MORT GARSON (part 1 of 2)

MORT GARSON

It’s a shocker to me that no other blog has fully tackled the work of electronic music pioneer Mort Garson, so here ya go. Allmusic sez:

Mort Garson boasts one of the most unique and outright bizarre resumés in popular music, spanning from easy listening to occult-influenced space-age electronic pop — all in the same decade, no less. Born July 20, 1924, in the Canadian city of St. John, New Brunswick, Garson attended the Juilliard School of Music, briefly graduating to the ranks of professional pianist and arranger before he was drafted to serve in World War II. Upon returning from duty, Garson cemented a reputation as a top session hand, tackling arranging, conducting, or even composing duties if necessary; a small sampling of his credits includes sessions by Mel Tormé, Doris Day, Ed Ames, the Lettermen, and the Sandpipers. He also arranged and conducted a series of easy listening records in the mold of Les Baxter, among them the Continentals’ ‘Bossa Nova for All Ages’, the Total Eclipse’s ‘Symphony for the Soul’, and the Dusk ‘Til Dawn Orchestra’s ‘Sea Drift’. In 1963, Garson teamed with lyricist Bob Hilliard to write the lovely ‘Our Day Will Come,’ a number one pop hit for Ruby & the Romantics; with Perry Botkin Jr., he also arranged and conducted a number of easy listening records inspired by the era’s biggest pop hits, among them two volumes in the Hollyridge Strings’ ‘Play the Beatles Songbook’ series and also their ‘Play the Hits of Simon & Garfunkel’. And in 1968, Garson experienced his crowning moment of commercial glory as the string arranger behind the Glen Campbell blockbuster ‘By the Time I Get to Phoenix.’

But the aforementioned accomplishments are all mere prelude to the most fascinating work of Garson’s career — specifically, the series of electronic LPs he made with spoken-word artist Jacques Wilson. 1967′s ‘Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds’, which also featured contributions from electronic pioneer Paul Beaver, was the first record cut on the West Coast to feature Robert Moog’s namesake synthesizer, and a year later the principals reunited for the Bernie Krause-produced ‘The Wozard of Iz — An Electronic Odyssey’, a hallucinatory psychedelic satire of the L. Frank Baum children’s classic featuring Nancy Sinatra (credited as ‘Suzy Jane Hokum’) as Dorothy. For A&M, Garson next recorded ‘Electronic Hair Pieces’ — electronic renditions of songs from the hit musical Hair — as well as the 12-volume ‘Signs of the Zodiac’ series, with one record for each astrological sign. His masterpiece, however, is undoubtedly 1971′s ‘Black Mass/Lucifer’, a seriously freaky and intense concept record drawing upon themes and images central to Satanist mythos. That same year, Garson teamed with performance artist Z for the aural aphrodisiac ‘Music for Sensuous Lovers’. He then spent the next several years composing film and television scores, returning to record stores in 1975 with another occult-themed effort, ‘The Unexplained — Ataxaria’; a year later, Garson issued ‘Plantasia’, a collection of Moog pieces designed to boost the growth of indoor plants. From that point forward, Garson basically disappeared from sight.“.

Mort Garson – “The Wozard Of Id”, 1968 (ZIP file)
Mort Garson – “Electronic Hair Pieces”, 1969 (ZIP file)
Mort Garson – “Black Mass/Lucifer”, 1971 (ZIP file)

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964 Responses to MORT GARSON (part 1 of 2)

  1. luke says:

    thank you so much for the electronic hair pieces LP!

  2. The Secondhand Outfit says:

    Whose better than you!! Thanks so much for the Black Mass LP, A/C leaked all over my copy and it died. Its the good word!!

  3. Zorchman says:

    I used to have this LP when I was a kid…rather sorry I let it go, almost 30 years ago. It certainly brought back memories.

    You seem to be missing one cut…”Frank Mills.”

    I used to have the Command LP of “Copper=Plated Electronic Circuit” as well. Might you have that one too?

    ~Zman

  4. Scott says:

    I just discovered him via another blog, pointing to your site. I am sad to hear of his passing. He did some brilliant work!
    X

  5. Alain says:

    Sad news, but thanks for having his albums up. Any chance of your posting the Sea Drift LP? I’d appreciate it!

  6. Tret says:

    I bought “Hair Pieces” for 0.49 from a bargain bin in 1973, and I pretty much wore out the LP. Had forgot about it til now, it was great stuff! RIP.

  7. CharlesB says:

    Black Mass . . . what can I say? I was a junior in high school (1972) when I first heard the album played on an underground(?) radio station called “The Little Red Barn” which was broadcast from Little Rock, AK. Since the album was no where to be found for purchase, I contacted the radio show and arrainged to buy it from them. I wasn’t disappointed. Besides Perrey & Kingsley, Garson did more to turn me on to synthesizer music than anyone or any thing else. The man was a genius.

  8. Ben says:

    My life is complete. I can finally listen to Hairpieces again after almost 20 years… *tear*

  9. IMS says:

    Just wanted to thank you for sharing some interesting mind-expanding music. Thank you so much!

  10. talljamal says:

    I saw Electronic Hair Pieces at the WFMU record fair last year, but the guy wouldn’t take less than $70 for it. At least I have it in MP3 format now, thank you.

    There’s also a moog Hair record by Bobby Byrne that’s pretty good, too.

  11. Hi there!

    If you are at all interested, I just recorded an electronic EP called “Over What Rainbow”, an electronic dedication to Mort Garson, which is up on my blog page for free download. If you decide to check it out and end up liking it, feel free to post it on your site!

    Thanks for all the awesome posts! You have got some amazing ones!

    DavidT (Something Weird)

  12. Reber Clark says:

    Wow. Amazing. I’ve been looking for Black Mass – Lucifer since I misplaced my vinyl copy in the 80s. I originally found it in a bargain bin in 1974 while in college in Russellville, Arkansas. I think the commentor above, CharlesB, meant he heard it on a Little Rock, AR (Arkansas) radio station – that’s where I heard it too, probably the same year (72)! Being able to have this again is incredible. Thank you so much for your care and time.

  13. Jason Odd says:

    Actually Suzy Jane Hokum is none other than Suzi Jane Hokum, another Lee Hazelwood singing partner from the 60s.
    I have no idea why this rumour will not die, it is most definately not Sinatra, I’ve seen it on just about every online reference to this LP.
    Suzi Jane will set you straight, go see her myspace page.

    J.

  14. Jason Odd says:

    p.s. not meaning to shoot the messenger, and wonderful to replace the well worn vinyl

  15. Jason Odd says:

    .. is it me, or did anyone else lose “Frank Mills” during the download of the ’69 album?

  16. Buck says:

    Thank you so much for sharing these!