Wednesday, June 11, 2008
I'm really pleased to have Ish from the fantastic ile oxumaré blog as guest poster today. If you don't know his blog, you must check it out, it's a treasure trove of all sorts of great music. He also runs the indispensable Strata-East Fan Club blog. I've often joked that we seem to have the same vinyl collection, and as it turned out, we needed both copies of the same rare one to get today's post happening.
... so over to you Ish :
(First let me say I'm honored to be a guest poster on Simon's blog. In my short life as a music blogger he's been one of my earliest and best readers over at Ile Oxumare: quick to comment, with useful info to add, and generous with his shares. I've been thrilled with his entry into the world of jazz blogs. I've heard some great music I hadn't known of here, and he's been energetic supplying background info and links to related sources. Bravo Simon! It took two continents to make this post: my vinyl had a series of hopeless skips on side one. Together courtesy of some wires strung between New York and Australia here you have it in one restored piece, a keyboard classic.)
George Duke recorded eight albums for the German label MPS. Six of them are well-known classics on the rare groove scene, and these have finally been put out on CD by a rejuvenated MPS imprint as a 4-disk collection. One of these - "The Inner Source" - you'll even find on this blog.
His first album, pre-electric and more or less disavowed by Duke himself as unlistenable, seems to be lost to the ages. I think I may have had a copy once but it didn't survive one of my great vinyl purges.
The eighth album—“The Dream”--got caught up in contract dispute as Duke moved on to the US imprint Epic, and to greater commercial style and success. MPS put it out against his wishes, and apparently without paying him for it. It received relatively limited circulation. By way of revenge, Duke reworked the album and reissued it in 1982, retitling it "The 1976 Solo Keyboard Album." One suspects Duke was using the recording as filler for his Epic contract, for he shortly after moved to Elektra, his albums becoming more smooth-R&B and less interesting.
Anyway in the liner notes to the 1982 version--which has been put out on CD--Duke states :
"This album is the last in a series of records I made for MPS...it is my first and only solo record. It was originally recorded and mixed in 1976....The present album was remixed in 1980 with a few alterations at my recording studio, Le Gonks West....'Pathways' on the original recording was an acoustic piano improvisation. On this record I have added Prophet V synthesizer. All the other synthesizer work on this record was done in 1976 on arp odyssey and mini-moog synthesizers."
(The downloads include the later 1982 versions of "Pathways" and "Spock Gets Funky" for comparison).
Duke obviously fell in love with electric keyboards, His sound on the arp and minimoog is instantly recognizable on his solo albums and the dozens of albums for which he contributed, often under the nom-de-keys Dawilli Gonga. Making a solo album today is nothing--all you need is a mac and a copy of garage band. In 1976 it was a whole different story. There was no sampling. No flipping of a single on switch. Those synthesizers had to be taught to make those glorious sounds. Hearing this album you understand how seduced Duke got by later generations of keyboards. The less said about what happened to his music when he got into those perhaps the better.
Here. then, is “The Dream”!
George Duke - "The Dream"
MPS LP, cat. number 68183
Recorded 1976, released 1978
1 'Mr. McFreeze'
2 'Love Reborn'
3 'Tzina' (retitled in 1982 "Excerpts from the Opera Tzina")
4 'Spock Does the Bump at the Space Disco' (retitled in 1982 "Spock Gets Funky")
6 'Vulcun Mind Probe' (1982 "Vulcun" respelled "Vulcan")
7 'The Dream That Ended'
Also included in downloads
"Pathways" and "Spock Gets Funky" from the 1982 release.
All compositions by George Duke, Mycenae Music / ASCAP
George Duke : keyboards, drums, bell tree, vocal
Recording Engineer : Kerry McNabb (Paramount Recording)
Producer : George Duke
Executive Producer : Baldhard Falk
Front Cover : Sätty
Photo : Baldhard Falk