Dick Hyman

Moog: The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman

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In the late '60s, pianist Dick Hyman, famous for "Moritat, Theme from Threepenny Opera," aexperimented with various keyboard instruments, including Baldwin and Lowrey organs. This release was his first with what was then a completely newfangled machine, the Moog synthesizer. Hyman took the Moog by the horns and milked it for all it was worth on nine originals, including the monster hit single "The Minotaur" (which inspired Emerson, Lake and Palmer's "Lucky Man").

The first few tracks are in a pop-song mold, but they are pop songs composed as only a jazz musician with two decades of experience under his belt could. Hyman then hits the listener with a few spacier, improvised numbers that come off as very accessible avant-garde music. Following the "The Minotaur" are two improvised pieces. Moog: The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman ends with "Evening Thoughts," an impressionistic track reminiscent of "Ebb Tide" by Earl Grant, on which the sounds of the seashore are conjured up on various keyboard instruments. Hyman writes about his intentions for each track in the liner notes.

Aside from some other Moog tracks sprinkled throughout DCC Compact Classics' Music for a Bachelor's Den series, it's surprising that it's taken this long in the lounge reissue bonanza for the Moog to finally appear (not counting The Moog Cookbook, a fab spinning of modern rock nuggets into string cheese.) Moog features three bonus tracks from Hyman's next album Age of Electronicus; his recasting of James Brown's "Give It Up or Turn It Loose" is well worth the price of admission.

Though this album could easily be tossed into the novelty or "period piece" category, it was not originally intended as that. Hyman recorded a showcase what this new instrument could do, and in the process made an enjoyable album.

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