog Interlude (The Human Tornado Soundtrack)

The song actually sucks, but earns a spot because its a moog song in a blaxsploitation movie - and that's gotta count for something.

Ken & the New Establishment - Soul Moog

This 1973 track has an uber-cool reggae vibe.  This is exactly what a VIC-20 would sound like if it smoked weed.

9 comments:

  1. Here in Asheville we have the moog museum...you should check it out.

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  2. AnonymousMay 02, 2012

    Gilligan-

    I love Perrey&Kingsley, but that jam ALSO links to Fred Wesley and the JB's. Please fix!

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    1. Fixed. Thanks for letting me know.

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  3. The one album of my parents that I remember and can't find is a Moog album. Makes me very sad. Every other album of theirs, but that one is missing.

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  4. AnonymousMay 03, 2012

    I liked the Ken & the New Establishment song,it had a nice reggae groove.The Computers in Love track was cute,and sounded like it could've been from a cartoon.The JBs rocked the house,I was shakin' my rump to the funk of the cyberjunk.The Midnight Cowboy was hauntingly pretty and kept things nice and moody.Sugar Sugar sounded like department store musak,and the interlude sounded like an old video game soundtrack.Todd Rundgren and Stevie Wonder were pioneers of using synthesizers,especially Moogs on yheir records.I like Breathless from Rundgren's Something/Anything? LP,and Flamingo on his A Wizard,A True Star album too. Budd

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  5. My favorite has to be the Perrey & Kingsley Computers in Love....who knew computers could sound so sexy!!

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  6. Oddly enough, I put on that exact same outfit whenever I listened to MOOG music in the 70s. Never was a big MOOG fan. It seemed to "pure." Just the basic not and not a melody.
    Thank you for the posts however. You are right, theses stink.

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    1. Apparently parts of Bowie's long-awaited autobio have been leaked, and one section is devoted to the minimoog:

      "Eno gifted this keyboard to me at the end of our sessions for the album that would become Low at the Chateau d’Herouville in the fall of 1976.

      The tilting control panel is truly iconic, the wood finish superb, the feel of the dials top-notch, and the 44-key (F to C) keyboard is a delight — it certainly beats any vintage Model D I’ve played for both speed and responsiveness. Though it weighs in at a hefty18kg, its ergonomics are quite superlative. At its inception, the Minimoog was surprisingly close to being the perfect solo synthesizer; indeed there’s arguably no serious rival for the role even today. Yet soloists demand to express themselves and there the Mini had obvious shortcomings: its keyboard lacks velocity and aftertouch, while the pitch-bender and modulation wheels never felt like the final word in performance control. Nevertheless, without becoming lost in the enigma that is the Minimoog, let’s agree that it must have possessed special qualities to set it apart from the crowd for so long — even from others in the Moog stable.

      Moog had constructed his own theremin as early as 1948. Later he illustrated the mechanics of a theremin in the hobbyist magazine ‘Electronics World’ and offered the parts in kit form by mail order which became very successful, albeit of limited value to even the most esoteric composers. The Moog synthesizer, on the other hand, was one of the very first electronic musical instruments to be widely used across many popular genres. I only met Bob Moog on one occasion and we bonded not over music, but over the common mispronunciation of our respective surnames. Bob always pronounced his surname – and that of his eponymous electronic progeny – to rhyme with ‘vogue’.

      The motifs for all of the instrumental sequences on Low were mapped out on this Minimoog. My fading memories of those sessions are dominated by images of Eno hunched over the keyboard turning dials by imperceptible fractions, as amazed and delighted by the sonic textures he was producing as were Tony V and myself:

      “Do you know it has a logarithmic one volt-per-octave pitch control and a separate pulse-triggering signal?” said Eno, breathlessly.

      I said, “Brian, if you hum it, I’ll sing it…”

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  7. The moog photo shots, black and white, dials and gizmos, the patchcords cables a 1930's movie switchboard gigeresque mess of tangled extension cords plugged into esoteric crannies. that was a lot of the appeal for me

    when switched on bach came out i wanted to be like walter carlos then he switched on to wendy carlos and my idol worship became confused

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