Friday, January 11, 2008
MORT GARSON R.I.P.
Very sad to read today that Mort Garson has died. As this LA Times article points out, Garson had plenty of mainstream success in the music biz, even co-writing a number one hit in 1963 (Ruby and the Romantics' "Our Day Will Come"), but is primarily remembered today for his bizarre '60s/'70s Moog synth records. There were lots of Moog-sploitation records being cranked out in those days, but what made Mort a strange-music superstar was his refusal to do too many cheezy remake records. Rather, like Dick Hyman and Perrey & Kingsley, he wrote most of his own material. Unlike most Moog-masters who preferred to let their instruments do all the talking, however, he also prominently featured vocalists.
"Electronic Hair Pieces" is the first album of his that I found, for 48 cents in the late '80s (it probably goes for at least 48 dollars now.) Selections from the "Hair" soundtrack done electro-stylee, it's the only Moog remake album of his that I know of. Liner notes by Tommy Smothers!
Mort Garson: Walking In Space
I think some of his best songwriting is on the "Wozard of Iz" Wizard of Oz-inspired concept album, with vocals by no less then Nancy Sinatra (recording under another name). The lyrics for this tune are a kind of beatnik anti-conformist spiel, but still relevant to today. This shouldn't work - someone who sounds like they're from the older generation trying to lay a hip rap on the kids could have been squares-ville, daddy. But it rocks.
Mort Garson: "Never Follow The Yellow Green Road"
I have a 45 of his from the soundtrack to Son of Blob (aka Beware! The Blob) that's also all-synths and rinky-dink early drum machines, but punctuated by breakdowns with screaming people, presumably being eaten by that pesky Blob.
The Blobs: Son of Blob
Garson also recorded albums with black-magic themes. I featured Mort's tune "The Unexplained" on the "Disco Sickness" collection I put together for the 365 Project. Electro-disco...in 1973? If that's not the definition of visionary, I don't know what is.
Mort Garson: "The Unexplained"
One of his albums, "Music For Sensuous Lovers," consisted of two side-long instrumentals featuring a woman's ostensibly erotic moans and groans. In a fittingly strange finale to a career steeped in strangeness, Garson's last album was music intended to be played for your plants. The record, "Plantasia," was given away by a mattress company. Okay...well, it was the '70s...
Mort Garson: Baby's Tears Blues
More Mort: Egg City Radio has six albums available here and here. Office Naps has singles he did with "The Time Zone" and "The Big Game Hunters."
He was writing music 'til the day he died: a suite about San Francisco. Let's hope it gets released.