Wednesday, 30 January 2019

PANCY LAU (劉鳳屏) "快回頭望一望" (EP, 1969)



Pancy Lau (Lau Fung Ping, 劉鳳屏 or 刘鳳屏, also referred to as Liu Feng Ping) was born sometimes in the late 40s / early 50s in a family of musicians; her father Lau Bak Lok (劉伯樂) - also known as Tin Ngai (天涯) - was a well-known Cantonese Opera Star. He was her very first music teacher, and guided her through the entertainment world.

Her career started when she was around 8 or 9 years old singing Cantonese Opera. As a teenager she transitioned to singing songs she enjoyed: Pop music. During the early 60s she participated two times in the Sing Tao Daily Singing Competition in Hong Kong with no significant results.

In 1965 at last she won the Mandarin section of the 6th edition of the contest with the song "三年" (Three Years). Upon winning the competition, she became a resident singer at the prestigious Golden Crown Night Club (金冠).

Television Broadcasts Limited (電視廣播有限公司), commonly known as TVB, commenced broadcasting in Hong Kong on 19 November 1967. Pancy Lau was one of the first musical artists who participated in the popular show "歡樂今宵" (Enjoy Yourself Tonight), which was the longest running variety show in Hong Kong's television history.

In 1968 Fung Hang Records released her debut album entitled "My Heart Is Beating - 我的心蹦蹦跳". The album was the first in a long series of recordings that continued for more than fifteen years.



Following two EPs entitled "水長流" ("Water Flows Long") and "山前山後百花开" ("When the Flowers Bloom On Mount Qian Shan"), Pancy Lau's second album was finally published in late 1969. "快回頭望一望" ("Quickly Take a Look Behind"), contained twelve songs, including the eight tracks already released on her previous EPs.

The record was a huge success with no less than four editions published - and sometimes also bootlegged - by different labels in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. At the time, a lot of popular music was coming from being featured on television or were theme songs from television drama series. The album, however, did not need any push from the media to become an instant hit, as it contained enough fresh material to estabilish itself as a modern classic.

For a more detailed biography of Pancy Lau, please have a look at this other post of mine: "The Very Best of Pancy Lau Volume 1 [1968-70]".


Pancy Lau, circa 1969


Here's the track list for this 7" EP:

01. 快回頭望一望 (2:55)
02. 姑娘的心意 (2:01)
03. 不如不嫁了 (2:17)
04. 爲甚麽 (2:04)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in January 2019 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with scans of the original item.

Please have a look at the comments for the download link.



As I already wrote many times, it's not easy to come up with an exact chronology of Pancy Lau's early output, but since the first owner of the EP that is on offer in this post has written a purchase date on the back cover (27-12-69), I can confirm that this particular record was released in 1969, probably towards the end of the year.

All the songs on this EP were included on Pancy's second album "快回頭望一望" ("Quickly Take a Look Behind"), and two of them were also previously included on her debut single back in 1968... Since this EP was released on Life Records (麗風) in Malaysia, it is my opinion that it was aimed at the local market to help popularize Pancy Lau outside of Hong Kong during the 'Mandarin Pop phase' of her career.

I can't tell if this is a rare release but, as a matter of fact, her singles released on Life Records (麗風) have been more difficult to obtain, at least for me, than those on Fung Hang Records Co. (風行). As a trivia, please allow me to tell you that I purchased this single from a Mexican record shop and it is probably one of the records in my collection that has travelled the most!

All music on this release is played by 太陽神樂隊 (The Apollo), an Hong Kong prolific studio band that reached a cult status in the region during the late 60s / early 70s. Their name has probably been borrowed from the Teisco / Kawai manufactured Apollo model guitar from that time period. They recorded a lot of instrumental albums, a few of them for New Wave Record Co. (新風) - which are also on offer here on Stereo Candies - and most of them for Life Records (麗風); they were also featured as a backing band on countless releases by popular singers like Teresa Teng (鄧麗君), Frances Yip (葉麗儀), Stella Chee(奚秀蘭), etc.



Oscar Young (楊道火) and Joseph Koo (顧嘉煇) are both credited as arrangers, respectively for tracks 1 and 4 (Young), and 2 and 3 (Koo).

Young was a key-figure in the Hong Kong music scene of the late 60s / early 70s; with his arrangements he also had the merit to introduce and popularise Classical music to the younger generations. He arranged for many famous bands and singers and released countless albums with his prolific and versatile projects The Apollo (太陽神樂隊) and Oscar Orchestra (奧斯卡管弦樂團).

Koo was also a famous composer and arranger, and one of the most respected authors of Cantopop songs; he is considered the Godfather of Hong Kong pop music. During his career he has created more than 1.200 original compositions and many of them have become classics, including various themes of popular TV series.

Here's what I discovered searching information about the songs included on this EP:

"快回頭望一望" (Quickly Take a Look Behind), which was also Pancy Lau's second album title track, is one of her signature songs written by 湮亭 (Yan Ting). During the years it has been covered many times and has become a karaoke classic.

"姑娘的心意" (A Maiden's Heart) is an adaptation, with lyrics by 湮亭 (Yan Ting), of a song imported from Japan. The original was popularized by 美空ひばり (Misora Hibari) and the Mandarin version was also successfully performed by 張露 (Chang Loo).

"不如不嫁了" (How About I Don't Get Married) seems to be an original composition and I wasn't able to find any other information about it, except the name of its authors: lyrics by 馮美葆 (Feng Mei Bao) and music by 曹嘈 (Cao Cao).

I guess that "為甚麽" (Why?) is probably another original composition written by 湮亭 (Yan Ting), sorry but I wasn't able to find any other relevant information about it....


The following clips offer a complete preview of the remastered EP, enjoy!










More information about Pancy Lau is available here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_of_Hong_Kong

http://home.ied.edu.hk/~hkpop/music/hkpophistory.html

http://www.goldenage.hk/b5/ga/ga_article.php?article_id=1079

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dk_gilbert/sets/72157608139056712/

http://paper.wenweipo.com/2007/04/21/EN0704210024.htm

http://blog.roodo.com/muzikland/archives/2578425.html

http://baike.baidu.com/view/5637119.htm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-uAR5gOXNg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtPVPIy6v6s

http://robokon.orgfree.com/5080/5080_LauFungPing.htm

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/%E5%8A%89%E9%B3%B3%E5%B1%8F

http://hk.apple.nextmedia.com/entertainment/art/20130325/18206169

http://sleepless.chiba78.com/articles-1640.html

I'm currently trying to compile a Pancy Lau exhaustive discography, my work-in-progress is available here.

All my posts dedicated to Pancy Lau are available here.


Friday, 21 December 2018

FERRANTE & TEICHER "ADVENTURE IN CAROLS" (1956)

«What other duo-pianist can boast that they have played together since the age of six? Arthur Ferrante and Louis Teicher were fellow prodigies at New York’s famous Juilliard School of Music, and even while students they appeared as a team. After graduation they gave a few joint recitals, then decided to take time out to prepare a really distinctive repertoire. Together they returned to Juilliard, this time as fellow members of the faculty, and spent all their spare hours for the next year or so working over the standard pieces and cleansing them of every last hackneyed cliché. Their professional debut as a team took place quite a distance from the concert hall, for they bowed in as a popular piano duo at New York’s sophisticated penthouse night club, Spivy’s Roof. They were such a hit with the starlight crowd that they went on to more cosmopolitan boites like the Blue Angel, the Little Club and the Ritz-Carlton Terrace. Since 1947 they have been crisscrossing the country annually, winning laurels everywhere for what The New York Times called their "prodigious technical feats." Radio and television audiences know them for their guest stints on Piano Playhouse, and the Firestone, Telephone, and Carnation hours...They have also appeared with leading symphony orchestras throughout the country. Their gift for blending the classic with the modern and the "heavy" with the "light", their extraordinary sensitivity, their technical perfection — these are just a few of the reasons why one stern Manhattan critic, echoing the national consensus, called Ferrante and Teicher "the most exciting piano team of our time".»

[from "Adventure in Carols" liner notes]



Here we are again, approaching that particular time of the year when we all become good and exchange gifts... Even though I don't have a 'rule' to post a Christmas record every month of December, this time it's my pleasure to introduce a masterpiece by Ferrante & Teicher which has never been re-issued on CD, and whose digital version available on the market comes with no less than an indecent amount of clicks, crackles and even... skips!!! And what other month would suit better an album titled "Adventure in Carols"?

For this remaster I also ventured in a territory in which I'm still experimenting to find my way: the 'simulated stereo' effect. In some of the most recent posts I already offered a few pseudo-stereo tracks derived from original mono recordings, but for this post I decided to process the entire album.

Basically, I tweaked the Eq of the left and right channels and used the differences between them to assign different pan positions to certain groups of frequencies. As I said, I'm still in an early stage and I would like to know your sincere opinion, so don't be shy and let your comments flow!


Some quite rare and particular releases are going to be featured on the blog in 2019, I will try to post at least one record every month and I beg you to believe that I really can't do better than this. I also have a couple of requests to honour and I'll try my best to keep my word as usual.

If you enjoy what you read and/or listen on these pages, then please let me know about it: leave a comment or get in touch, my e-mail address is written at the bottom of each post.

Have fun and a Merry Christmas! Now let's move on to Ferrante & Teicher and their immensely creative "Adventure in Carols"!



The following biography was created comparing the most relevant information available on the pages dedicated to Ferrante & Teicher hosted on AllMusic, Amoeba Music, ferranteandteicher.info, Space Age Pop and Wikipedia.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Arthur Ferrante (September 7, 1921, New York City - September 19, 2009, Longboat Key, Florida) and Louis Teicher (August 24, 1924, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania - August 3, 2008, Highlands, North Carolina) met while attending the prestigious Juilliard School of Music; both were child prodigies, and they struck up a fast friendship, performing together as a duo even while they were still in school.

After graduating as piano majors, by 1943 they both joined the Juilliard faculty, while developing a distinctive style of their own during their spare time. In 1947, they became a full-time concert act, at first playing nightclubs, then quickly moving up to classical music with orchestral backing. A switch to popular songs and standards by the likes of Kern, Porter, Gershwin, and Rodgers made them mainstays in the pops-orchestra field.

At the same time, they began experimenting with modifications to pianos, inserting objects into the string beds, striking keys or strings with blocks, and generally striving to figure out how to get the strangest possible sounds. By adding paper, sticks, rubber, metal bars, chains, glass, mallets, and other found objects, the duo was able to produce a variety of bizarre sound effects that sometimes resembled percussion instruments, and other times produced an outworldly and dreamy, almost electronic sound well before synthesizers were commonly used in recordings. The treated piano works of John Cage influenced their early work, but they had their own unique sound.

Here's how the pair described this musical transition: «...it was while teaching that we began experimenting and creating new material for two pianos. For novelty numbers we stuffed wads of paper, sticks, rubber stops, masonite strips, cardboard wedges, and sandpaper into the pianos conjuring up weird effects (a la [John] Cage) resembling gongs, castanets, drums, xylophone, and harpsichord. Though we have gradually dropped many of these gimmicks, we feel that we have developed a musical style, and undoubtedly play in a manner that makes some former colleagues at Juilliard wince a bit.»

However innovative and exciting their work was, it was tough to translate into commercial success. Their concerts were as likely to be held in gymnasiums, churches, cafeterias, and ballparks, as in concert halls. Much of what they earned went into new motors for their delivery truck. «If our wives hadn't worked,» Teicher once said, «we never could have survived...»


Some tracks from "Adventure in Carols" were previously released on "Xmas Hi-Fivories"... (front cover)

People who associate Ferrante & Teicher only with the Easy Listening music they produced from the early '60s onwards, are often startled to hear their prepared piano works of the '50s. There is nothing quite like them in the annals of recorded sounds. In fact, throughout this period, the duo was accused of using more than just pianos to generate these sounds, and they had to produce the following affadavit to convince Columbia Records before the label released their first single:

«Divers persons upon hearing records of "Susanna's Last Stand" and "Caravan" and subsequent recordings by Ferrante and Teicher have asserted, implied or otherwise made known that such recordings were made by the use of various sundry instruments other than two pianos. Upon our solemn oath and undertaking we hereby assert, acknowledge, testify and state without equivocation or fear of contradiction that the only instruments played by Ferrante and Teicher in connection with the recordings of such compositions were two pianos. - Howard Scott and David Oppenheim, 24 Dec 1952.»

Among the twenty or so albums that the duo recorded until 1960, it is worth mentioning at least those that are entirely comprised of prepared piano pieces, here'a list: "Hi-Fireworks" (Columbia, 1953), "Xmas Hi-Fivories" (Westminster, 1954), "Soundproof" (Westminster, 1956), "Soundblast" (Westminster, 1956), "Adventure in Carols" (Westminster, 1956), "Heavenly Sounds in Hi-Fi" (ABC-Paramount, 1957), "Ferrante and Teicher With Percussion" (ABC-Paramount, 1958), "Blast Off!" (ABC-Paramount, 1958) and "Dynamic Twin Pianos" (United Artists Ultra Audio, 1960).


...a 10" album issued on Westminster back in late 1954. (back cover)

In 1959, their ABC-Paramount producer, Don Costa, moved to United Artists and got Ferrante & Teicher signed by his new label, where they quickly began to tailor their sound to a more mainstream audience. Costa was sent the scores from the United Artists movie "The Apartment" and thought that the main theme would have sounded good on twin pianos. In brief, the "Theme from 'The Apartment'" single went up to #10 on the charts.

This success was quickly followed by their biggest hit, an arrangement of Ernest Gold's epic theme from the movie "Exodus", which climbed to #2 and inspired a popular jazz version by saxophonist Eddie Harris. 1961 brought them another hit with the song "Tonight", which was originally featured on the Brodway musical "West Side Story" in 1957 and in the movie of the same name. This lead to the release of their highest-charting album, the #10 "West Side Story and Other Motion Picture & Broadway Hits".

At their next gigs they started dressing alike, donning flashy tuxedos, horn rim glasses and wigs. They added dramatic flourishes to their performances, did comedy bits in between songs and billed themselves as The Grand Twins of the Twin Grands. Their bookings increased and their salaries skyrocketed. Their United Artists contract called for at least three albums a year, but they often recorded more: a flood of Ferrante & Teicher LPs was released over the course of the '60s, with around thirty of them reaching the Pop charts up through 1972.

They maintained a heavy touring schedule, playing more than a hundred concerts a year at the height of their popularity. They also managed to release one final Top Ten single in 1969 with their cover of the theme from the movie "Midnight Cowboy", which featured the distinct 'water guitar sound' of Vinnie Bell.

Ferrante & Teicher's voluminous recording pace tailed off during the '70s, although they did continue to put out albums on a regular basis. In 1979, they left United Artists to form their own label, Avante Garde, the title perhaps an ironic nod at their early days as serious pianists. They stopped performing and retired in 1989, setting up homes near each other in Sarasota, Florida.

The Lounge / Exotica revival of the '90s helped renew interest in their experimental early recordings, and led to the first-ever issue of "Denizens of the Deep" (Varese Sarabande, 2001), a 1950 set of treated piano instrumentals meant to evoke sea creatures that constituted their first recorded work, which went unreleased at the time due to the perceived lack of commercial potential. A few simple embellishments were added to the archival recordings in order to complete their original concept for the pieces. This was their last release.


Ferrante & Teicher as they appear on the back cover of "Adventure in Carols", 1956


My remaster of "Adventure in Carols" contains the following tracks:

01. Sleigh Ride [original mono] (2:55)
02. Good King Wenceslas [original mono] (2:00)
03. What Child Is This? [original mono] (2:39)
04. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer [original mono] (2:06)
05. White Christmas [original mono] (3:33)
06. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town [original mono] (2:06)
07. Christmas Song [original mono] (3:28)
08. The First Nowell [original mono] (2:22)
09. Silent Night [original mono] (2:16)
10. Jingle Bells [original mono] (3:01)
11. Adeste Fideles [original mono] (3:03)
12. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen [original mono] (1:58)

Bonus tracks:

13. Sleigh Ride [simulated stereo] (2:55)
14. Good King Wenceslas [simulated stereo] (2:00)
15. What Child Is This? [simulated stereo] (2:39)
16. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer [simulated stereo] (2:06)
17. White Christmas [simulated stereo] (3:33)
18. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town [simulated stereo] (2:06)
19. Christmas Song [simulated stereo] (3:28)
20. The First Nowell [simulated stereo] (2:22)
21. Silent Night [simulated stereo] (2:16)
22. Jingle Bells [simulated stereo] (3:01)
23. Adeste Fideles [simulated stereo] (3:03)
24. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen [simulated stereo] (1:58)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in December 2018 and are available in FLAC lossless format along with complete artwork reconstruction and printable PDF files.

As usual, please have a look at the comments for the download links.



"Adventure in Carols" was released by Westminster in November 1956 with catalogue number WP 6021. As per title, the album includes twelve Christmas carols which were performed by Ferrante & Teicher on two prepared / treated pianos. The LP comes housed in a playful sleeve that depicts a futuristic scene that involves Santa Claus being launched on a rocket by a team of other Santas. My copy of the album also includes a Westminster promotional leaflet advertising other Christmas and Classical Music records.

Eight of the twelve selections - namely "Sleigh Ride", "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer", "White Christmas", "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town", "Silent Night", "Jingle Bells", "Adeste Fideles" and "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" - were already been released by Westminster two years ealier on the 10" album "Xmas Hi-Fivories" with cat. number WL 3044. You can see the original cover (front and back) a few paragraphs above.

I really have no idea if the four exclusive tracks on "Adventure in Carols" were recorded at the same time of those previously issued on "Xmas Hi-Fivories" in 1954, or if they were still 'fresh' at the time of release, so to speak...

The recording volume on the original album is quite low, and the music is rich in dynamics and contrasts. It wasn't easy to restore the beauty of the quieter parts, but I guess I found the right compromise between clicks/crackles removal and clarity. This resulted in an increasing of the background noise that I didn't attenuate to preserve the 'pureness' of the higher frequencies.

As I wrote in the introduction to this post, it is my pleasure to present "Adventure in Carols" both in the original mono version and in an all-new 'simulated stereo version'. However, don't expect anything mind-blowing: the differences are subtle and the treatment is in line with the spirit of the original recordings, it adds them a little bit of 'movement' without creating unpleasant artefacts.



The following is a slightly edited version of the liner notes that are printed on the back cover of "Adventure in Carols":

«If you are looking for something different in Christmas music - if your Christmas office parties or gatherings at home have been too much the same for the past few years, and you would like to introduce a refreshing new note into the proceedings - let pianists Ferrante & Teicher take you on an "Adventure in Carols".

The paths along which this talented team will lead you bear the old names with which you are familiar ("White Christmas", "Jingle Bells", "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" and others just as popular...) but the names, plus the famous melodies, are the only things about this recording which bear any resemblance to any other version of these carols you may have heard.

For this recording Ferrante & Teicher arranged the carols for two pianos - or should we say that they arranged two pianos for the carols? Actually, they did both - for, if playing conventional pianos in the conventional manner did not produce the effect the boys were after, they worked on both music and pianos until they got just what they wanted.

   
A Westminster promotional leaflet advertising other Christmas and Classical Music records

Westminster’s studios never had seen anything like the session that produced this unique recording. All over the country, of course, audiences for years have seen Arthur Ferrante or Louis Teicher rise from his bench in the middle of a performance and address himself to the innards of his Steinway - alternately muting, plucking, strumming and beating the strings.

Nor does either of them hesitate to use his elbows, forearms or knuckles to elicit a desired chordal effect - not to mention an assortment of wooden and metal gadgets designed to give the pianos a new personality altogether.

These unorthodox and sometimes gymnastic doings are not calculated to amuse. They are an integral part of the team’s very special arrangements. Their goal always is to achieve the maximum tonal contrasts and to simulate orchestral color as vividly as possible within the limitations of pianistic dynamics.

But no concert audience ever saw what Westminster’s engineers saw - or ever heard what has been captured on this recording. It’s not a single recording, to start with, but a double one - no pun intended. The boys played everything through once, then donned earphones and went over the same ground again, interpolating all manner of fancy figurations and fugal folderol.

What with a profusion of microphones stationed over the keyboard, the gadget-laden strings and the paired celestas, the results herewith are unlike any pianism, duo or otherwise, that you have ever experienced. It is as if Santa had, at last, discovered high fidelity. After so many years of hearing the same old tunes played the same old way, Old Nick undoubtedly would join everybody else in welcoming these new Christmas sounds.»


Arthur Ferrante and Louis Teicher, circa early '60s


The following clips offer a complete preview of the remastered album, enjoy!


























More information about Ferrante & Teicher and "Adventure in Carols" is available here:

http://www.ferranteandteicher.info/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrante_%26_Teicher

https://www.discogs.com/artist/179036-Ferrante-Teicher

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/ferrante-teicher-mn0000170214/biography

http://www.spaceagepop.com/ferrante.htm

https://dangerousminds.net/comments/ferrante_teicher_the_forgotten_gods_of_easy_listening_music

https://www.vintagemusic.fm/artist/ferrante-teicher/

https://www.discogs.com/Ferrante-Teicher-Xmas-Hi-Fivories/release/6596942

https://www.discogs.com/Ferrante-Teicher-Adventure-In-Carols/release/3259544

http://www.ferranteandteicher.info/discography/original/Adventure-in-Carols

https://www.allmusic.com/album/adventure-in-carols-mw0001024413

https://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/ferrante_and_teicher/adventure_in_carols/


If you have any other useful information about Ferrante & Teicher and "Adventure in Carols", or if you spot any dead links, please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

PIETRO ATTILA AND THE WARLOCKS "PIETRO AND THE WARLOCKS" (1969)

You say it's your birthday
It's my birthday too, yeah
They say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you

Yes we're going to a party party
Yes we're going to a party party
Yes we're going to a party party

I would like you to dance - Birthday!
Take a cha-cha-cha-chance - Birthday!
I would like you to dance - Birthday!
Dance!

I would like you to dance - Birthday!
Take a cha-cha-cha-chance - Birthday!
I would like you to dance - Birthday!
Dance!

You say it's your birthday
It's my birthday too, yeah
You say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you

Happy birthday!


[from the lyrics of "Happy Birthday"]



It's time for another post concerning a record included in the impressive ECHK / S-ECHK series published in Southeast Asia by EMI / Columbia starting from the second half of the '60s up to the early '70s.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to discover much information about Pietro Attila and The Warlocks, but as usual I'd like to share them with you. Most of the details were sourced from the description of this clip on YouTube and the booklet included in the "Steam Kodok" CD compilation... Here we go:

Pietro D'Angelo was born in Sicily, Italy, sometime during the late '30s. He spent the first part of his life in his native island mastering the tenor saxophone; here he got married and also had a daughter. During the late '50s / early '60s he moved to Hong Kong and made his base there.

Later he adopted the stage name Pietro Attila and his charactheristic 'bald dome and pony tail' look. He came to Singapore in 1968 with a foreign edition of The Warlocks and they did gigs in local clubs.



At some point, the group went back home but Pietro stayed and formed a new edition of The Warlocks comprising mainly Asian musicians. They got signed by EMI and in 1969 they released an album, "Something In the Air", and an untitled EP of exclusive tracks, which is the subject of this post. A single with two cuts taken from the album ("Something In the Air" and "Dizzy") was also released the same year.

Subsequently, the group changed again. In the early '70s, drummer Lim Wee Guan performed with Pietro and The Warlocks for six months at the New Latin Quarter nightspot in the Akasaka district in Tokyo after The Quests split. Thereafter he moved on with them to Guam for another six months.

The following Lim Wee Guan quote is taken from the book "Call It Shanty! - The Story of The Quests" written by Henry Chua:

«After The Quests broke up, I was still playing with other groups. I was with this group called The Black and White Rainbow which had Robert Suriya on lead. After that, they joined up with Pietro and The Warlocks and then they asked me whether I could travel and I thought why not, I had nothing on so I joined Pietro with Robert and Colin Rozario. So we went to Japan, we stayed there for about six months, then from there we went to Guam. After that, I found the music was getting too commercial and I wasn't getting anywhere so I came back. The group later broke up and Pietro left Singapore. I think it was about 1973.»


A rare picture of Pietro Attila and The Warlocks in the early '70s, from left: Robert Suriya, Colin Rozario, Pietro, Lim Wee Guan and Steve Bala


Here's the track list for this 7" EP:

01. Happy Birthday (2:47)
02. This Guy Is In Love With You (3:17)
03. Beggin' (2:47)
04. Turn Around, Look at Me (3:11)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in November 2018 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with scans of the original item.

Please have a look at the comments section for the download link.



The "Pietro and The Warlocks" EP was released by EMI /Columbia in Singapore sometime in 1969 with cat. number ECHK 625. I assume that this was the group's debut release and that their album entitled "Something In the Air" - which will be the subject of another post in the future - was released months later. Of course it could also be the other way round, who knows...

Also, in this post I always refer to the group as Pietro Attila and The Warlocks, as they are credited on their LP release, but their name is spelled as the simpler Pietro and The Warlocks both on this EP and their "Something In the Air b/w Dizzy" 7" single excerpted from the album...

Anyway, the EP comes in a colourful cover that portrays the group in stylish suits and medallions on the front, while on the back an emphasys is given on Pietro, who seems to hold the band in his hand giving the impression of a caring but authoritarian leader.



Side 1 opens with a wild rendition of The Beatles' "Birthday" which is re-entitled as the more popular "Happy Birthday". The original version, which is no less full of energy, was recorded in September 1968 and was included on the remarkable White Album a few months later.

A cover of the popular Bacharach-David song "This Guy Is In Love With You" follows. The original was recorded by trumpeter Herb Alpert in early 1968. In this recording Pietro Attila's English pronunciation is not exactly perfect and clearly shows some limits...

On Side 2 we find "Beggin'", a song which was made popular by The Four Seasons in 1967 - my favourite cut from the EP - and the slow-paced "Turn Around, Look at Me", a song written by Jerry Capeheart, which since its first version recorded by Glen Campbell in 1961 was also covered by The Lettermen, the Bee Gees and The Vogues.


The following clips offer a complete preview of the remastered EP, enjoy!










More information about Pietro Attila and The Warlocks is available here:

https://www.discogs.com/artist/2344028-Pietro-Attila-amp-The-Warlocks

https://rateyourmusic.com/artist/pietro_attila_and_the_warlocks


If you have any other useful information about Pietro Attila and The Warlocks or if you spot any dead links, please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

DICK HYMAN "THE AGE OF ELECTRONICUS" (1969)

«Joe Carlton, Command Records president, is moving on several roots to advance the field of electronic pop music. He is proposing to guitar companies that they manufacture a guitar synthesizer which, he believes, will be the perfect device for electronic rock. On another level, he is working with key chains such as E. J. Korvette, Sears, Roebuck, Whitefront and others to establish a separate category for electronic music, with separate browsers and racks. Carlton added: "We have plans for a synthesizer which will go beyond Moog. The present Moog synthesizer, both monophonic and polyphonic, is based on a keyboard instrument approach... But the biggest contribution of the rock musicians derives from their guitar rather than keyboard technique... Use of a guitar synthesizer would be superior to the present method of taking a hard rock performance on conventional guitar and putting it through the keyboard synthesizer." Carlton, who has produced such hits as "Moog: The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman" and the single "The Minotaur", says that this music, because it is new and futuristic, appeals to all young and old and black and white. He added, "As electronic music comes to the fore, as it becomes more familiar, people will recognize its artistic values." He pointed out that the sounds of Stravinsky, Charles Ives and other pioneers were initially attacked but today they are celebrated. "This is the beginning of the world of electronic music," he said.»

[from "Carlton's Electronic Pop Music Campaign on Move", Billboard, August 9, 1969]



Richard "Dick" Hyman (born March 8, 1927, New York City) is an American Jazz pianist/keyboardist and composer, best known for his versatility with Jazz piano styles. Over a 50-year career, he has functioned as a pianist, organist, arranger, music director, and, increasingly, as a composer. His versatility in all of these areas has resulted in well over 100 albums recorded under his own name and many more in support of other artists. [1]

Hyman's career is pretty intimidating in its achievements and scope. He has scored, arranged and/or performend for Broadway, movies, television and live radio, and he's recorded in every format, from 78s to CD-ROMs. He's got a whole gamut of music genres covered, from Jazz and Blues to Classical to Pop and Electronic Psychedelia. Hyman is exceptionally renowned as a professional musician, and was inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame in 1995. His articulate and wry anecdotes, commentary on the business, and techniques of making music have been published along with sheet music in a series of books. [2]



Beginning in the mid-1950s he started recording with his own name for MGM. His cover of "Moritat", on harpsichord with his trio, sold over a million copies in 1956 and was the most successful recording of the tune until Bobby Darin did it as "Mack the Knife". He was the musical director of The Arthur Godfrey Show from 1958 to 1961. He was an early staple of Enoch Light's Command label, for which he recorded light classical, swinging harpsichord, funky organ, and "now sound" combo albums. He also demonstrated his continuing interest in new keyboard instruments, releasing two of the earliest Moog albums. Hyman has stayed in demand as much as any musician around, working for TV, scoring film soundtracks for Woody Allen, and, more recently, as a Jazz pianist and organist. [3]

So, here comes the last chapter in Hyman's Electronic / Experimental triptych. The 1963 masterpiece "Moon Gas", credited to him and Mary Mayo, was covered on Stereo Candies both in mono and stereo some time ago. More recently it was the turn of the seminal "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman", an album of original compositions and improvisations recorded in late 1968 using mainly the Moog Modular. Now it's time for "The Age of Electronicus", his second - and last - Moog album on Command Records. More of Hyman's recorded output will be featured on these pages in the future, now let's take care of this primordial little jewel of Electronic Pop Music.

Sources:

[1] from Wikipedia

[2] from the introduction to an interview with Dick Hyman conducted by Michael David Toth, published on Cool and Strange Music!, issue #7, 1997

[3] from Space Age Pop Music


"The Age of Electronicus" outer gatefold reconstruction


"The Age of Electronicus" inner gatefold reconstruction


The following liner notes, written by Dick Hyman and entitled "Working with the Moog Synthesizer", are included in the inner gatefold of "The Age of Electronicus". They give a hint about how the album was made - basically by recording one different sound at a time on a multitrack reel-to-reel system that you can see pictured on the inner gatefold of the album, probably an Ampex AG440-B - and the way he approached this work.

«It is a lot of work; it is painstaking, repetitive, and even frustrating work. And yet the results, when they come off, are a kind of music, very much worth all that effort. I began working with the Moog Synthesizer when Joe Carlton, the head of Command Records, assigned me to produce the album prior to this one, "Electric Eclectics". Walter Sear, the expert programmer with whom I work, initiated me into the electronic intricacies of Synthesizer sound, and gradually I learned some of the things that the Synthesizer can do.

The Moog Synthesizer is a new instrument and, like many new things, it is somewhat misunderstood. I think of it as a super-organ which offers the player vast new possibilities in tone production, and which at the same time requires him to organize his thoughts in a serial way, as opposed to creating an entire performance at one sitting. In other words, it is not all done at once. Successive lines of tones are recorded in conjunction with a multi-track recorder. The Synthesizer is not analogous to a player piano, nor will it make up its own arrangements. It is very much a played device, and the programming which is involved relates to the production of individual tones (their timbre, duration, attack, decay, etc.). It is the arranger-composer, not the Synthesizer, who groups these tones into the desired musical organization exactly as he would do if he were playing a conventional instrument or writing a score.

Another common misunderstanding about the Synthesizer is the notion that it is a perfect substitute for all instruments and types of orchestras which have preceded it in musical history. The Synthesizer is not about to replace any of these instruments or orchestras. It is not nearly as efficient, although it can do some pretty imitations. An orchestra sounds more like on orchestra than a Synthesizer can, and a lot more quickly and economically too. But when the Synthesizer is used to create its own thing, the new aural events are remarkable for both the player-arranger and the listener. The new sounds (unlike those which any orchestral instrument can produce), the unexpected alterations of the old sounds, the convenience of being able to play them on a keyboard and have them recorded directly on a multi-track recorder — these are the factors which encouraged an imaginative and programmatic approach to the arrangements in the present album.»


"The electronic soul of Command", reconstruction of a double-page spread advert originally published on the August 9, 1969 issue of Billboard


"The Age of Electronicus" contains the following tracks:

01. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (2:48)
02. Give It Up or Turn It Loose (3:13)
03. Blackbird (3:12)
04. Aquarius (2:49)
05. Green Onions (7:53)
06. Kolumbo (7:42)
07. Time Is Tight (3:08)
08. Alfie (3:44)
09. Both Sides Now (3:04)

Bonus tracks:

10. Green Onions (Single Edit, Stereo Version) (3:08)
11. Strobo (Simulated Stereo Version) (2:58)
12. Lay, Lady, Lay (Simulated Stereo Version) (3:18)

All tracks were remastered in October 2018 from the original vinyl records, except "Give It Up or Turn It Loose", "Kolumbo" and "Time Is Tight" which were remastered from the expanded CD version of Hyman's "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman". They are available in FLAC lossless format along with complete artwork reconstruction and printable PDF files.

As usual, please have a look at the comments for the download links.


Dick Hyman, circa late '60s / early '70s

Here's the complete credits and personnel list of the album:

Dick Hyman - Moog Modular synthesizer, Baldwin electric harpsichord, Lowrey organ, Maestro Rhythmaster unit, Echoplex tape delay unit, triangle

Billy LaVorgna - drums

Arranged and Produced by Dick Hyman.

Programming by Walter Sear.

Mixing: Fred Christie at Fine Recording

Mastering: Lee Hulco at Sterling Sound

Cover and Liner Design: Byron Goto / Henry Epstein

Photos: Roger Pola / Eric Goto




Coming just months after the successful "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman", "The Age of Electronicus" was released by Command-ABC Records in August 1969 with catalogue number 946-S. The album was also released as a Reel-To-Reel stereo tape with catalogue number X 946, and was preceded by a 7" single containing two of its most favourable tracks, namely the covers of the well-known "Green Onions" by Booker T. & The M.G.'s and "Aquarius" by The 5th Dimension.

When the LP was released, the previous "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman" was still in the Billboard Top 100 LP Chart. Surprisingly, "The Age of Electronicus" failed to repeat the success experienced by its predecessor, even though everything was apparently made to enhance its accessibility and Pop charm.

Coming in a colourful gatefold cover, "The Age of Electronicus" was released as part of an Electronic Pop Music series which, as you can see from the Command Records advert featured in this post, also included Walter Sear / The Copper Plated Integrated Circuit's "Plugged In Pop" and Richard Hayman's "Genuine Electric Latin Love Machine". Both these albums will be investigated at a later date here on Stereo Candies.

The main difference between Hyman's two Moog albums is that "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman" is entirely made of original compositions and improvisations created by Hyman himself, while "The Age of Electronicus" is mostly based on the re-elaboration of successful Pop tunes with the only exception of "Kolumbo", a more experimental track someway similar to the now legendary "The Minotaur", also by Hyman: that was the track which got picked up by radio stations months earlier and was fundamental to the success of the previous album, becoming the very first single featuring a Moog synthesizer to chart.



Another significative difference between the albums is that the tracks on "The Age of Electronicus" don't feature any regular instrument except Billy LaVorgna's great drumming on selected tracks: most of the sounds are generated by the Moog and a few other devices as detailed on the album credits and the liner notes that follow.

The album only spent 11 weeks in the Billboard Top 200 LP Chart - peaking at #110 - and the poor performance of the "Green Onions b/w Aquarius" single, which peaked at #126, didn't help the LP to reach the success I think it deserved. Furthermore, by the time "The Age of Aquarius" was released, record shops were also offering many other Moog albums and, despite the hype and curiosity surrounding the all-new electronic instrument, without the help of another groundbreaking single the record failed to make a difference.

Hyman's memories about the recording of "The Age of Electronicus" and "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman" are available in a great piece written by Thom Holme for the Bob Moog Foundation website. Pictures of a Moog Modular system very similar to the one used on these albums are available here.

The following track-by-track commentary is a slightly edited version of the original liner notes included in the inner gatefold of the album.


"Green Onions / Aquarius" single, Side A

Side 1 opens with "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da", originally by The Beatles. The song features a not-quite piccolo sound, a sort-of bass clarinet sound, and a spitting-tobacco kind of sound in which the timbre changes as an individual tone is sustained. A Baldwin electronic harpsichord provides the plectrum effect. The rhythm section, recorded after the Synthesizer tracks were completed, is composed of Billy LaVorgna on drums and the arranger on triangle. The by-play among the three 'horns' is the result of recording each line separately on the multi-track recorder and is particularly effective here in giving the impression of the kind of playful communication three musicians might have with each other.

"Give It Up or Turn It Loose" is an experiment in Electronic Soul, specifically that of James Brown, whose recording is the basic model for this arrangement. The excitement of James Brown's singing and dancing is expressed electronically by the Synthesizer in swooshes, sweeps, and explosions of what engineers call, ironically, 'white noise'. Live drums play along with the Maestro Rhythmaster, a metronome-like mechanical drum device.

"Blackbird" is arranged as an electronic orchestration of the Beatles' recording. The Synthesizer elaborates on the original sparse elements and dwells unexpectedly on a section of bird calls. The sound of the Baldwin electronic harpsichord was fed through the Synthesizer to provide the moving tenths.

"Aquarius" demonstrates the Synthesizer's impression of how the Inhabitants of Saturn might perform the hit song from the musical "Hair". It should be emphasized that the inhabitants of Saturn are an extremely smooth-skinned race, but they do their best. Bill LaVorgna, however, who is quite hirsute, is added on drums. The arranger plays electronic harpsichord and Lowrey organ in addition.

"Green Onions" takes as its premise the classic recording by Booker T. & the M.G.'s and goes on from there. The organ-like sound of the first soloist becomes unexpectedly slippery as the Synthesizer's portamento possibilities are explored. The second and third soloists join in until a feeling of New Year's Eve in Times Square reaches us. After some frantic polyphony, we return to Booker T. in Memphis. (Lowrey organ, drums and electronic harpsichord added).


"Green Onions / Aquarius" single, Side B

Side 2 starts with "Kolumbo", an original number created by Dick Hyman. This track was performed simultaneously on the Synthesizer and the Maestro Rhythmaster, the mechanical drum device, the tones of which were fed through an Echoplex tape reverberation unit. Not only the duration and the frequency of reverberation but the fundamental rhythms were altered during the improvised performance, so that there is an effect of a battery of African drummers following an improvising soloist. The listener can provide his own scenario of what seems to be a musical battle, as a second soloist abruptly materializes, challenging the first man. At the end, the original soloist states a brief epilogue, packs up his horn, and splits.

"Time Is Tight", a song by Booker T. & the M.G.'s, begins with a banjo-like effect obtained by running the sound of the electronic harpsichord through the tape reverberation unit. The Synthesizer states the melody by means of a sine wave programmed to develop an increasingly wide vibrato. (There is a resemblance to a certain type of girl singer who used to work with the big bands). The other 'soloist' is expressed by use of a pulse wave programmed to incorporate a gradual timbral change. Live drums are added.

In "Alfie" the melody undulates over a shifting landscape as the two moons of Mars inscrutably look down. The title translates into Martian as, "What's it all about, Alpha Centauri?" This is my favourite track from the album, it took hours of work to properly clean it from but it was worth every single second!

"Both Sides Now", the Joni Mitchell song, developed into a program piece which postulates what might happen if a bagpiper wandered into an orchestral performance of some characteristic nineteenth century music. The Synthesizer constructs a cartoon symphony, playfully adding to its impression of standard instrumentation a honky-tonk piano (actually the electronic harpsichord). "After an elaborate exposition", as Deems Taylor would have explained, "the main theme returns in a grand Wagnerian finale, our undaunted bagpiper skirling above the orchestral tutti". As mentioned here, this is Hyman's favourite track from the album.


"Strobo / Lay, Lady, Lay" promotional single, Side A

My remaster of "The Age of Electronicus" also includes three bonus tracks:

"Green Onions (Single Edit, Stereo Version)", as the title implies, is an edit of the longer version originally included on the album. In brief, the structure of this edit is the same that was released as a single but uses a stereo mix instead of the mono mix.

"Strobo (Simulated Stereo Version)" and "Lay, Lady, Lay (Simulated Stereo Version)" are enhanced versions of the tracks that originally appeared on the "Strobo / Lay, Lady, Lady" promotional single released in late 1969, which I have already featured here months ago. Basically, I tweaked the Eq of the left and right channels of the mono versions and used the subtle differences between them to assign different pan positions to groups of frequencies achieving a pseudo-stereo effect. This is the first time I experiment with such possibilities, so I would be quite pleased to know what you think about the result.

Here's what I wrote about these two tracks in the original post:

"Strobo" is an original number written by Hyman himself. In a similar fashion to the hit "The Minotaur", recorded in late 1968, the track is built on the top of a dense rhythm played by the Maestro Rhythm Unit, probably feeded through an Echoplex. Some people describe this music as Proto-Techno and others even catch a glimpse of Drum 'n' Bass in its skittering beat. Whatever your view on the subject is, "Strobo" was pretty ahead of its time and its shrill keyboard lines undeniably have a futuristic charm.

"Lay, Lady, Lay" is an instrumental version of the song written by Bob Dylan which was released months earlier on his "Nashville Skyline" album. Hyman replaces the original vocal lines with the Moog, giving the song a very strong imprint. The acoustic rhythm section in the background adds to the value of this cover, creating a somewhat pleasant alienating effect. As much as I enjoy "Strobo", I must admit that this piece induces me in a compulsive state, and I can't help to press the repeat button again and again...


"Strobo / Lay, Lady, Lay" promotional single, Side B


The following clips offer a complete preview of the remastered album, enjoy!




















More information about Dick Hyman, "The Age of Electronicus" and the Moog Modular synthesizer is available here:

http://www.dickhyman.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Hyman

http://www.spaceagepop.com/hyman.htm

http://www.discogs.com/artist/15443-Dick-Hyman

http://moogfoundation.org/moog-a-history-in-recordings-dick-hyman-master-stylist-of-the-moog-modular/

http://tapeop.com/interviews/92/dick-hyman/

http://tapeop.com/articles/92/dick-hyman-bonus/

https://www.moogmusic.com/news/happy-birthday-dick-hyman-0

https://www.allaboutjazz.com/dick-hyman-the-beat-goes-on-dick-hyman-by-chris-m-slawecki.php?page=1

https://www.discogs.com/master/view/195522

https://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/dick-hyman/the-age-of-electronicus/

http://taylorjessen.blogspot.com/2014/03/dick-hyman-age-of-electronicus.html

https://www.whosampled.com/album/Dick-Hyman/The-Age-Of-Electronicus/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moog_modular_synthesizer

https://www.flickr.com/photos/matrixsynth/sets/72157602368600280/



If you have any other useful information about Dick Hyman and "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman" - especially corrections and improvements to this post - or if you spot any dead links, please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

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