What shall we talk about today? Let's start off with the mighty Hammond organ, and see where it leads us.
A couple of nights ago, I briefly put up an audio clip of Tina Turner singing 'I Can't Stand the Rain', but I took it down again quickly once John had seen it, because - try as I might - I could not find a version which included a Hammond organ, as I had just heard on the radio.
There is no synthetic substitute for the Hammond, but the compact digital age has all but done away with it and only a handful of diehards like Georgie Fame still take them on cruises to entertain silvery-haired old ravers and remind them of their high-wattage youth.
My often aforementioned, ex-popstar friend used to own a Hammond, but he just got too old and frail to haul it up and down the stairway of his compact but adorable city apartment, and having drifted into the shadows somewhat over the last few years, he could not afford any beefy roadies to do it for him, so he sold it.
Come to think of it, this is the same bloke who - when hearing that I gave up playing music years ago - said that he could not forgive anyone who could play an instrument but decided not to. Well mate, I feel pretty much the same way about ex-Hammond owners.
I remember him setting it up on stage once, and having lugged it onto a massive and robust stand (they are almost as heavy as an upright pianoforte), he gave it a few blasts to see if it worked. Magic.
When he turned the power on, a huge disc-like array of horns rapidly rotated on the top of it in a very Heath-Robinson kind of way. This disc performed two vital functions: It spread the sound in pulsed waves around the room, giving it a mechanical reverb quality, and it also cooled the internal workings of the whole machine so it didn't burst into flames in the middle of a number.
I have never looked inside one of these analogue machines, but I would imagine they are stuffed full of valves and diodes and probably take a minute or two to warm up, as the soft, orange glow of a hundred filaments promise rich sounds to come.
How would you explain the quality of a Hammond organ which sets it apart from all the others? Anyone who has ever consciously heard one would instantly recognise it as such from a single note played for one second. Just imagine what a swelling chord sounds like. Actually, don't bother. I will put up another audio clip - this time making sure it's a Hammond.
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