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!



    If you download this file please consider leaving a comment, your feedback is important!

    Please let me know if the link is broken and I'll do my best to quickly fix it.

    1. Nice job! This is the best I've ever heard this album sound.

      Certainly "The Minotaur" was an influence on ELP's hit "Lucky Man" from the following year.

    2. I inherited this album from my father but lost it in one of my subsequent moves. Sounds as good as I remember!

  2. Thanks for your hard work. This is a great album.

  3. Nice job! This is the best I've ever heard this album sound.

    Certainly "The Minotaur" was an influence on ELP's hit "Lucky Man" from the following year.

  4. A great posting & mastering of a classic! Many thanx ~~~

  5. Fantastic job (as always!)

    I'm still hoping that one day you can do this quality of treatment to my favourite Dick Hyman album "The Man From O.R.G.A.N.

    Thanks for sharing your hard work :)

  6. You are doing outstanding work. I hope you keep it up.
    Dana Countryman

    1. Thank you Dana, I posted another Vinnie Bell album yestarday.

  7. Thanks for the great work, appreciated!

  8. Tonight my Living Room is singing like it's January 1969 (or better, given the "Hi Fi" I'm listening to) , and I'm an excited (admittedly left field) teenager unwrapping an eagerly awaited 12 inches of vinyl for the first time. Pouring over your wonderfully compiled details with your sonic mastery reminds me again of the good work to be found on the internet by people who truly care about things from the past.
    Thanks so much for everything you do.
    ~ Wombat62

    1. Hey, thank you so much, you're very kind. Hyman's "The Age of Electronicus" is coming in the next months!

  9. Sounds great!!! This was the first track on Command/ABC/Probe Records' compilation LP "The Command Revolution - The Spirited Sounds of 1969". Haven't heard it since my dad played the album in the 1970s.Thanks!

  10. Marvelous! Have no complaints. This blog is truly exceptional. Glad I stumbled across it. Great work.

  11. The preview clips had to be deleted from YouTube, sorry about that...

  12. Fantastic! It has been a long time since I was able to listen to the LP, but I definitely don't think it sounded this good

  13. Very interesting! The 2nd time I listened to this, I forgot to reset my AVR to "Stereo," leaving it set for "Surround Decode." The virtual surround played some interesting trick with Track 4 - "Tap Dance in the Memory Banks," creating an almost perfect Quadraphonic effect with the tap dance moving around from one speaker to another hitting all four corners.

  14. trying to find another killer track like "Give It Up or Turn It Loose " :)


Be nice, keep it clean, stay on topic, no spam, thank you!!!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...