This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Mini-Moog Voyager. To honor the occasion, the audio scientists up at Moog HQ have crafted a limited run of 30 synths embossed with 24-karat gold finishes — which sounds like something that would make a great holiday gift if you happen to trade stocking stuffers with the likes of ‘Ye and Jay. For the rest of us penny-pinchers then, Hive tapped up known Moog record collector and hip-hop producer DJ Spinna to compile a beginner’s guide to the funky world of Moog recordings, which hit their creative peak in the late-’60s. Now tune-in, turn on and funk it up!
1. Perry and Kinsgley, “Mas Que Nada” (1967)
The album this is from [Kaleidoscopic Vibrations: Spotlight on the Moog] is documented as the first commercial release of a Moog album. The way the Moog was being used was quite new and people were pretty much covering pop songs of the day. I’m a big Brazilian music fan and collect a lot of it and that version of “Mas Que Nada” is pretty close to it. That was also one of the first Moog records I ever picked up.
2. Dyck Hyman, “Give It Up or Turn It Loose” (1969)
I started digging for records for sampling purposes and that album [The Age of Electronicus] was one of my treasured pieces. This cover of the James Brown song is a good way to display how the Moog can be used in a funk vibe: it emulates the guitar section and there’s elements of electronic drums which I believe came from one of the early synthesizers. It took a funk standard to another level and gave it a totally different outlook. Most of the Moog covers were pop standards but this was nothing but funk. I sampled something else off that album, for my remix of Das EFX’s “Microphone Master,” but I’ve often been tempted to sample the cover version! A lot of my contemporaries have the record in their collection.
3. The Copper Plated Integrated Circuit, “Integrated Circuit” (1969)
I tried to research on who the Copper Plated Integrated Circuit are, but I would assume that it was probably some of the players that were involved in that label, ABC Records, and Dick Hyman was heavily involved, maybe even as an A&R. It’s pretty funky. There was a time in my production that I was looking primarily for Moog records and that was probably my biggest inspiration for that. DJ Premier was a big influence and he used a Moog sample for [Gang Starr’s] “Just to Get a Rep,” one of the first records to put Moog records on the map. This album, Plugged in Pop, caught my attention ’cause it has a version of “Love Child” on it where the drummer’s funky.
4. Mort Garson, “Walking In Space” (1969)
During a period in the ’90s, I was also into the musical Hair and collecting those soundtracks; for the Mort Garson version the whole album is a Hair cover. I had sampled various versions of “Walking Into Space” prior to finding this album. Once I heard it though, it just opened everything up. I think Mort Garson, out of all the producers and composers and musicians in early electronic music, he was the one that really experimented the most and created sound-scenes and almost soundtrack-like music with the Moog. I pretty much buy anything with his name on it!
5. Stevie Wonder, “You’ve Got It Bad Girl” (1972)
My reason for putting this in the mix was Stevie Wonder was probably the primary artist in the world in pop and soul and R&B to utilize the Moog synthesizer. His inspiration for using it came from a duo called Tonto’s Expanding Headband and that inspired him to let them associate produce pretty much all of his albums from 1971-1980. You can hear the Moog pretty heavily in the production. He would play bass out of the Moog and that allowed him to pretty much become his own rhythm section and his own band so to speak.