Saturday, 29 November 2014

DICK JENSEN "A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS / TAMIKA (COME BACK LATER)" (1972)

Give you a penny for your thoughts
I hope you're thinking about me
Give you a penny for your thoughts
I hope you're thinking about me

Oh, you're staring out in space
You're looking all over the place
Oh, you must be daydreaming
Seems like you're so scheming
Scheming on what?

Give you a penny for your thoughts
I hope you're thinking about me
Not a nickel, not a dime, I told you the first time
Just a penny for your thoughts

I just called your name
and you didn't even hear me
Baby, that's no way to act now
especially whenever you're near me
I got to have your attention
So I just thought I'd mention
I mention what?

Give you a penny for your thoughts
I hope you're thinking about me
Not a nickel, not a dime, I told you the first time
Just a penny, yeah

Just a penny for your thoughts
I hope you're thinking about me
Give you a penny for your thoughts
I hope you're thinking about me
Not a nickel, not a dime, I told you the first time
Just a penny for your thoughts...


[from the lyrics of "A Penny For Your Thoughts"]


"A Penny For Your Thoughts / Tamika (Come Back Later)" front cover reconstruction

Dick Jensen was one of the first artists to sign with the now-legendary Philadelphia International Records label in 1971. Nowadays it seems that he had little in common with the other artists which made the label famous later on, but at the time - once you heard the power and soul in his vocal delivery - it all made perfect sense. And with the label main men Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff behind the scenes, it seemed as if Dick Jensen had finally found the perfect home for his energetic style of Soul.

Like many of the label's acts, Jensen received musical assistance from PIR's house band, the illustrious MFSB. The band on the recording sessions for his self-titled album featured Ronnie Baker (bass), Larry Washington (congas, bongos), Earl Young (drums), Lenny Pakula (organ), Leon Huff (piano), Vincent Montana (vibraphone) and guitarists Bobby Eli, Norman Harris, Roland Chambers and TJ Tindall. Backing vocals were provided by Barbara Ingram, Carla Benson and Evette Benton.


"A Penny For Your Thoughts / Tamika (Come Back Later)" front cover reconstruction (promo version)

Along with arrangements by Bobby Martin, Vince Montana and Norman Harris, and production by Bunny Sigler, Thom Bell and Gamble & Huff themselves (who also handled a majority of the songwriting) "Dick Jensen", released in February 1973, was as smooth and slick as anything else the label had released but was far more Pop-oriented.

Unfortunately, upon release, critics and Soul fans didn't know what to make of it. Jensen's talent was undeniable, but the album was not what they expected from the house that Gamble & Huff had built and the project itself was lost in the confusion... More information about the album are available here and here.


Dick Jensen performing live in 1970


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

01. A Penny For Your Thoughts (3:03)
02. Tamika (Come Back Later) (2:57)

Both tracks were remastered in November 2014 and are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files; both formats include scans of the complete original artwork.

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

   
"A Penny For Your Thoughts / Tamika (Come Back Later)" Side A and Side B (official release)

Althought a "1972" release date appear on the labels, it looks like "A Penny For Your Thoughts / Tamika (Come Back Later)" was released in March 1973 by Philadelphia International Records in a company sleeve with catalogue number ZS7 3527.

Written by Gamble & Huff and arranged by Vince Montana, the breezy "A Penny For Your Thoughts" recalls the optimistic musical spirit of Sammy Davis Jr.'s "Candy Man". The song is more akin to something Tom Jones or Engelbert Humperdinck would have released in the late '60s. With that being said, it's a delicious slice of soulful Easy Listening Pop at its finests.

   
"A Penny For Your Thoughts / Tamika (Come Back Later)" Side A and Side B (promo version)

Also written by Gamble & Huff is "Tamika (Come Back Later)", a song that features Jensen in Levi Stubbs mode, bellowing out the words as if his life depended on it. Arranged by bassist Ronnie Baker and being closer to a Motown Pop song than a Philly Soul record, in the U.K. this number was also used as the flip side of the "I Don't Want To Cry" single released in May 1973 (see here for more details). Here's the lyrics:

Tamika come back later
Tamika come back later
I've got another love in my corner

Who told you to come around here
without giving me some kind of warning?
Giving me some kind of warning
And who told you to knock on my door
when it's so early in the morning?
It's so early in the morning

You should have known much better than that
You should have known it was over and back

Tamika come back later
Tamika come back later
I've got another love in my corner

You left me for the love of another
You filled my heart with so much sorrow
Filled it with so much sorrow
Now you tell me that you're really, really sorry
but it's too late so come back tomorrow
Girl, you'd better come back tomorrow

You should have called before you came back
'cause it's a sin to see you cry

Tamika come back later
Tamika come back later
I've got another love in my corner...
Yes I do



Most of the text on this page was sourced from the "Dick Jensen" reissue liner notes written by Stephen SPAZ Schnee. The CD was released by Big Break Records in 2013 and is currently the only available Jensen album, I strongly encourage you to buy a copy of this great long forgotten masterpiece!

More information about Dick Jensen is available here:

http://archives.starbulletin.com/2006/06/22/news/story02.html

http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2006/Jun/22/il/FP606220304.html

http://www.oahuislandnews.com/May05/Home.htm

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

I'm currently compiling a Dick Jensen biography, the first part of this work-in-progress covers the period 1942-1972 and is available here.

I'm also trying to compile a Dick Jensen exhaustive discography, my work-in-progress is available here.

Last but not least, I'm also trying to build a collection of Dick Jensen pictures and memorabilia, my work-in-progress is available here.

All my posts dedicated to Dick Jensen on this blog are available here.


I will post more Dick Jensen stuff in the next months, if you have any other useful information about him and his releases or if you spot any dead links, just get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

DICK HYMAN / MARY MAYO "MOON GAS" (MONO VERSION, 1963)

«There is a distinct possibility that this is the greatest record ever recorded before 1968.» [1]



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. [2]

Hyman's career is pretty intimidating in its achievements and scope. He has scored, arranged and/or performend for roadway, 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. [3]

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. [4]



The aforementioned albums, "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman" and "The Age of Electronicus", will be the subject of other posts in the future here on Stereo Candies... For the time being let's take care about "Moon Gas", which is a great, Great, GREAT record from the Space Age era also due to the otherwordly vocals provided by Mary Mayo.

Born 20 July 1924 in Statesville, North Carolina, Mary Mayo first got started as a singer appearing on broadcasts from radio station WBT in Charlotte, just after the end of World War Two. Gifted with a four-octave range, she was soon spotted by talent scouts and wound up working for Tex Beneke, who was leading the post-war version of the Glenn Miller Orchestra. While singing with Beneke, she married Al Ham, an arranger and bass player in the band. Like that of other session singers, Mayo's work is largely uncredited outside her Musicians Union logs. She ghosted on the "original cast" albums of numerous Broadway musicals, and sang alongside Don Elliott in a short-lived vocal jazz combo known as the Manhattanaires. She released a couple of singles for Columbia in the 1950s and she earned a cover billing on one of Leroy Holmes' releases for MGM. Aside from "Moon Gas", her one noteworthy credited appearance of the '60s was at Duke Ellington's legendary 1969 jazz concert at the White House for President Nixon. [5]

Dubbed "a glimpse at the possible sounds of the 22nd century" in the liner notes, "Moon Gas" was by far Mayo's most notable effort and remains much-prized by collectors of Exotica and early electronic recordings, although she enjoyed her greatest commercial success thanks to Coca-Cola: when the advertising agency McCann Erickson hired Ham to assemble a wholesome folk group to record their jingle "I'd Like To Give the World a Coke", he tapped Mayo and their daughter Lorri to lead the studio chorus, and when the commercial proved a cultural phenomenon, the song was re-recorded under the title "I'd Like to Teach the World To Sing", credited to the Hillside Singers. The Metromedia label subsequently released two full-length Hillside Singers LPs, including a Christmas recording, both featuring Mayo. In 1986 the label also issued "Time Remembered", a collection of songs she cut for the NPR radio series American Popular Song nine years earlier. Unfortunately, Mayo did not live to see the album's release, she died of cancer in December of 1985. [6]


Mary Mayo, 1951

Sources:

[1] from Waxidermy

[2] from Wikipedia

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

[4] from Space Age Pop Music

[5] from Space Age Pop Music

[6] from AllMusic


The following liner notes printed on the back cover of "Moon Gas" were written by Leonard Feather, a British-born jazz pianist, composer, and producer who was best known for his music journalism and other writing. Among his music releases we remember "Hi Fi Suite", recorded in 1957 with the Dick Hyman Orchestra; this is the album which contains the original version of "Space Reflex (Blues In 5/4)"...

«This is an album of amazing contrasts.

For Dick Hyman, brilliant 36-year-old pianist/organist, the album is a glimpse at the possible sounds of the 22nd century. For vocalist Mary Mayo, the setting is antithetical to almost everything she has ever known.

Says Hyman of the far-future sounds devised for Mary's environment: "A lot of electronic music has been created by making marks or cuts on the actual recording tape - the 'musique concrete' technique - as well as by using machines that make syntethic tones, or by recording various sounds and then changing them by tricks such as altering the tape speeds, playing tape backwards, adding echo and so forth. By the time you got the final product this way, it was the result of a great deal of editing and splicing of small lenghts of tape.

"We used a different approach here. The same results, we decided, can be produced by playing electronic instruments. So this is electronic music by live musicians, plus Mary's voice and a swinging rhythm section."

"The Lowrey organ has a built-in reverberation, plus a 'glide pedal' with which you can actually bend the notes. Then there's the AOC - the Accompaniment Orchestra Control - which is a feature of a smaller home model Lowrey organ that enables you to play a full chord by just hitting a single note, so that very rapid block-chord passages can be produced with just a single-finger technique."

"Then there's the Martinot, which in addition to a keyboard, has an adjustable ribbon with which theremin-like sounds can be made. And the Ondioline, a keyboard instrument with a wide variety of tones. ln addition, we used a pure-tone oscillator with a dial operated by a telegraph key."

"On top of all this, I was lucky enough to have the help of Vinnie Bell, who has some complicated home-made equipment attached to his guitar, operated by four foot-pedals; this enabled him to make a lot of the rustles, squeaks, rumbles and other inexplicable noises."

The album is a marked contrast to everything Mary Mayo has known right from birth - in a conservative Colonial-style house in Statesville, N.C. - through her upbringing, as a daughter of a concert soprano and an operatic tenor. Her own life in music, too, developed on a very different level. Irish songs, part of the family tradition, were her specialty, and a record of Molly Malone was her first big popular hit.

There is nothing illogical, though, in the radical new departure on these sides. Juilliard trained in voice, piano and theory, Mary has had every kind of experience in popular singing, from dance band work (with Tex Beneke) to theatres, supper clubs, television (with Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Jackie Gleason, Jack Paar and the late Ernie Kovacs) and recordings with Ray Conniff, Kirby Stone and innumerable others.

Married to the talented arranger-conductor Al Ham, who doubles as manager of Oscar Brown Jr., Mary is the mother of a six-year-old daughter and in recent years has confined her activity chiefly to work in and around New York.

"I've done singing commercials ad infinitum", she reports, "and enjoy doing them; you get to work with the finest studio musicians around. But making this album with Dick Hyman was a ball - and an exciting challenge. We'd worked together on a lot of other people's records and it was great to be working on our own.

"I've been so thrilled about the whole album idea - the girl from outer space, or love music two hundred years from now. And it was a special kick, after being associated lately with so many dates on which I just sang oohs and aahs and obligatos, to know that this time I was going to be able to use real words too!"

The basic personnel comprises Dick Hyman on Lowrey organ, AOC and piano; Nick Tagg on Lowrey organ, Hammond organ, AOC and piano; Vinnie Bell on -what shall we call it?- super-electric guitar; Bob (Rosie) Rosengarden on bongos, tambourine, Martinot, oscillator, door buzzer, etc.; Osie Johnson on regular drums; and Joe Benjamin on bass (replaced on the first, third and fourth tracks on Side 2 by Milt Hilton).»


Dick Hyman, circa 1960


"Moon Gas" contains the following tracks:

01. Moon Gas (2:17)
02. Maid of the Moon (2:48)
03. Isn't It Odd (3:13)
04. Stella By Starlight (2:57)
05. Imagination (2:35)
06. Space Reflex (Blues In 5/4) (3:16)
07. Bye, Bye Blues (2:31)
08. They Can't Take That Away From Me (3:36)
09. For All We Know (3:13)
10. Desafinado (Slightly Out of Tune) (2:43)
11. I'm Glad There Is You (3:35)
12. Star Eyes (2:40)

All tracks were remastered from vinyl in November 2014 and are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files. Both formats offer complete printable PDF artwork.

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

Note: my copy of "Moon Gas" is not an original press, it is a re-issue - probably a bootleg, althought it shows a MGM label - published in the '90s due to the interest generated by the Exotica revival. Unfortunately, just like the CD re-issue published in Japan by Vroom Sound in 2003, this is a Mono mix... Damn, this is Stereo Candies, one day I'll be able to lay my hands on an original Stereo copy of "Moon Gas" and it will be my pleasure to share a decently remastering with anyone interested, it's a promise!

EDIT 30.01.2016: A reader of this blog was kind enough to send me a FLAC rip of the original stereo album (...thank you Al!!!) and now it's my pleasure to share a remastered version here!

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

Mary Mayo: vocals
Dick Hyman: Lowrey organ, Ondioline, AOC and piano
Nick Tagg: Lowrey organ, Hammond organ, Martinot, AOC and piano
Vincent (Vinnie) Bell: guitars and sound effects
Bob (Rosie) Rosengarden: bongos, tambourine, cymbal, Martinot, oscillator, door buzzer
Osie Johnson: drums
Joe Benjamin: bass
Milton Krause: Ondioline (on "I'm Glad There Is You")
George Barnes: guitar (on "I'm Glad There Is You")
Milt Hinton: bass (on "Bye, Bye Blues", "For All We Know" and "Desafinado")

Director of engineering: Val Valentin
Cover photograph: Murray Laden

Produced by Creed Taylor.


"Moon Gas" was released by MGM Records sometimes in early 1963 with catalogue number SE-4119 for the Stereo version and E-4119 for the Mono version. According to this book, some of the session for the album were recorded in November 1962.

The following track-by-track commentary is a just slightly adapted version of the original liner notes by Leonard Feather.



"Moon Gas", with a wordless vocal by Mary, is a futuristic blues, opening with sound effects (pah!) by Vinnie, proceeding to buzzer and oscillator by Rosie, Nick's pecking on AOC and Dick working the glide pedal on his Lowrey solo. This track, though organized by Dick, was largely improvised.

"Maid of the Moon", composed by Dick, is a minor-mode waltz, with tape echo effects during Dick's piano solo, Nick gliding away the Lowrey and Mary recalling memories of Kay Davis with the Ellington band of the 1940s.

"Isn't It Odd" is a rare example of Dick Hyman as both lyricist and composer. Notice the bell sounds and quasi-Hawaiian-guitar effects by Dick on Lowrey, and Nick's theremin-like mood on the Hammond. In spite of all the effects, this remains a love song, and a waltz at that, providing a remarkable showcase for Mary's lovely sound and expressive interpretation of the unusually-constructed words.

"Stella By Starlight" should perhaps have been retitled Stella By Moongaslight. Opening and closing with that charming 22nd century couple, Mary and the oscillator, it includes in the second chorus a wild solo - sweeps, chimes and reed-like answers - all by Dick on Lowrey.

"Imagination", played as a waltz and with Mary returning to the land of words, has Nick on Lowrey and a solo by Dick in which the use of AOC for rapid-chord sequences in strikingly shown.

"Space Reflex (Blues in 5/4)", originally called Bass Reflex was the first blues in 5/4 time ever written and recorded - in a 1956 LP Dick and I made called "Hi Fi Suite" on MGM E3494. I wrote the main theme (played here by Nick on piano with strings blocked to sound an octave higher); Dick added the minor passage, to which he plays a bass-clarinet-like obligato while Mary sings it wordlessly. The various whoops and clangs are Vinnie on guitar; the funky blues solo is Dick in some wild, rocking Lowrey work.



Side B opens with "Bye, Bye Blues", again showing Mary's grace and purity of tone. It has Nick on Hammond, Rosie on oscillator and Dick on AOC; again there are strange rustles and comments by spaceman Vinnie.

Mary's wordless statement teams with Dick's Lowrey effects - glide pedal, chimes and clarinet sounds - on "They Can't Take That Away From Me".

The not-quite-human sounds that introduce "For All We Know" are invoked by Nick on the Martinot. One indescribable sound on this tune, Dick points out, was achieved by Rosie and consists of a cymbal being slowly lowered into a pail of water. Mary says 'Tomorrow may never come', but from the evidence it would seem that tomorrow is very much with us.

"Desafinado" is totally unexpected in the context of this album. "Another enjoyable challenge", says Mary. "I had to learn both the music and the Portuguese lyrics from the Joao Gilberto record. I like all Dick's arrangements -they're all so imaginative- but this is my favourite." The bossanova rhythm is played by Nick on Hammond and the solo on AOC by Dick.

"I'm Glad There Is You" was recorded with a different personnel: Hyman on Lowrey and Tagg on Hammond with Milton Krause on Ondioline and George Barnes on electric guitar. Mary's lyrical, sensitive style is well suited to the words of both verse and chorus. This song, incidentally, was written by Paul Madeira, who as Paul Mertz played piano on many Bix Beiderbecke records in the 1920s.

"Star Eyes", with fine walking bass by Benjamin, swings from the start, with words by Mary, Martinot trills by Rosie, guitar pings by Vinnie, plus Nick and Dick in a Lowrey-and-AOC duet. The two-octave upsweep at the end is one of the wildest finales I have ever heard.

Though the above comments should give you a few helpful pointers in your trip through outer space with Mary and Dick, the journey should prove thoroughly stimulating with or without guideposts. But please watch out for flying saucers!


The following clips offer a preview of the remastered album: enjoy "Moon Gas", "Isn't It Odd", "Space Reflex (Blues in 5/4)" and "Bye, Bye Blues"!










The following interview was published on "Cool and Strange Music!", issue #7, 1997

The Further Adventures of The Man from O.R.G.A.N.

An interview with Dick Hyman by Michael David Toth

MDT: It seems like at this time in your career it's reversed from the '50s and '60s, in that very little of your professional time now is spent doing studio recordings for albums, but most of it is in live performances, film work, and other sundry side projects for stage and screen. Am I assessing this correctly?

DH: Yes, you're correct. In the '50s, I was still on staff with NBC in New York, and before that at a smaller station, WMCA. That led to my being totally freelance for several decades, except for a three-year period when I didn't do much, but be Arthur Godfrey's music director. Before and after that time, my work was primarily record dates, films, and radio and television commercials. After a time, however, I got into the more recent period, which you describe accurately, where I do a lot more concerts and performances which I produce or organize, as well as films.

MDT: What sort of things caused that shift in making live performance more attractive than doing studio work?

DH: A couple of things: one was I felt the need to express myself a little bit more personally rather than continue to be a largely anonymous player or arranger. Also, my name was increasing in stature due to my own arrangements, and this somewhat made it awkward to be on call working for other arrangers. I'd been able to maintain that balance of both doing my own things and working for other people for a long time, but at a certain point it seemed to tip the other way, and I was into my own projects much more. And then too, the golden age of studio work had begun to decline. There came to be much less of it, and today, as far as I know, there's only an echo of the amazing flourishing we had in the '50s through the '70s.

MDT: Jumping back to the subject of your film work, probably some of the prominent batches of your recent work are related to Woody Allen projects. How did that whole working relationship with Woody Allen get initiated? What was the first film that started with?

DH: I think the very first film that I did of Woody's was when I worked for Mundell Lowe, who did the music for "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex". Thereafter, I began to get calls from Woody's office to do piano solos, for example in "Stardust Memories" and "Manhattan". These led to more responsible orchestral scoring; the first of these was Zelig, which required a lot of music, both arranging and original stuff. And it went on from there. At this point I do whatever is necessary whenever it's necessary. For example, it took about a year to put all the music together for "Everyone Says I Love You", which is the most recent film of Woody's.

MDT: Regarding the honky-tonk piano album fad in the days of Knuckles O'Toole and your other aliases: one of the things you mentioned in the book was how a lot of the honky-tonk albums of the time used stuff like thumb-tacks on the mallets and various tricks to mess with the piano tuning, kind of veering into the territory of John Cage's prepared piano experiments.

DH: Well, it really is the same thing, except Cage was a lot more sophisticated about it. He prepared the piano with different sounds for each hammer and got a whole arsenal of effects that way. For a honky-tonk piano, you just put staples in the hammers, or thumb-tacks, and get an overall saloon sound.

MDT: Were you aware of the prepared piano stuff that Ferrante & Teicher were doing with pop standards around that time, and have you ever experimented with prepared piano?

DH: I think I still have one of those prepared recordings of theirs, actually I have sometimes used some of the effects, for example using a soft mallet on the strings, chains, or sheets of paper. I've tried these effects on film or TV scores, and sometimes it's a good idea.

MDT: With the experimentation in sound that you did, when you were recording them, did you feel like "Moon Gas" or "Electric Eclectics" were any sort of important landmark, pioneering achievements? Do you take pride in these records?

DH: I take pride in them, sure. I liked doing them, and I like hearing them now. But at the time I didn't regard them as landmarks, and I'm not sure I would now. Understand that this was a wonderful time in the record business when every kind of invention was encouraged. It seemed that record companies were open for any suggestions. All manner of stuff was being recorded, because they suddenly found themselves needing entirely new stereo catalogues. It was the demand of the new technology; they simply wanted to record everything in the new "hi-fi," and we did the strangest kinds of albums... titles like "Music for Tired Golfers". Have you come across that one?

MDT: No! Did you work on that one?

DH: Yes, I played on that. I think LeRoy Holmes may have been the arranger/conductor. "Music for this" and "Music for that"... it was that kind of time.

MDT: I think that whole period where record labels were willing to try anything is what fuels the Cool & Strange Music! Magazine demographic, trying to discover just what all is out there. Would you have ever guessed that these albums would become such sought-after cult-favorite items decades later?

DH: No, I never would have thought that. I did have a sense of recording history and continuity, because I was a record collector early on, and knew about the 1920s and before. But I never would have thought "Music for Tired Golfers" would be a cult item later.

MDT: What do you think about the current interest in a lot of that stuff?

DH: I'm pleased by it. I marvel at it, and I'm glad I kept most of those things that I recorded... hmm, let's say many of those things that I recorded.

MDT: I'd imagine there's hundreds (thousands?!?) of albums you’re on from those decades.

DH: One of these days l'll have to put together a definitive discography, but at this point I still don't have the time. I used to get every new record that I was on, and I still pick up some items when I spot them in the bins. I have a wall of such records, but it gets self-defeating after a while - on some of those records you can't hear the piano or the organ, so what's the point? I understand collecting, though.

MDT: On that subject, I don't know if you're aware of this, but "Moon Gas" is basically the Holy Grail of Dick Hyman records among collectors, with its unusual sound and concept, plus being much harder to find than the Moog LPs.

DH: I didn't know it was that much of a collector's item, but it didn't sell very many, and I'd imagine it's long, long gone. I think that the MGM catalog ended up with either MCA or Polygram though.

MDT: Was "Moon Gas" largely improvised...?

DH: No, it wasn't improvised, it was all arranged and plotted out with instruments or techniques I was more or less familiar with. For example, dunking a vibrating cymbal into a pail of water (which makes the pitch rise) was something I'd read about. We actually did that... we really didn't think of the dangers of electrocution, and fortunately nothing went wrong. I think I'd read that this had been done in the past by John Cage. The other instruments were keyboards that l was more familiar with: the Ondioline, the Lowrey organ in particular, plus sound effects such as a doorbell, and especially Vinnie Bell.

MDT: Sort of why I asked, as it seems like it would be impossible to have a vocabulary of all those experimental sounds, like all those weird Vinnie Bell guitar noises.

DH: Vinnie was a man I got to know very early and I came to rely on him for many things, because he's a great inventor. He invented the use of those sounds, with the use of a pedal board with which he could control them and select them very quickly and efficiently. I relied on Vinnie a lot for that album, and for a lot after that...films and so forth. I had a rough idea of the sort of things that Vinnie could do, because I'd heard him do them on other dates. He had what I called an electronic waterfall effect and a sort of space mandolin, and various percussion devices which he used on off-beats, all kinds of reverb... very interesting things for that day. Now they're commonplace and part of the catalog you get with any tabletop keyboard, but as far as I know, Vinnie was the first to use them in a pop vocabulary.

MDT: He strikes me as someone way too underrated. While usage of his sort of guitar-effects technology has become more common, I still think there are a lot of his effects-work that sounds like nothing else l've ever heard come out of anybody else, even with electronic keyboards. I'm amazed there's not more of a fuss made about him considering the kinds of things he was up to then.

DH: He's still very much around. I believe he's been working in pit orchestras for the past few years, playing for the "Twin Peaks" TV show, and probably a lot of other things on the side. Vinnie played for me for "Everyone Says I Love You" - many sessions. A nice guy and a good friend.

MDT: Everyone in this whole circle of musicians, in my experience related to the Enoch Light stuff just seems so amiable, and there's a real sense of camaraderie and community with everybody.

DH: There was, there really was. We were all hiring each other all the time and meeting each other at other people's dates. Particularly with the Enoch Light group, there was a camaraderie. Enoch was very loyal to his coterie of players, and we did all sorts of things for him as a unit more or less. But all of us were all over town in every other studio at the same time, and as often as not, working for each other. This extended into a certain amount of social life too. There were various parties at each other's houses for one thing or another. We attended each other's children's weddings and Bar Mitzvahs and there was an annual party that was presented by an organization called the "Rinky Dinks" headed by Mona Hinton, Milt's wife. There really was a camaraderie. We still keep in touch, and sometimes we even still play together, but by now, of course, time has taken its toll.


A few more information about Dick Hyman, Mary Mayo and "Moon Gas" 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/

http://robertjaz.com/2014/06/happy-birthday-dick-hyman/

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

http://www.digitalinberlin.de/mary-mayo/

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/mary-mayo-mn0001321378/biography

http://dougpayne.blogspot.com/2010/02/rediscovery-moon-gas-dick-hymanmary.html

http://waxidermy.com/dick-hyman-mary-mayo-moon-gas/

http://www.discogs.com/Dick-Hyman-Mary-Mayo-Moon-Gas/release/2111137


If you have any other useful information about Dick Hyman, Mary Mayo and "Moon Gas" - 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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