Sunday, 24 December 2017


«The Startling Sounds of the Brave New Music World!... Singular, synthesized composition that heralds the future art of Sound-Expansion! This is the new sound of music: amazing, melodic electronic music played on the Moog synthesizer. These are not just the decorative sounds you usually hear from a synthesizer. These are compositions, specifically created for the synthesizer by Dick Hyman... Fascinatingly rhythmic melodies that move music in a fresh, exploratory direction. Dick Hyman's electronic themes provide an incredible, ear-opening glimpse into the new directions for popular music: music that may soon make every kind of music we have known before seem obsolete. The future comes vividly alive in the grooves of this record because Dick Hyman, Command Records and the Moog synthesizer play it not like it is, but like it will be.»

[from the back sleeve notes of "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman"]

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]

Hyman is best remembered among the Spage Age Bachelor Pad Music aficionados for his 1963 album with Mary Mayo - who provided otherworldy wordless vocals - the aptly entitled "Moon Gas" masterpiece, which was already covered here on Stereo Candies both in mono and stereo. As promised long ago, now it's time to take care about "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman", recorded in late 1968 using mainly the Moog Modular, «a cult-classic and a standout in the infancy of synthesizer album recording in its sophistication and original composition for the instrument.» [2]


[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

"Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman" inner gatefold

The following liner notes are included in the inner gatefold of "Moog - The Electric Elclectics of Dick Hyman". They describe the Moog Modular synthesizer to the uninitiated and illustrate the way Hyman approached this work, highlighting a few technical and musical details.

«The Moog synthesizer is a musical instrument that is still so new that not even those who have developed it know what its full musical potential may be.

Synthesizers have been used in recording studios before this, of course. They have often added freaked out electronic sounds to whatever a musical group produces with its regular instruments. They have provided decoration, color and feeling.

But now Dick Hyman has harnessed these provocative electronic synthesizer sounds. He uses the Moog synthesizer as a musical instrument - a total musical instrument - playing it three ways: unaccompanied, with accompaniment from live musicians, and even with accompaniment from a robot instrument.

"My objective is to humanize electronic music," said Dick, "as well as to humorize it and to play it as a full performance instead of a collection of unearthly sounds."

"Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman", original inner sleeve shows Command goodies...

What is a Moog synthesizer?

To the non-technical eye it consists of two short organ-like keyboards, and three cabinets with panels which contain knobs and jacks similar to a telephone switchboard so that various elements in the synthesizer can be linked or "patched".

When he sat down to play the synthesizer, Dick Hyman says he felt as though he were inside an airplane cockpit.

His link with reality was the fact that he has played all sorts of keyboard instruments from the piano and the organ to the Ondioline and the Ondes Martenot. As a result, he not only had confidence in his approach to the two keyboards but he had some experience and knowledge of the kinds of sounds he wanted to produce, particularly from his experience with electronic organs.

"I had to approach it as an organist," he said. To me, the synthesizer is like a super-organ because it includes everything that the different kinds of electric organs can do. The difference is that it can produce only one note at a time."

Dick could work the keyboard - but that's only part of the operation of a synthesizer. It also has to be programmed - the linkages have to be made by patching to create the types of sounds that the performer wants. This requires someone skilled in the technical operation of the synthesizer.

So, while Dick Hyman manipulated the keyboard, Walter Sear, technical specialist in Moog equipment did the programming, or patching.

"I would suggest the sound that I wanted," Dick explained, "and Walter would set it. Or he'd suggest a sound that he thought would fit in with what I was trying to do. Sometimes we'd stumble on something interesting while we were on the way to something else.

...and more goodies on the back!

Some of the pieces Dick played were composed before he reached the studio. On these set pieces, he used live musicians along with the Moog - Art Ryerson and Jay Berliner on guitars, Chet Amsterdam on Fender bass, and Buddy Salzman, drums, with Dick on honky-tonk piano.

Other selections were improvised in the studio. Dick constructed his improvisations from the sounds of the synthesizer, just as a sculptor might be inspired in his creation by the texture of the stone he was working with.

"I found," said Dick, "that it was much more interesting to create freely on the synthesizer in this fashion than to bend the machine to any preconceived ideas I might have had. In playing my prepared compositions, I had more control over the final result than in any other recording situation I've been in but because the instrument is so new and so unexplored, the final results were more unrelated to what I started out with than anything I've done before. The pieces that were developed in the studio, when I just went ahead and explored the instrument, went much more quickly. I'd say to Walter Sear, 'Surprise me with some sounds.' And he'd patch in something and I'd start to play whatever it suggested. That was the most fun."

In addition to the Moog synthesizer, Dick also used another electronic instrument on some pieces: a Maestro Rhythm Unit, a robot drummer that is normally used by organists in cocktail lounges to provide accompaniment. It is an electronic box decorated with push buttons marked "samba", "rhumba", "tango", "foxtrot", "rock and roll", "go-go", "boogaloo", ad infinitum. You push the button to get the desired rhythm and then adjust the machine to the specific tempo you want. The rhythm unit can be fed directly into the Moog synthesizer so that the unit's rhythmic aspects can be turned into tonal aspects.»

Dick Hyman, 1969

"Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman" contains the following tracks:

01. Topless Dancers of Corfu (3:03)
02. The Legend of Johnny Pot (2:01)
03. The Moog and Me (3:03)
04. Tap Dance in the Memory Banks (2:34)
05. Four Duets in Odd Meter (4:32)
06. The Minotaur (8:33)
07. Total Bells and Tony (2:03)
08. Improvisation in Fourths (2:26)
09. Evening Thoughts (3:25)

The following bonus track is taken from the promotional 7" single issued for radio stations, Command-ABC Records RS 45-7499 / RS 45-4126, pictured below:

10. The Minotaur (Short Version, Mono) (3:32)

All tracks were remastered in December 2017 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.

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

Dick Hyman - Moog Modular synthesizer, Lowrey organ, Honky-Tonk upright piano, Maestro rhythm unit, Echoplex tape delay unit, whistling
Art Ryerson - guitar
Jay Berliner - guitar
Chet Amsterdam - bass
Buddy Salzman - drums

All titles composed by Dick Hyman and published by Eastlake Music, Inc. (ASCAP).

Produced by Dick Hyman.

Associate Producer: John Turner

Synthesizer Programming: Walter Sear

Mastering: George Piros

Cover and liner design: Byron Goto and Henry Epstein

Recorded towards the end of 1968, "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman" was released by Command-ABC Records sometimes in early 1969 with catalogue number 938-S. A few sites mention a January release, and as a matter of fact, the album entered the Billboard Top 200 LP Chart on April the 19th. At the same time it was also released as an 8-track tape with catalogue number 803-938.

"Topless Dancers of Corfu" was chosen for single release, backed with "The Minotaur". This was the very first single featuring a Moog synthesizer to chart, reaching #27 on the Billboard R&B Singles and #38 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The public elected "The Minotaur" as their most favourite track, and a special single aimed at radio stations containing both an edited and a full version was also released. In some countries "Topless Dancers of Corfu" was confined to the flipside, replaced by the full version of "The Minotaur".

Subsequent pressings of the LP also included a «Featuring the Full Lenght Version of THE MINOTAUR» hype-box on the front cover. Driven by the appeal of this track, the album peaked at # 4 on the Billboard Jazz Chart and #30 on the Billboard Top 200 LP Chart.

Hyman's memories about the recording of "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman" and the subsequent "The Age of Electronicus" 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.

Side A opens with "Topless Dancers of Corfu". Greek music, which, along with Indian music, were two of the influences on Dick Hyman's musical creativity at the time the album was recorded, is the basis for this piece. This is one of the selections that Dick composed in advance, one on which he used a live rhythm section. Because the Moog Modular synthesizer can play only one note at a time and has only two keyboards, overdubbing was necessary to create fully harmonized melodies. ln the overdubbing process, Dick threw in some double speeded effects which reproduce as a high, bird-like sound. The sudden, rising, whistling sounds are unique to the synthesizer. "When you play the synthesizer keyboard as though it were a piano or organ, funny things happen," Dick said. "On a piano or an organ, if you're playing staccato and you hold a note for a second, it will fade away downward. But if you play a note in the same fashion on the synthesizer, it goes up. It's weird."

On "The Legend of Johnny Pot" Dick Hyman plays Lowrey organ as well as the synthesizer, backed by the live rhythm section on this bi-tonal and bi-rhythmic piece. The second tonality and the second rhythm were created when the Lowrey organ (the xylophone effect) was dubbed over the Moog synthesizer which produces the bell effect, the flying saucer sound and the bass line. The title comes from the whimsical but actual news report about a traveling adventurer who planted marijuana in fields all across the country and then sent letters to his friends telling them where he had planted it so that they could harvest it when it had grown.

Years ago, Dick Hyman established himself as a whistler when he made the first hit recording of "Mack the Knife". The tune then was still known by its original title, "Moritat", and Dick's whistling gave it a fascinatingly, exotically lonely feeling. On "The Moog and Me", a track that comes right halfway the first side of the album, he whistles and plays both piano and the synthesizer, accompanied by the Maestro Rhythm unit. "This," he said, "is the ultimate attempt to humanize the Moog." Notice the series of timbre changes he achieves in the synthesizer, somewhat similar to the effect that Jimi Hendrix used to get by using the wah-wah pedal on his guitar. And listen, too, to the breaks that Dick takes by turning off his rhythm unit briefly. This is done with a foot pedal. "With the Rhythm Unit you get perfect time," Dick commented, "but it has no initiative. Of course, this has its advantages. It doesn't talk back to you and it doesn't insist on having its own solos." Some elements from this track, most notably the whistle that serves as the lead-in, were sampled by Beck for the song "Sissyneck" on his 1996 album "Odelay".

Advertisement for the album taken from a 1969 issue of Billboard magazine

For "Tap Dance in the Memory Banks" Hyman turns to improvisation - something created by sitting down at the keyboard of the Moog synthesizer and composing with the materials at hand. The materials in this case include, in addition to the synthesizer, the Maestro Rhythm Unit. In feeling his way toward the finished composition and performance, Dick used the rhythm unit with the knobs turned so as to filter out certain elements. When he added a brass sound to this, he stumbled on the idea of turning the piece into a tap dance. "One of the early titles for the piece was 'Fred Astaire Meets Hal', the computer in the film 2001," Dick explained. "The rhythm unit is set on 'tango' with most of the elements filtered out. This dancer, however, is no Astaire. He sounds a little bit klutzy."

"Four Duets in Odd Meter" is made of four brief selections that were developed from a book written by Hyman, entitled "Duets in Odd Meter and Far Out Rhythms". Each duet is separated by four portentous strokes on a gong. In the second duet, Dick uses the 'instant atonality' that is possible on a Moog synthesizer. "Because the Moog can divide the keyboard into any units you want, not just the usual half tones," Dick explained, "the entire system of musical values becomes mixed up. A diatonic composition automatically comes out atonal." The third duet is changed by adding reverberation to each note. And in the final duet, Dick uses an Echoplex, a tape loop machine which plays back a note within seconds after it has been played so that the performer can use a note he has already played as part of his immediate total sound.

Side B starts with "The Minotaur" which, as already pointed out, was successfully released as a single and helped to boost the album's sale. Four elements are involved in this remarkably rhythmic and melodic improvisation. First is the Maestro Rhythm Unit which, instead of being set for a single rhythm, is blending two: a bossa nova and a waltz ("It comes out as a sort of oriental ¾." Dick Hyman commented). To this is added a drone effect, like a tamboura, played by the synthesizer. Then a bass line is laid in, also on synthesizer. Finally, the synthesizer produces the melody line. The style is a mixture of Indian and Greek musical influences: the basic set-up is drawn from the Indian mode while the germ of the idea for the solo melody came from a Greek record in Dick's collection. Because the robot drummer can become monotonous, Hyman played his bass patterns in such a fashion that it sounds as though the drummer is picking up ideas from the bass (although, in actuality, Dick's bass line anticipates the drummer). When the various tapes involved were being mixed, Hyman established the rate at which the melody moves back and forth between the speakers by actually pacing back and forth in the studio while the engineer worked his pots.

The Tony in "Total Bells and Tony" is Tony Scott, a jazz clarinetist, with whom Dick Hyman played on some of his earliest jazz jobs. The original idea for the piece was to base it on layer upon layer of bells - at least, bell sounds as created by the synthesizer. To give the bells a cascading effect, the Echoplex tape loop was used. Then Dick added a clarinet sound on the synthesizer. "When I heard it," he said, "it sounded rather like the way Tony Scott played, particularly when he made some recordings with Japanese musicians." In addition to playing three tracks of bells and one clarinet track, Dick also dubbed in a bass clarinet track which, like all the other tracks, was improvised on the synthesizer.

"The Minotaur / Topless Dancers of Corfu" single, French edition, front cover

The performance in "Improvisation in Fourths" is unique in that it is not only totally improvised but it was done with no overdubbing. This is the Moog synthesizer, pure and unaltered. The basis of the piece is the fact that a compound tone can be built on a Moog Modular somewhat in the same way as it is done on a Hammond organ. But while a Hammond can only be set for harmonic tones, the Moog can be set for any interval the performer desires. In this case, Dick Hyman set the synthesizer on fourths (but he did not use all the fourths because they did not all work as he had expected them to). The effect that is produced is very much like a flutter-tongue flute in jazz.

The original album ends with "Evening Thoughts", a mood piece where the Lowrey organ is mixed with the Moog synthesizer. "One of the problems of the synthesizer," Hyman pointed out, "is the difficulty of maintaining specific characteristics. A sound that is supposed to be wind sighing through the trees may turn into a storm and then into the sound of surf." This shifting of character can be heard in the decorative effects that accompany the melody, which is played first on the Lowrey organ and, in the middle, in theremin-like fashion on the Moog synthesizer. In back and through the melody glide the sounds of bird calls, a gentle tinkling and a 'white noise' that might be a breeze but which, as you listen to it, could just as well be surf. That's one of the chances you take with the music of tomorrow.

More information about Dick Hyman, "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman" and the Moog Modular synthesizer is available here:

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!

Saturday, 25 November 2017


This is the short final chapter in my attempt to reconstruct Vinnie Bell's path in the recorded music industry before his first single and debut album were released in 1960.

Previous posts have featured "Silently b/w Barracuda", a 1958 single by The Gallahads (...available here), and "Smoke Rings b/w Hawaiian Haze" by The Overtones, another 7" record released in 1959 (

Now is time to take care about the elusive The Spacemen and their "Jersey Bounce b/w Blast Off", which was also released in 1959.

The center labels of this release include the line "with Vinnie Gambella, guitar" on both sides, and Bell is also credited for the co-writing of "Blast Off" on Side B.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to find any information about The Spacemen, except the fact that they released another single the same year... It would be great if someone out there could shed some light on this group, thanks for your help as usual!

For a detailed biography of Vinnie Bell, I suggest that you read this other post of mine.

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

01. Jersey Bounce (2:36)
02. Blast Off (2:46)

Both tracks were remastered from vinyl in November 2017 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.

"Jersey Bounce b/w Blast Off" was released by Felsted Records US with catalogue number 45-8578-V sometimes during the summer of 1959.

All the websites that offer information about this record usually present "Blast Off" as Side A and "Jersey Bounce" as Side B. In my opinion this is incorrect because matrix numbers and the other reference numbers on the labels suggest the contrary: they are respectively ZTSP 60857-1 and FD 286 for "Jersey Bounce" and ZTSP 60858-3 and FD 287 for "Blast Off".

The copy in my possession comes in a plain white sleeve, but I guess that at the time of release it was probably offered in a company sleeve. I searched the web but I couldn't find any Felsted sleeves... I speculate that, being operated from London Records in New York, records in the Felsted catalogue may have been released with a London company sleeve similar to those that you can see here.

The record was reviewed in the August 30, 1959, issue of Billboard and - although confined in the 'Moderate Sales Potential' column of the 'New Pop 7" Records' section - Bell's guitar work was praised. Here's a transcription for "Jersey Bounce": «Effective guitar solo treatment of the catchy oldie. Good juke wax.» and "Blast Off": «Solid guitar solo work on haunting instrumental theme. Spinnable.»

Vinnie Bell in the early '60s

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

More information about The Spacemen and Vinnie Bell is available here:

If you have any other useful information about 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!

Tuesday, 31 October 2017


Oh me, oh me
I hate the morning after the night before
I know I can't take it anymore
I know I've said it once or twice before
I hate the morning after the night before

These bloodshot eyes now realize
those Mai Tais were the devil in disguise
If I could only find a way to stop this pile-driving pain
I promise that I'd never, ever, do it again
Do it again, do it again

Do it again, do it again
Go ahead, do it again

Oh me, oh me
I hate the morning after the night before
I know I can't take it anymore
I know I've said it once or twice before
I hate the morning after the night before

I feel the crutch of Planter's Punch
Martinis are no substitute for lunch
If I could only find a way to get this pain to leave my brain
I promise that I'd never, ever, do it again
Do it again, do it again
Do it again

Do it again, do it again
C'mon, do it again

Oh me, oh me
I should have just stayed in bed...

[from the lyrics of "I Hate the Morning (After the Night Before)"]

Here we are at last, very close to the end of the loooong series of posts I dedicated to Dick Jensen since October 2011. A lot of visitors of this blog have been requesting "The Writer" so many times, but two facts prevented me from offering it until now.

First of all I had to find a decent copy of the album and that hasn't been an easy task, believe me. This record is usually quite expensive on the second-hand market and most of the copies come with an autograph / dedication on the front or back cover, and the cover itself often suffer from ring wear...

At last, some three years ago I was lucky enough to purchase a sealed and untouched beautiful copy, but another factor delayed the publication of this post: my love/obsession for Chronology. If you're a recurring visitor of this blog I'm sure that you noticed that it is something I really care about and I always try my best to post according to that.

So, my apologies to all who have been requesting this album for so long: if you've been patient until now, I am sure that you will be satisfied with my digitization and remastering of such a precious gem.

Next in line in the following months will be the "Honolulu Girls / On the Beach" 7" single, which was released in the early '80s. I've always thought that it was the last Dick Jensen music release but I was wrong: only a few months ago I discovered with my greatest surprise that in 1985 he also released "True Spirit of Aloha", a religious album which is mentioned on a couple of Hawaiian websites.

Unfortunately I never had a chance to see a copy available for sale and I don't even know how the cover looks like... Since I am not a religious person I must admit that I am not particularly interested into it, but the parasitic completist that lives inside of me will never be satisfied until he's able to buy a copy. If you read these lines and can help him, I'll be glad to forward him your message... (8-)

Ok, enough said, here come the usual biographical notes. If you enjoy this post (...and the album...) don't forget to let me know about it in the comment section, thank you!

Jensen was a live musical performer of the Rhythm and Blues, Soul, and Gospel genres. A native Hawaiian athletic song stylist and a prime mover of nightclub shows inspired by Little Richard, whose "white hot soul" electrified audiences with his belting voice and imposing physical performances.

Jensen earned the sobriquet "The Giant" because of his tall stature, but he had a talent to match that nickname. His signature on-stage style incorporated strenuous dance moves similar to those of Jackie Wilson; he was noted for his glide - a proto-Moonwalk - well before Michael Jackson made it fashionable; just have a look at this clip on YouTube.

Jensen's music career began in 1959 and during the next fifteen years he moved back and forth between the Continental U.S. and Hawaii several times. He soon established himself as a singer in the Islands and in 1965 he got a contract with Loma Records.

During the late '60s / early '70 he often performed at several hotels and casinos and guested on many TV shows. His first album, entitled "White Hot Soul" (...available here...) was released in late 1969.

His potential as a national mainstream recording artist resulted in a contract with Philadelphia International, one of the top Soul music labels of the early 1970s. His "Dick Jensen" album was released in early 1973, but unfortunately sales were low and Jensen's tenure with the legendary label was very short...

For a detailed biography of Dick Jensen covering his career up till the early '70s please have a look at this other post of mine: "Dick Jensen - An Entertainer Without a Hit Record (Part 1, 1942-1972)".

Dick Jensen as he appears on the back cover of "The Writer"

Jensen returned to Honolulu around 1974 or 1975 and quickly re-estabilished himself as a local showroom star with engagements at the Hula Hut and at the Empire Room on the Oceania Floating Restaurant; the latter was jammed night after night for eight years.

Jensen's signature number, a fanciful comic story about the Lone Ranger and Tonto in which he single-handedly created all the voices and sound effects, was always a highlight, and every bit as impressive as his singing, dancing and overall showmanship... You can catch a glimpse of this performance - and much more - in the tribute video available on YouTube.

So, what do you do if you're a first class performer, you've written new songs but you find yourself without a recording contract? For some reason Jensen thought the best option was to self-release his own fresh material on a private label created on purpose, the evocative Record Club of Honolulu.

Produced and arranged by Don Costa for his Don Costa Productions Inc., "Giant of Hawaii" (...available here...) was released sometimes in mid/late 1976. Around the same time, a single containing two cuts from the album, namely a mono version of "Cloudy Mornin'" on Side A and a stereo version of "Love Shack" on the flipside, also appeared. The single, whish was probably aimed at radio promotion and rarely shows up for sale nowadays, is available here.

In 1978 Jensen had a small part in a TV movie entitled "The Islander". I desperately tried to find a copy of this movie or at least more information about it, but all I could come up with is this short synopsis.

During 1979 Jensen worked on a new album with Bartolome 'Bart' Bascone, a veteran Island musician, conductor, composer and arranger best known for his novelty song "Who Is the Lolo (Who Stole My Pakalolo)", which Don Ho recorded and made a radio hit in 1977. On a side note, Bascone also released two albums of his own compositions which are quite worth investigating... But now let's move on to "The Writer".

"The Writer" contains the following tracks:

01. I Hate the Morning (After the Night Before) (3:24)
02. You Keep Turning Me On (3:06)
03. Windward Lady (3:32)
04. Wanna Get in Your Pants (6:12)
05. Our Last Aloha (5:19)
06. Better Slow Down (3:28)
07. Lady Love (3:28)
08. Kong Chiki Kong (3:50)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in October 2017 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with complete artwork reconstruction and printable PDF files.

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

"The Writer" was probably released sometimes in late 1979 on Giant Records, which I strongly suspect was nothing else but another one-off label created by Dick Jensen, just like the previous Record Club of Honolulu. I lean toward the late 1979 release date because on the spine is written "(C) 1979 Giant Records", even if the catalogue number assigned to this album is GRS 1980. My opinion is that the album was printed at the end of 1979 but it was given that catalogue number to make it look more fresh when it was first marketed during the next months.

The record comes in a sober black and white sleeve. Both on the front and back, Jensen is portrayed with an acoustic guitar, wearing comfortable light-coloured clothes and sandals. The image on the front cover gives a sense of calmness and looks like it was printed on a canvas; more probably it is not a photograph, but a sketch based on a photograph or something like that. In the picture on the back cover we notice that Jensen is wearing a medallion. It looks like a lion, but since he was born under the Aries sign it could also be a ram. Whatever it is, I guess it was much important to him since it can be seen in many other pictures that date back to the late '60s, a lucky charm maybe...

The cover is in deep contrast with the one featured three years earlier on the previous LP. Even the choice of the album title looks more meditative. The message that I perceive is that, due to the fact that at the time Jensen was widely acknowledged both as a singer and a performer, he also wanted to be recognised as an author. Of course this is my personal interpretation and I could be completely wrong. As a matter of fact, the album featured almost solely songs that he had written (seven out of eight) and this was happening for the first time in a long career.

Anyway, including a contagious Disco track and a few other lively Soul and Funk numbers, the album is not completely laid-back as the cover would suggest... Just like for the previous "Giant of Hawaii", most of the copies of "The Writer" that are usually put up for sale on eBay or similar websites are signed with a big marker by Jensen himself and often come with dedications. This undoubtedly means that most copies of the album were sold directly to people at his live shows as a souvenir of the performance: Jensen probably took the time to have a word with the audience and sign his records after the show...

Dick Jensen 1969/1979: the medallion is still the same...

Side 1 opens with "I Hate the Morning (After the Night Before)", whose lyrics you can read at the top of the post. It is a simple number but it is probably significant for what concerns Jensen's habits at the time. Almost two decades in the show-business were starting to take their toll and The Giant was caught in between the need to lead a quieter existence and the temptations of nightlife.

"You Keep Turning Me On" is one of the most fascinating tracks on the album, and a work of class for sure. The gentle percussion underlayer keep the rhythm moving, while the string machine creates a compelling atmosphere. The phased female backing vocal are just the icing on the cake and there's not a single note too much in this perfect piece, great!

We keep sailing along with "Windward Lady", another piece that wouldn't have made a poor showing on an album that Jensen could have released on Philadelphia International if they didn't decide to drop him. As I wrote elsewhere, I can only imagine what he could have done if only the label had kept on supporting him. Although Jensen's voice was not deep and smooth as Lou Rawls', his late '70s releases come to mind. Here's the lyrics to this beautiful song which I'm pretty sure Jensen dedicated to his wife at that time:

Windward lady, she's a special lady
and she never lets me down
Windward lady, she's a special lady
with both feet on the ground

We leave two lives so differently
me and my music, her and the family
She keeps them strong, I sing my songs
that lady does no wrong

Windward lady, she's a special lady
and she never lets me down
Windward lady, she's a special lady
with both feet on the ground

Some days we share with family and friends
breaking bread together again
After all it is said and done
she's still number one

Windward lady, she's a special lady
and the world should know
she's the one, she's the only one
and I love her, and I love her so
I love her so, I love her so
I love her so, I love her so

She's a windward lady, she's a special lady
she's a windward lady, she's a special lady

"Wanna Get in Your Pants", the last track on Side 1 seems to have been recorded - or at least mixed - in a completely different manner than the rest of the album. The original mix was almost mono compared to the other tracks and I had to invest a lot of energies and time to come up with a version that is more coherent with them. Maybe a 12" single has been taken in consideration at a certain point, who knows... Anyway, I guess that the title says it all, this is a commercial Disco affair with repetitive and explicit lyrics that also offers long instrumental parts and breaks.

Side 2 starts with "Our Last Aloha", which is the only song included on the album that was not penned by Jensen himself. The music and lyrics for this number were written by Bart Bascone, who also co-produced "The Writer". The song was originally included on Bascone's debut LP entitled "Makapuu", which nowadays has become such a rarity. Luckily enough, South Korean label Big Pink Music has re-issued the album on CD in 2013 and copies can still be found for a decent price. For his version, Jensen has slightly changed some lines and has also added a short rappin' à la Isaac Hayes... Here's the lyrics of this song:

Aloha means 'I love you'
Aloha also means 'Goodbye'

Baby, I lost it a long time ago
that love I had for you
but I found the courage to tell you how I feel
and say what is really real

Maybe I should have left you all by yourself
to settle your mind without me
Too many times I just followed you around
swallowed all the pride I had

Baby, this is our last aloha
this is our last goodbye
this is our last aloha
the feeling has finally died

I treasured everything about you
'cause loving you, loving you, is all I ever knew
But baby, you just kept pushing me away
pushing me, until all I have to say is goodbye

This is our last aloha
this is our last goodbye
this is our last aloha
the feeling has finally died

goodbye, goodbye
the feeling has finally died

Oh, this is our last aloha
this is our last goodbye
this is our last aloha
that feeling has finally died

This is our last aloha
this is our last goodbye
this is our last aloha

The album proceeds with "Better Slow Down", a song which is arranged and played in an almost Funky manner, with slapped bass and Clavinet in the background, sort of... I am not sure if I got the lyrics' meaning right - Jensen's voice is not that clear in this piece - but it may be about not running too fast in a new relationship or the need of a breath of air during a sexual intercourse which might end too soon or... who knows!

Once again, with "Lady Love" I can't help but think about the albums that Lou Rawls cut with Philadelphia International during the same period that Jensen self-released "Giant of Hawaii" and "The Writer". There's no justice in this world... Interestingly enough, a song with the same title was recorded by Rawls himself a couple of years earlier, uhm... Could it be that Jensen was somehow inspired by Rawls' original? Who knows... and who cares, because this is another example of perfection and for sure one of my favourites from the album. One of the best songs that The Giant has ever recorded and produced during his career, full stop.

The album closes with "Kong Chiki Kong", a piece which - according to the original liner notes - was inspired by Sammy Davis, Jr. who was befriended by Jensen back in the days of his tenure in Vegas during the late '60s / early '70s. The song is an uptempo number which feature the only electric guitar solo on the album.

To end this post, here's the original credits and personnel list as they're printed on the back cover of "The Writer":

Music and words by Dick Jensen, except "Our Last Aloha" by Bart Bascone.

Musicians include:
Kata Maduli - bass
John Rapoza - guitar
Glenn Goto - keyboards
Mike Kennedy - drums
Vernon Kalama - percussions

(Backing vocals and horn section are uncredited...)

Produced by Dick Jensen.
Co-produced by Bart Bascone.

Thanks to Sammy Davis, Jr. for inspiring "Kong Chiki Kong" and to Don Costa for the thought.

Thanks to my lovely wife, Judy, for giving me my space to do this album.

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

More information about Dick Jensen is available here:

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.

If you have any other useful information about 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!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017


Brian Lawrence Bennett was born in Palmers Green, North London, on February 8th, 1940. His interest in music dated from an early age, and as a small child he used to listen to radio broadcasts from the Aeolian Hall. Soon he was hooked on the sounds of Glenn Miller and the other Big Bands of the era.

He became fascinated by drums and percussion and lists Gene Krupa, Louis Bellson and, especially, Buddy Rich as his early musical heroes. By 1953, Brian had saved up enough money to purchase a rudimentary drumkit and he practiced constantly. Before long he was performing regularly with his school orchestra and youth club big bands.

He began playing professionally even before he left school, with his own Tony Brian Trio and The Esquires Dance Band. He also began composing music and writing songs from the age of fourteen onwards.

Brian's initial background was in Jazz and Swing, but by 1956 - the year he left school at sixteen to play drums in a Ramsgate skiffle group performing for holiday makers - he was equally adept at playing Rock'n'Roll. «It wasn't originally by choice», recalled Brian, «but there were more and more jobs being offered and I didn't want to turn them down!».

A teenage prodigy, he became the house drummer at the legendary 2i's Cofee Bar - now known as the birthplace of British Rock'n'Roll - in London's Soho, backing artists like Tony Sheridan, Terry Dene, Vince Eager and Vince Taylor, and from there he earned a regular spot on the Jack Good's legendary TV music showcase Oh Boy!.

By 1959, Bennett was regarded as one of the top Rock & Roll drummers in England and one of the most sought-after percussionists around. That year he joined The Wildcats, the backing band of Rock & Roll singer Marty Wilde. He remained with Wilde for two years, also playing outside live gigs with stars such as Tommy Steele, and in 1960 he embarked on the legendary tour featuring Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent and Marty Wilde.

When Marty embarked upon a career in films and musicals, The Wildcats evolved into The Krew Kats and cut a brace of fine instrumentals, including a stunning version of Chet Atkins' "Trambone". After a brief stint as an orchestral pit drummer, in October of 1961 lightning struck for Bennett's career when Tony Meehan - then regarded as the top drummer in England - quit The Shadows, who were then the top Rock & Roll British band as well as the backing group for Cliff Richard, the top singer in the field.

The opening was one of the most coveted in the country - The Shadows were regularly topping the charts in their own right, and their concerts with Richard were riotous affairs, huge sell-outs in front of hordes of screaming fans across England - Bennett was offered the spot. He accepted and was with the group across a string of hit singles and albums, lasting through their intended official breakup in 1968, on the occasion of the group's tenth anniversary as a professional band.

His drumming talents were but one aspect of his monumental musical contribution to the band. He wrote or co-wrote over 100 tracks for them, as well as over 20 compositions for Cliff Richard... He also earned his first Ivor Novello award for composing the title theme to the movie "Summer Holiday", which starred Richard and the band - he also contributed songs to their subsequent movies, up through "Finders Keepers".

A favourite feature for the audience at any Shadows' concert was always his drum solo, with "Little B" - a must showcase for every Beat-Drummer in the pre-Beatles era - perhaps being the best known and highly regarded piece which has inspired countless drummers over the years and is still performed now by budding young drummers at Shadows' music clubs throughout the U.K.

Many drummers back then considered each new Shadows' record as a drum lesson - learning how to play the fills in classic tunes such as "The Rise and Fall of Flingel Bunt" and "Foot Tapper".

In 1967 Bennett released his first solo LP exploring Jazz and Easy Listening territories with the aptly entitled "Change of Direction", which was followed in 1969 by "The Illustrated London Noise", a return to Rock and Funky music.

Following the 1968 "farewell" Shadows concert, he participated along with lead guitarist Hank Marvin and bassist John Rostill in the band's brief 1969 reunion for a tour of Japan.

By the early '70s Brian was a highly successful and much sought after session drummer working with a vast array of different artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Olivia Newton-John, Engelbert Humperdinck, Richard Harris, The Walker Brothers and many more.

With The Shadows on extended hiatus, Bennett turned to other areas of music. He'd already developed some insights into the mechanics of music through his work as a songwriter, and he took a correspondence course in arranging and orchestration that, when added to his natural ability as a composer, ended up reshaping his whole career. He'd always provided vocals on the Shadows' own recordings, and now he re-established his performing credentials on the piano as well as the vibraphone.

He became Cliff Richard's musical director and formed The Brian Bennett Orchestra touring the world including the first Western rock concerts performed in Russia. Even more important, amid the string of hit albums with Richard that followed, he also started writing music for movies / television and part of this huge load of work was published on many library records by specialized labels like KPM Music and Bruton Music.

Brian Bennett in his studio, circa late '70s

In 1977 he published his third proper solo album, "Rock Dreams", available here and credited to the Brian Bennett Band, which was followed the next year by "Voyage - A Journey Into Discoid Funk", a Disco/Funk opus that was recently remastered and re-released on vinyl and digital download. 1979 was also a busy year for Bennett, who was commissioned a Disco album by EMI; the result was "One Step Ahead", the subject of this post, credited to the Heat Exchange project.

Later on, Brian developed yet another career composing music for films. During the '80s, he was awarded his second Ivor Novello award (for 25 years services to music) and wrote music for a wide range of programmes including "Dallas", "Knotts Landing", "Pulaski", The Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer (!!!), the "BBC Golf" theme, "The Sweeney", Dennis Hopper's film "The American Way" and Ellen Barkin and David MacCallum's "Terminal Choice". In 1990, he won his third Ivor Novello award for Best Score For a Television Series (The Ruth Rendell Mysteries).

From the 1990s to 2000, he was in demand more than ever and he composed music for the long-running series "The Knock", "Nomads of the Wind", "Global Sunrise", "Living Britain", "Dirty Work", "David Jason In His Element" and Hansjörg Thurn's film "The Arpist".

In 2001 Bennett was the proud recipient of the Gold Badge Award given by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. He also won the Royal Television Society Craft & Design Awards 2000/2001 for Best Original Title Music for "Murder In Mind". In 2004 he was awarded an OBE and collected his award from The Queen at Buckingham Palace.

In 2009 and 2010 Cliff Richard and The Shadows embarked on a 50th anniversary tour with 36 shows in the U.K., Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. More recently, Bennett wrote with his son, Warren, 24 episodes of the award-winning TV series "New Tricks". He also recorded and produced an album with Cliff Richard and The Shadows.

In 2015 he worked on a musical called "Soho" and the music for a production called "Starchild". His latest album, entitled "Shadowing John Barry - New Recordings for Guitar and Orchestra", was released in February 2016... Although he will always be associated with The Shadows, playing drums for them is merely one aspect of a glittering musical career.

"One Step Ahead" contains the following tracks:

01. You're Gonna Love This (7:07)
02. Shake Down (6:55)
03. Love Is the Reason (7:58)
04. One Step Ahead (6:25)
05. Check It Out (5:52)
06. Lost On You (7:04)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl and CD re-issue in September 2017 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.

"One Step Ahead" was released in the U.K. by EMI with cat. number EMC 3306 sometimes in 1977. The album was also released on cassette with cat. number TC-EMC 3306 and spawned a 12" single that featured "Shake Down" b/w "You're Gonna Love This" (12EMI 2988); edited versions of the same tracks were also released as a 7" single (EMI 2988).

In 1994, the album was re-released on CD by See For Miles Records under their C-Five Records inprint. The booklet offers precious information about Bennett and the album. The original notes were compiled by Rob Bradford, the following is a slightly edited and updated version:

«In 1985 Brian Bennett was delighted when he was commissioned to provide the complete score for the film "Terminal Choice". «Basically», he remarks, «I got that job because it was financed and set up in America. To the Americans, I was just another composer and they judged my music purely on its own merits. That was great. No preconceptions, you see? The majority of Americans have never even heard of The Shadows». In conversation it's a theme he returns to over and over again. The dangers of being musically typecast or pigeonholed. He cites many instances where he feels that his music has been dismissed as out of hand. Something along the lines of: "Brian Bennett? Isn't he The Shadows' drummer? We're looking for a musician, a composer - not a drummer!" In actual fact, playing drums for The Shadows for almost thirty years is only one facet of Brian's immense musical talent. His contribution to The Shadows was monumental and he will always, inevitably, be associated with them. However, Brian's other musical ventures have been both numerous and varied and his output of music as a composer has been truly prodigious.

Brian was always much more than just a beat group drummer. He studied the violin and musical theory for many years and successfully completed a course on orchestral arranging. In 1967 he released "Change of Direction", thus making him the first Shad to release a solo album. It was to be the first of many such projects. During the '70s Brian became a top session drummer as well as beginning his prolific output of library, TV and film music.

Heat Exchange was a commission that Brian undertook in 1979. He'd heard that EMI were looking for an album in the style of the then current Funk / Disco craze. «It all sprang from the New York club scene,» recalls Brian, «The Bee Gees struck lucky with "Saturday Night Fever" and then everyone went disco crazy. But one of the true originators was a guy called Sylvester. He was my starting point.» Sylvester James, Jr. was the doyen of disco music singers; his biggest hits were "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" and "Dance (Disco Heat)".

As ever, Brian assembled a talented team of musicians including: Rickie Hitchcock (guitar), Les Hurdle (bass) and Mike Moran (keyboards). The vocalist we are not at liberty to divulge. I can tell you that he was British and has had chart success in his own right... «Guaranteed anonynimity was one of the conditions he insisted upon. He only did it as a one-off, for the money. But, I have to say that he was utterly brilliant. I've a feeling that Cliff Hall was on some tracks as well. For "Shake Down", I got Chris Lawrence to play the bass line. He had a genuine, groovy, pumping funk-disco style. I'm no lyricist. I enlisted a guy called Dave Jordan. He and I were on the staff of ATV music. He was someone I knew from weekly team meetings. I also had a brass section on there. I was thinking of stuff like Earth, Wind & Fire... Isaac Hayes and so on. I'd go over the scores with them... make suggestions... while we were all sitting around with drinks. All very relaxed. I wanted a party atmosphere. Then, they'd just cut it... live in the studio... hit a groove. I was delighted with it. When the whole thing was completed, I took it to Stirling Sound Studios in Manhattan to get it cut and mastered, to achieve that big 'Tuff' sound. Another thing that's worth mentioning is that all the drumming and percussion is yours truly. By that I mean that there are no drum machines, drum boxes, samplers, synth drums or whatever. No effects at all.»

It certainly does sound remarkably authentic. So authentic that it would have surely been chart material if given to a 'name' disco act to cover. This wasn't pastiche, it was Brian composing in a definite style. I asked Brian if he was pleased with the end product, particularly with regard to its authentic Disco style. «I was quite pleased with it. As a composer, you should be able to adapt to any particular style. Very few people realised it was me. It had the words 'Produced by B.L. Bennett' somewhere on the sleeve, in very small print. That was deliberate. The reviews were great in that they said things like... 'A tight set obviously recorded by top New York session men.' Great. It just goes to show that some critics don't know who they're listening to, or what they're talking about!»

"One Step Ahead", original rejected front cover artwork reconstruction

My copy of the album contains some notes - handwritten by the previous owner on the Side 2 center label - about the musicians featured on the recordings. Some of them are confirmed by Bennett himself in the interview that is quoted on the 1994 CD re-release; unfortunately the name of the singer remains a mystery... The picture above is based upon a tiny image included on the booklet of the aforementioned CD album.

Here's the credits and personnel list of "One Step Ahead":

Les Hurdle: bass
Chris Lawrence: bass on "Shake Down"
Rickie Hitchcock: guitar
Mike Moran: keyboards
Cliff Hall: additional keyboards
Dave Lawson: additional keyboards
Frank Ricotti: percussion
Brian Bennett: drums
Vicky Brown: backing vocals

All songs by Brian Bennett, except "Lost On You" written by Brian Bennett and Warren Bennett.

Lyrics on "Shake Down", "Love Is the Reason" and "Check It Out" by Dave Jordan.

Arranged and produced by Brian Lawrence Bennett.

Mastered at Sterling Sound, New York.

Brian Bennett playing drums

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

More information about Brian Bennett is available here:

If you have any other useful information about Brian Bennett, Heat Exchange and "One Step Ahead" - 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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