Rockin' In The Free World:The Moog Cookbook
Artist: The Moog Cookbook
Album: The Moog Cookbook
Appears On (Mixes): Thirteen Ugly Children Roll Gutterballs
Song Notes: I suppose I'd have to pair a song from The Moog Cookbook with a cut from Trans -- the liner notes to The Moog Cookbook mention Trans, and in interviews, they'd sing its praises, making me realize I had to track down a copy and listen to it. So, if anything, they get thanks for that! But, also, The Moog Cookbook are really, really good. They're Uli Nomi and Meco Eco—or, actually, Roger Manning, Jr. and Brian Kehew. Manning's a pretty famous keyboardist—he's toured and performed on a bunch of Beck's albums, and was a member of Jellyfish (with Andy Sturmer, who now is the Genius Producer Extraordinaire behind Puffy AmiYumi's US success—as an aside, Puffy's Nice. album is one of the best of 2003!) and Imperial Drag, and Kehew's done a lot of work in his own right as a producer and member of the touring bands for acts like Air.
They got their name from an actual cookbook—during the early synthesizer boom, Bob Moog's wife actually had a small-press cookbook Moog's Musical Eatery. (Shirleigh Moog is, by all accounts, an accomplished cook, and her cookbook is supposed to be very good—not just a novelty!) Their two albums, though, are callbacks to the 1960s, when there was a boom of Moog records featuring Moog version of older songs—the most famous being Wendy Carlos' excellent Switched-On Bach series, though there were many, many more—mostly not very good, actually; pop-music versions quickly churned out without much care to the quality of the arrangements, though there are definitely some good gems in there (For a selection of vintage Moog album tracks, Disinformation put out Best Of Moog, a great overview of the best, both of originals and covers—check out "Foggy Mountain Breakdown"!) One thing to remember when listening to these albums—the original Moogs were all monophonic, meaning they could only play one note at a time—meaning that in order to do chords, the musician would have to multi-track each note of the chord... when you add multiple voices, that leads to a lot of overdubbing and editing!
This song is one of the few on either Moog Cookbook record to use a real guitar and drum kit; almost all of the other tracks only used synthesizers (despite the name, not exclusively Moogs—they've also got some ARPs and other makes) and drum machines. I think the first album (which this comes from) is the better of the two—the covers on it are all modern-day songs, while the second album, Ye Olde Space Bande is all classic rock songs—typically songs that came out too late to have appeared on original Moog records (the fad wasn't especially long lived, though the instruments themselves remain to be very popular to this day—Moog himself is now selling a reissue of the original MiniMoog!), but it still didn't seem quite as fun and surprising as the first record—though both are still excellent and worth picking up. (Especially their version of "Ziggy Stardust"!) Their records, though, aren't straight covers—they have great fun in playing with their songs; "Come Out And Play" has a space laser battle in the middle; "Buddy Holly" has a doorbell, "25 or 6 to 4" has a bit of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" in it and "Hotel California" goes through a ton of different styles in its six minutes—including carousel! They're really fun albums, but the incredible musicianship of the band members makes the albums really interesting and not just something you listen to once and forget about. I love these records and listen to them all the time—they really do work as albums and not just novelties.
Also, "Moog" is pronounced to rhyme with "vogue", not the way you'd expect it to be pronounced. (Unless you're Dutch, in which case, it's pronounced exactly like you'd expect it to be pronounced.)