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IN EUROPE (KD 33 01 40) H’ART SONGS (KD 33 01 60)

ELPMAS (KD 12 33 14)

I wrote my original review of Moondog (elsewhere here) in early 1998, and the follow up obituary in the fall of 1999. Since writing that first review I’m pleased to say I now have a copy of his 1953 Epic album – and my profound thanks to record collector/dealer Steve Smolian for that – as well as copies of the four albums listed above. They double the number of CDs of Moondog’s recordings.

These four albums are all issued by the European Kopf label, and due to changes in EU practices, only one of them carries a date. ELPMAS is copyright 1991. The others assiduously avoid any dates (either recording or release) at all, their copyrights undated. They showed up (as imports) here in the spring of 2000. Whether they precede or follow ELPMAS I cannot say, but the other three albums have a very similar packaging format which suggests (despite non-consecutive catalog numbers) a simultaneous or coordinated release. Roof Music is the publisher of all four albums’ music, as it was for SAX PAX FOR A SAX. Each album has its own character and theme, but all are venues for Moondog’s canonic music.

A NEW SOUND OF AN OLD INSTRUMENT is organ music, performed by two German concert organists. "I think an organ can do anything a jazz band can do, as good, if not better," Moondog stated in the album notes. Elsewhere he refered to Swing. But there is no jazz here, although the solo and duet organs are sometimes accompanied by Moondog’s percussion, which sounds a trifle odd juxtaposed with them. Think baroque organ music plus rhythm.

IN EUROPE teams Moondog up with one of the organists from the organ album, adding violin, viola and cello, plus Waldhorn and celeste on various tracks. This too is an instrumental album. The notes are only in German.

H’ART SONGS are songs with lyrics sung by Moondog. The organist from the previous two albums plays piano here, abetted by Moondog’s percussion, but the accent is on the lyrics. "Moondog singing Moondog? Really! Even goodness knows, that Moondog doesn’t sing a song; he shows how it goes," Moondog stated in preface to the booklet’s lyrics.

ELPMAS "is largely a protest against our treatment of aboriginese [sic] people, against our treatment of nature, plants and animals, also against the idea that ‘we discovered the New World,’ when it is as old or older than ours," according to Moondog. The album uses a small orchestra, a Japanese recitation, and other voices in addition to Moondog’s.

Most of these are not long albums – they range from 36 to 43 minutes -- but due to the nature of Moondog’s canonic music (as I explained in my earlier review) that’s just as well. The exception is ELPMAS, which clocks in at 71:47 – or almost double the length of the others.

This is music which has a limited, but devoted audience. If you belong to that audience you will want all four of these albums. If you’re new to Moondog, I still recommend his Columbia CD as the best introduction.

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