Friday, January 09, 2015

Song of the day

"Time is Tight", by Dick Hyman.

Homophonically speaking, the name Dick Hyman is something of an awkward non-sequitur; a contradiction in terms, even. Musically speaking, Mr Hyman may also have fallen into that category. He made his name as a straight-ahead jazz player, but somewhere in the 1960s he took a major left turn, investing his energies in the brave new world of electric keyboards (see also, but also c.f., Miles Davis) and, specifically, with two albums released in 1969, the Moog.

Those two albums were themselves strikingly bifurcated, one ("The Age of Electronicus") taking the Martin Denny route of spicing up the standards of the day; the other, "Moog: The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman", couldn't have been more different (or more difficult): a kind of musique concrete investigation of possible futures.

"Time is Tight", which you all know as a Booker T and The MGs standard, appears on the first of those albums. There is, however, a 1997 CD reissue of the "Moog ..." album that takes three tracks from "The Age of Electronicus" and appends them to the more difficult stuff, breathing new life into those three tracks (and particularly into "Time is Tight", which appears right at the end) as a kind of palate cleanser to the largely avant garde business that precedes them. Of course, to each his own, but these three minutes seem to me to contain more life, and more future possibilities, within them than the whole of the original "Moog ..." album put together. Fightin' words? (As an aside, I also tend to think that the strength of a song can be tested by how well it lends itself to weird and/or unexpected cover versions. On that hypothesis, "Time is Tight" clearly prevails. But you already knew that.)

(You may also ask yourself how much the cover art for "The Age of Electronicus" might have influenced the young Julian House, designer of record covers for the Ghost Box label, as well as for artists as sound and sturdy as Broadcast and Stereolab.)