Marty Gold - Moog

“Less than a decade ago this would have sounded like a preposterous title,
for nobody knew then what either a Moog or a Beatle was.”

AVE 33003

Admittedly this is not one I found in the dollar bin, though I suppose in some small, unsuspecting towns one might find an old weathered copy forgotten and buried somewhere. This one was too special, and I was willing to fork over a small chunk of cash for a copy in excellent condition. This is truly one of my most prized records from this era. The Moog synthesizer was gaining a lot of attention by the mid-late 60’s. And of course, everyone was crazy about The Beatles! What better way to grab an audience’s attention than to meld their favorite tunes with the latest music technology? I have no idea how well this record actually did commercially, but fans of pioneering electronic music must savor this one.

Working in conjunction with William Sear, who had worked with Robert Moog for many years, Marty Gold wanted to show people just what the synthesizer was capable of and perhaps make it more accessible. While the Casual Listener might not appreciate the amazing technology of this machine, they could appreciate its power to create compelling music.

Marty Gold - Moog left interior

The resulting collection of arrangements is a super psychedelic space-capade! The album starts out with a real far-out banger in “Eleanor Rigby”, definitely the stand out track (listen below). It then drifts into the trippy “Norweigan Wood”, followed by a dreamy “Yesterday”. Then comes a more straight-forward but groovy as ever “Get Back” with Moog “vocals”. “Penny Lane” wraps up the first side.

Holy moly, you’re in for a real treat as Side 2 opens up with “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” in all its video-game-esque glory. If you thought the original was a great track to drug out to, your trip would probably be ten-fold with this version. We then come to the heavy wah-wah-ed out “Michelle”, followed by equally compelling tracks “Hey Jude” and “In My Life”. “The Fool On The Hill” follows gloriously, and the album wraps up with the serene lullaby “Good Night”.

I should note that the tracks are not 100% synthesized – there are plenty of other traditional analog instruments, but the Moog certainly is the star. There are no vocals, either, aside from Moog itself.

The cover art on this one is peculiar, featuring two naked figurines of each sex placed in front of a plastic-lined, psychedelic-looking title. You get the rear view (literally) on the back of the gate-fold sleeve.

So I have a confession to make – this is actually the closest thing to a Beatles album I even own. A little astonishing and perhaps somewhat embarrassing for someone who loves so much music that was inspired by them. It’s not that I am not a fan, I have just never been compelled to pick up any records, mainly because it’s such a tough and overwhelming enterprise to enter into at this point. Where would I even BEGIN? Of course I know lots of Beatles SONGS and spent time with some albums when I was younger, as my other owns several, but I am generally not too savvy with their catalog.

In talking about space-age electronic music, I must go off on another tangent about how I found my way to this era. It’s not all that mysterious, as I have always loved electronic music that came out of the 1980s, particularly the kind you can dance to. My favorite artists growing up were OMD, New Order and the Pet Shop Boys to name a few. My older brother also listened to a lot of hip hop in the 1980s, which got me really turned on to the beats, and I later fell in love with a lot of Electro and Bass music (can’t resist that Roland TR-808 kick!). As I began to follow the roots deeper, I became intrigued with Moog and other pioneers like Raymond Scott (post-Quintette).

In listening to this record of Marty Gold’s, I am reminded of one of the spaciest Electro tracks out there by The Jonzun Crew that came out just 14 years later on Tommy Boy Records, a track (and group) which would not have existed without innovations made in the 1950s and 1960s. I think Marty Gold (and Robert Moog) would have agreed – SPACE IS THE PLACE!!





By the third entry, I knew I needed to get to the cheesecake, which is half the fun of collecting these records. This is by far one of my favorite covers of the era. I had heard a couple tracks from Bob Thompson online and was stoked to come across an actual copy of the record one day in Eureka, CA at The Works on one of my trips up north (I’m in the Bay Area). They are a small-medium sized shop with a modest but quality collection, and I always find really awesome exotica and easy-listening consignment LPs in their bins. There are one or two collectors that dump real gems there, and there is usually something special awaiting me. This I found for about $5. (On a side note, I’m still on the hunt for his ON THE ROCKS LP, which has equally compelling cover art.)

The great news is that the recordings are just as titillating as the cover image. This particular album uses the chorus for much of the instrumentation and melody. Lots of “dooby-dooby-dooby-doos” and “wah-wah-wah-wahs”. The attention-grabber on this LP is the opening (and title) track, “Mmm, Nice!”, a Thompson original. The only actual words are the title itself repeated throughout, with one variation: “Mmm, nice, baby!”. It is otherwise full of flirty choral verses, sounding a little like a strip-tease soundtrack, in all honesty. I can imagine a wanton housewife (or secretary) trying to seduce her husband (or boss) to this. It prances around slowly until the swinging horns swell for the climax. I love starting off loungier sets with this, because it really sets the mood, if ya knowhutimean.

Similarly playful romps can be found in “Ain’t We Got Fun”, “Do It Again”, and another Thompson original, “Playboy”. Other standards and showtunes include “The Song Is You” and “Hello, Young Lovers”.

The sleeve notes reveal that he was a fellow UC Berkeley student and also worked for KMBC and KGO in San Fransisco, hailing originally from San Jose. This is an interesting excerpt from the Bob Thompson website:

“Bob went to UC Berkeley for a year and was soon frustrated by the musical conservatism of his teachers, and equally inspired by be-bop music emanating from Telegraph Avenue’s record stores. Some of these be-bop harmonies were considered ‘improper’ by his teachers, which reminded Bob of the limitations of his ‘square’ high school music teacher. He left college but continued to take private instruction from a like-minded professor of music. Soon he was back at KGO, writing arrangements for the house orchestra. This experience and weekly tutoring sessions with Dr. Denny turned Bob into a formidable arranger of music.”

And from the sleeve notes of MMM, NICE!:

“Thompson’s kind of imaginative talent–as conductor, composer and arranger–is rare these days. Discarding the standard file of musical clichés, Thompson has created a choral-orchestral sound he can justifiably call his own. It’s a decidedly jazz-influenced sound, too, which undoubtedly accounts for the rhythmic force so much a part of Thompson’s composing and arranging. What is most important, the Thompson sound is a vividly refreshing one. You don’t have that ‘I’ve heard that before’ feeling at any time during your audit of his music.” – Don Gold / Assistant Editor, Playboy Magazine

KLAUS WUNDERLICH – SOUND 2000 (Telefunken, 1973)


“You certainly know the sound of the synthesizer from the number ‘Popcorn’.
This instrument offers a musician and technician who likes experimenting an enormous
number of possibilities since every sound and noise can now be ‘synthetically’ produced…

The only normal instruments on this record are: drums, tambourine and bongos.
All the others, including the bass and even cowbells, were produced by the synthesizer.”

This HAD to be the second entry. Just as my heart pitter-patters for Enoch Light, so it flutters for Klaus Wunderlich. Yes, his name is fun to say (KLOWS VUNDERLICK! KLOWS VUNDERLICK!), but he is oh so much fun to listen to, too! In a way, I see Klaus as the German, expert Hammond-playing version of Enoch Light. They both seem to have a certain zany aesthetic and a love for various layers and sound effects. Many of his records feature Hammond Organ adaptations of traditional and contemporary pop, often in medley form. That right there is enough for me! Swanky instrumental versions of pop songs? I’m in. But there is something special about Klaus’ touch. He also records many classical and jazz pieces.

This particular album is extra-special, as it captures his experimentation with the Moog synthesizer. (You will come to know more about how much early electronic instruments excite me, but for now I’ll just say that they do). It’s charming now to look back and think how FUTURISTIC the year 2000 must have seemed in 1973 (just slightly before my time). Making music with machines WAS the sound of the future!

There are some traditional tracks on this, like a very watery, delightfully drippy version of Burt Bacharach’s “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” and an appropriately seductive rendition of Henry Mancini’s “Charade”. The stand out track for me, however, is “Corn-Flakes”. I had heard it before I ever got my hands on this LP, so I love that he does mention “Popcorn” in the sleeve notes. “Popcorn” is perhaps one of the most widely known of the early Moog tracks, made popular by Hot Butter in 1972, written by Gershon Kingsley in 1969. “Corn-Flakes” is credited to K. Lauer, though tells me that this is only an alias for Klaus himself. A true tribute to “Popcorn” but with a twist, the few opening notes of “Corn-Flakes” make one think that is what they are about to hear. But oh no, you are in for a surprise! There are so many delightful sounds and *pops* in this track, and it is played at such a frantic pace, one can’t help but bounce one’s shoulders, arms, toes (and perhaps eyebrows!) along with it.

The other Wunderlich originals are really a treat, like the zany and zippy “Dufter Kahn”. “Krimoogulus” is also quite a strange trip!

This record is of particular value to me because it was given to me by my friend and fellow KALX DJ who shares my affinity for vintage low-budget LPs. He lent it to me just to listen to after I saw it in his collection and flipped out in envy. Eventually he let me keep it. Props to you, DJ Adam Grab aka This Mutha! It is one of my most prized platters.



“AN ASTONISHING NEW Achievement In Stereo Recording
The Incredible Miracle of ‘3-Speaker Presence’ “

RS 867SD

I wanted to start with an Enoch Light record, as his have been the most inspiring and intriguing since I began collecting forgotten wax from The Space Age. The proliferation of them alone is ASTONISHING. You are guaranteed to find something he conducted, played on or produced in nearly any dusty bin of records at any thrift store, estate sale or Easy Listening $1 bin. Surprisingly, there is little information out there on this prolific artist, though his records in the 50s and 60s certainly had their share of market success. I was saddened to recently find that the extensive “Spaced Out” website is now defunct, or at least temporarily inaccessible. I keep telling myself that one day I am going to figure out the proper discography and organize my mini EL library sequentially. It is such an intimidating task, though! There is so much.

Although I had been exposed to some of his especially quirky and innovative tracks some years before, it wasn’t until I started noticing the striking and minimalist LP covers while digging (and in such abundance) that prompted me to pick them up and take them home – the signature elegant and geometric aesthetic that I now know as the work of Josef Albers.

I will be the first to tell you that I am a very superficial music connoisseur in some ways. I judge records by their covers. I have been doing this since I was a wee lass. I have now been DJing for five years (in college radio and the occasional party), and I still do this. And you know what? It WORKS a lot of the time, especially when it comes to the era of music I am profiling here. A lot of DJs I know are really into 45s, and I get it – many of these feature special single tracks and b-sides never to be found on an LP. But I can’t help myself – I love the artwork, and I can’t make that initial connection with a record without that visual. I’m sure I miss a lot of great and obscure songs, but in the meantime I find plenty in gorgeous, W I D E 12″ format.

So back to Mr. Light. The beautiful thing about the artwork is how perfect it matches the music inside. It is “simple” in a way yet sophisticated and very deliberate. It is crisp and idiosyncratic. It is futuristic for its time. Beyond the front cover, many Enoch Light and Enoch Light-produced records feature gatefold sleeves with oodles of analysis and detail of recording techniques. That is something that is hard to track down and research on the internet. One idea I have for this project is to include many of those liner notes – either via high-quality images or transcriptions. Stay tuned for further developments on that.

Another aspect of how / why my tastes are more “superficial”, i.e. more emotional and less technical, is that I am not (much of) a musician, nor do I understand a lot of the technical aspects of recording. I react to music viscerally, from the gut and from the heart. It either moves me or it doesn’t. I know some basics, and I do recognize certain techniques, but my ear is just not that refined in that way. I can appreciate, however, the technical artistry of Enoch Light and his experimentation with recording (and playback) equipment of the time. Indeed, this is what I love about his style – the multi-channel playfulness. DIMENSION 3 features a significant achievement in this area – not only working with the left and right speakers, but also working with the MIDDLE speaker. THREE dimensions – get it? WOW. (I must admit, I have actually never listened to this record on such a system, so I can only imagine the satisfaction. One can still pick up on plenty of the bouncing and multiple layers with your average two-dimensional sound system.)

I would also like to eventually upload a choice track from each record I profile. In this case, it would be “Carribe” (don’t bother looking for it on YouTube, because it isn’t there – hence the importance of me doing it myself one day). I tend to favor the more lively and what I describe as “frantic” tracks, and “Carribe” really takes the cake on this LP.

From Enoch’s own liner notes:

CARRIBE  This exciting and compelling piece opens with Bobby Rosengarden beating a Lujons on the right followed by Phil Kraus using an extremely soft ‘slap mallet’ on xylophone on the left. The rhythmic attack is filled out by Don Lamond with drum sticks in the center. Once the brass and saxophones have gotten the piece off and roaring, notice the fast and intricate organ fills and solo that emerge with total clarity and fullness in the center while the trombones move from their normal right-handed position to the left in order to provide needed balance on that side. The tenor saxophone solo on the left, played against bongos on the right, is by Al Klink while it is Phil Bodner who contributes the provocative piccolo breaks later on.”

All that in 1:54 minutes!