Band members Related acts
- John Keating (RIP 2015) -- synthesizers
- Sounds Galactic
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Space Experience
Country/State: Edinburgh, Scotland
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG
Comments: quad pressing
Catalog ID: 204
I can't say I know a lot about Scottish composer/conductor John Eating, other than he's accumulated an extensive recording catalog stretching back to the mid 1950s. Luckily, Wikipedia has a short biography on the man:
John Keating is a Scottish musician, songwriter, and arranger. After studying piano and trombone, he taught himself how to arrange and compose in his teens. He went to work with British big band leader Ted Heath in 1952 as a trombone player, but within two years Heath asked him to become his primary arranger. In the early 1960s, he and songwriter Johnny Worth (writing as Les Vandyke) masterminded the career of a minor British pop star, Eden Kane. The team wrote and produced a string of British top 10 hits for Kane in 1961-63. In addition he wrote, produced or arranged hits by Adam Faith, Petula Clark, Anthony Newley, Sammy Davis Jr. and many others.
Keating arranged and conducted a series of albums for London Records' Phase 4 series, notable for its use of synthesizer technology such as the Moog synthesizers and the EMS VCS 3. The records were often used as demonstration discs in the 1970s in Hi-Fi stores because of their quality. Much of his work was re-released following the Lounge music revival of the mid 1990s and its use as breakbeats.
As founder and principal of the Johnny Keating School of Music, Edinburgh, he has been directly responsible for the musical education of many students who later became successful professionals.
In 1999, he completed a four–volume academic reference book dedicated to the art of professional songwriting: Principles of Songwriting: A Study in Structure and Technique.
So that background should give you a pretty good feel as to what to expect on 1972's "Space Experience". Produced by Keating, the all-instrumental album offered up a mixture of then-popular hits couple with a series of five Keating originals. Judging by the album title, the cover art, and the song titles, the intent was to create a pseudo-concept piece, but the real focus was on showcasing the then-state-of-the-art Electronic Music Studios (E.M.S.) Synthi VCS3 synthesizer. Certainly cutting edge when released, but today the results sound amazingly dated - imagine the sound effects on an early Atari game, or one of those Casio keyboards ... The mixture of a full orchestra and Keating's synthesizers made for prime lounge act moves that should bring a smile to genre collectors !!! By the way, the US Columbia pressing was in quad and sounds amazing with a good pair of headphones. Oh, let me add that even if you are not a space fan, the cover photo is stunning.
Experience" track listing:
1.) I Feel the Earth Move (instrumental) (Carole King) - 3:42 rating: **** stars
To be honest, the first couple of times I played 'I Feel the Earth Move" I simply didn't recognize if as the Carole King hit. Yeah, the basic melody was there, but surrounded by all the synthesizer beeps, bleeps, and tweets, I simply didn't recognize if. Opening up with kettle drums, sound effects (escaping steam?), and the VCS3, this was high tech lounge act at its very best. Imagine Booker T. and the MGs stuck in an Apollo capsule ...
2.) The Unknown Planet (instrumental) (John Keating) - 5:25 rating: **** stars
The Keating original 'The Unknown Plane' sounded like something written for an episode of The Twilight Zone and then abruptly shifted into something that recalled The Ventures having discovered a Theremin and then decided to write a James Bond theme song. Crazy good tune.
3.) Rocket Man (instrumental) (Elton John - Bernie Taupin) - 4:02 rating; *** stars.
Elton John's 'Rocket Man' got the full VCS3 treatment with Keating turning the ballad into a forest of synthesizer bleeps, burps and buzzes, accompanied by wah-wah guitar and flutes. Through it all, the song's strong melody somehow survived. Certainly one of the oddest Elton John covers I've ever encountered.
4.) Prelude To Earthrise (instrumental) (John Keating) - 4:04 rating: ** stars
'Prelude To Earthrise' had a pretty enough melody, but the synthesizer squeaks made it sound like the master tape had been damaged. Bizarre.
5.) Star Trek (instrumental) (Gene Roddenberry - A.Courage) - 4:05 rating: ** stars
The 'Star Trek' theme was essentially given a mild disco-arrangement, complete with 'scratch' guitar effects, which was perfect had the series ever been packaged for an ABC television series.
The original ballad 'Space Agent' started out slowly, but when Keating's synthesizer programming kicked in, the song got quite interesting - always loved the helicopter in a landing strip sound effects.
2.) Jesus Christ Superstar (instrumental) (Tim Rice - Andrew Lloyd-Webber) - 4:05 rating; *** stars.
I have to admit that I never quite figured how 'Jesus Christ Superstar' fit into the overarching theme, but the jI guess it didn't really matter. As for the synthesizers; well I guess Keating managed to provide that a VCS3 could mimic a Moog without any problems. Credited to The John Keating Space Experience, in the UK EMI/Columbia released a single off the album:
- 1972's 'Jesus Christ Superstar (instrumental' b/w 'Prelude To Earthrise' (Columbia catalog number DB 8955)
3.) Upon Another Earth (instrumental) (John Keating) - 4:03
Another Keating original, 'Upon Another Earth' sounded like incidental film music - picture the astronauts exploring an abandoned space ship and you'll get a feel for the atmospherics. rating: ** stars
4.) The Sound of Silence (instrumental) (Paul Simon) - 3:35 rating; *** stars.
I have to admit that Keating's cover of 'The Sound of Silence' was actually pretty good. The synthesizers were understated (I liked to faux harpsichord) and the arrangement included some nice wah-wah lead guitar.
Signal To Saturn (instrumental) (John Keating) - 3:30
rating; *** stars.
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Space Experience 2
Country/State: Edinburgh, Scotland
Grade (cover/record): --
Comments: quad pressing; UK pressing
Catalog ID: --
I've never bothered looking for a copy, but two years later Keating released a follow-up album cleverly entitled "Space Experience 2" (Columbia EMI catalog number TWOX 1044)
"Space Experiment 2" track listing:
1.) Reach Out I'll be There (instrumental) (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland) - 3:35
2.) Counter Glow (instrumental) - 6:09
3.) Dreamer (instrumental) - 4:22
4.) Stereoskopia (instrumental) - 3:45
5.) Solitaire (instrumental) - 6:58
1.) Starcluster (instrumental) - 3:46
2.) Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds (instrumental) (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 4:26
3.) Asteroid (instrumental) - 4:48
4.) Life On Mars (instrumental)
5.) Earthshine (instrumental) - 4:03
Who knows why, but in 1998 the English Studio 2 label reissued both LPs as a two-fer in CD format (catalog number 7243 4 95619 2 2)
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