Tuesday, 30 October 2018

DICK HYMAN "THE AGE OF ELECTRONICUS" (1969)

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

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



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

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



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

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

Sources:

[1] from Wikipedia

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

[3] from Space Age Pop Music


"The Age of Electronicus" outer gatefold reconstruction


"The Age of Electronicus" inner gatefold reconstruction


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

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

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

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


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


"The Age of Electronicus" contains the following tracks:

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

Bonus tracks:

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

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

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


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

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

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

Billy LaVorgna - drums

Arranged and Produced by Dick Hyman.

Programming by Walter Sear.

Mixing: Fred Christie at Fine Recording

Mastering: Lee Hulco at Sterling Sound

Cover and Liner Design: Byron Goto / Henry Epstein

Photos: Roger Pola / Eric Goto




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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


"Green Onions / Aquarius" single, Side A

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

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

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

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

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


"Green Onions / Aquarius" single, Side B

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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




















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

http://www.dickhyman.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

15 comments:

  1. DOWNLOAD LINK

    https://mega.nz/#!cIl...

    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.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Another stupendous creative salute to some wonderful audio!
    Thanx.............

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for this labour of love!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Stunning presentation as always!

    Looking forward to future releases (especially The Man from O.R.G.A.N.)

    hint...hint... :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks everybody!

    Yes, recently I managed to purchase a nice vinyl copy of "The Man From O.R.G.A.N." and it will be my pleasure to feature it on the blog. However, it won't happen in the next months because I already have many other titles queued, but I guess I'll be able to work on it sometime in mid/late 2019, you have my word.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Candyman, you are a LEGEND!!!!

    I've been wishing for an official release of that for years but obviously the labels aren't interested.
    It will be amazing to finally get a "proper" release from yourself. I love the care and attention you put into your transfers, you really are putting the big labels to shame with your work.

    Sounds like a pretty long wait but I'll be here :)

    Thanks again for all your hard work Candyman.

    ReplyDelete
  7. LEGEND is right!

    I've just replaced my previous version of the album with yours and the results are astonishing.
    You have opened up the air and space between the individual tones, and now even the more 'challenging' tracks have a new depth, and are way more listenable.
    A minute ago during "Blackbird" (at about 2:14) the shimmering sound of a flock of said birds flew overhead from the front to rear speakers, where before the sound was so shrill, I'd be grasping for the remote volume control!
    Clarity is king, and it reigns supreme here on your site.
    Thanks again, Candyman :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The above 'Anonymous' = Wombat62

      Delete
  8. I found this on vinyl for 50 cents in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1989 at some used shop. Flipping through records, I found it, opened the gatefold and found a really flat, ancient dried bud of marijuana. I closed the gatefold, promptly paid my 50 cents and scrammed. I've never been the same since! thanks for this!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome! Eh eh, once I found an early '70s porn magazine hidden in a copy of the "2001: A Space Odissey" soundtrack LP... (8-)

      Delete
  9. Thanks Candyman, a great addition to my collection!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I just found this site and happy to see this and "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman"!

    Once upon a time, a couple downsizings ago, I had several Dick Hyman records that I hope to find clean downloads of, including the above mentioned "The Man from O.R.G.A.N." AND I had a promo set of 3 LPs sold by Baldwin that Included Dick Hyman playing a Baldwin organ that would be really cool to find again. I have some organ CDs that I copied from LPs, but those 2 too badly worn to be worth copying with the software I had at the time.

    Thank you for a great web site:

    ReplyDelete
  11. very pleased by the quality of your pledge work e downloadable working link.
    ITALIAN CDR ARMY

    ReplyDelete
  12. thank you so much, i am really enjoying these !!

    ReplyDelete

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

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...