Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
When I die I’ll probably climb out of the coffin and play the organ at my own funeral!”
Famous organist Rick Wakeman
On occasion the Friday night extended music blog has focused on a musical instrument. I’ve done the sax, bass guitar, and would love to do the flugelhorn sometime.
The Hammond organ has been featured in the past, too. Love that sound.
Inventor Laurens Hammond’s creation was unveiled in 1934. Hammond had set out to somehow replicate the harmonic sound of a church pipe organ. Technically, Hammond allocated nine mechanical wheels to each key. Then he put in “drawbar” controllers that could fade in or out any of the frequencies from the various tonewheels in the organ. Thus countless combinations were possible.
The new organ found its way into churches and ice rinks. But when the B3 model emerged in 1954, the Hammond organ was about to flourish. Pop and rock stars found that the organ’s motor added versatility and soul.
Production of the B3 stopped in the 70’s but a new version came out in 2002. Whether the sound is wobbly or like a revving engine, the organ can be distinctive, standing out to make a piece even more noticeable and inviting.
Tonight, music featuring the keys. So let’s get organ-ized.
If it was cool enough for these guys, it’s cool enough for me.
That would be Paul playing the Hammond organ on what many Beatles fans consider to be the worst song the band ever released. The organ, they felt, gave the tune too much of a lounge sound. Fans who didn’t like “Mr. Moonlight” concede John’s blistering vocal was a saving grace.
At the time the album was out, my father loved “Mr. Moonlight.” Maybe younger Beatles fans felt it wasn’t hip enough. But the song made the cut for the album because it was so popular among “beat” groups of the era. The Beatles played it regularly in clubs in Hamburg before they really hit it big.
Next, pianist and arranger Ernie Freeman played on numerous early rock and R&B sessions in the ’50s. Freeman worked with the Platters, Duane Eddy, Johnny Burnette, the Cricketts, Bobby Vee and Buddy Knox. He also also put out many instrumental records of his own that featured rocked-up jump R&B style. Freeman began to fizzle in the 60’s though he still managed to work with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr.
“Rock House” was recorded in 1963. Now for some trivia.
Freeman won a Grammy Award in 1966 for the string arrangement on Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night.” Then he picked up a second Grammy for his 1970 arrangement of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Freeman died from a heart attack at his home in Los Angeles in May 1981. He was 58.
One of the top singles for Henry Mancini was the theme for the TV series, “Mr. Lucky” that had a dominant organ theme. The organist who played a smooth stylized Hammond B3 organ solo phrase on the popular theme recording was Buddy Cole, an organist based in Los Angeles.
Mancini would produce a Latin-themed response to Mr. Lucky. Reports are Buddy Cole’s feelings were hurt when Mancini did not use him on the sequel LP “Mr. Lucky Goes Latin.” So he thereafter accused Mancini of “stealing his sound.”
Mancini’s response was that he used other organists on other albums. When Cole refused to play organ on the Latin version of Mr. Lucky, Mancini went with Bobby Hammack.
From the original liner notes from the RCA Victor album “Mr. Lucky Goes Latin”:
“Too frequently, the term ‘Latin Music’ refers to wild, exotic and primitive rhythms. Although the rhythm is certainly a part of Latin music, there should obviously be more to it than that. And there is. When properly presented, there is melody, romance, humor and sophistication.
“These are the elements emphasized in this album. The exotic rhythms are there, but the real accent is on romantic melodies, intriguing sounds and sophisticated humor… the stocks-in-trade of the incomparable Henry Mancini and his suave friend, Mr. Lucky. Lucky is on hand, too, his now famous theme gone delightfully native. Every selection shows overwhelming evidence of (to steal the title of one of his recent albums) ‘The Mancini Touch’.
“The listener will find all of the taste and musicianship which have made Mancini one of the nation’s top composer-arranger-conductors, plus some new glimpses into his creative (and frequently whimsical) imagination.”
Time for a short break, and some fun!
Stephen Mann plays ABBA at English Martyrs Church, Whalley Range, in Manchester, England.
Let’s step inside.
Now there’s a possible way to boost church attendance!
There’s no shortage on rock songs that highlighted an organ.
“Light My Fire” – Doors
“House of the Rising Sun” – The Animals
“Hush” – Deep Purple
“A Whiter Shade of Pale” – Procol Harum
Always loved this one. By what is considered the very first garage band.
In the 1960’s you had to have a gimmick, and this band certainly did.
Billed as “? and the Mysterians” the band was led by an anonymous lead singer. Remember, no Internet back then, and only three major TV networks. For awhile as this group started to climb the charts the country never knew what these guys looked like.
Their first and only hit was recorded in a living room in Bay City, Michigan. Rudy Martinez sang it and 14-year old Frank Rodriguez played the organ riff.
That is one of the best songs from one of the best musical decades ever. The 1960’s.
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend.
Oakland’s horn band “Tower of Power” has been recording and performing for 50 years. Here’s original keyboardist Chester Thompson jamming with the group on their most famous instrumental.