The Ted Taylor Organsound - "Harvest Home" (Hymns A'Swingin')
When I was 13, I showed some alleged promise as a piano player, and took a music-writing class at a local Methodist church. I was assigned to set a few Bible verses to music. Preoccupied with my elaborate sexual fantasies, I neglected this assignment until about 30 minutes before deadline, then scratched out some notes on a blank sheet of paper. My teacher liked it so much that she had the church choir sing it the following Sunday. It was weird, sitting there in a suit, listening to something I wrote but didn’t recognize.
The composer is god. God definitely plays dice with the universe. I mean, come on – if god made us in his image, what else is he going to do for a hobby? It’s up to the performers to do something interesting with the material.
Hymns A’Swingin’, scored by the Ted Taylor Organsound and sung my the Mike Sammes Singers, has been an “underground classic” for a minute. Since the late 1960s, that is. And it’s back to put the swing back into fantasies of swinging London, the sense of humor back into lite-psych kitsch, and the swiveling joints back into sly mockery of the concept of the afterlife. Maybe because a lot of people grew up surrounded by the artistic paraphernalia of Christianity, and some of those people get a whole host of thrills hearing “Harvest Home” as crotch-swinging funk, “40 Days and 40 Nights” as a hungover jazz ballad, “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken” as a sitar-laced lite-psych freak-in, and “All Things Bright and Beautiful” as some hot, hot mambo. If it’s irony, then thank god for irony. Either way, it’s some complex, fascinating funk music, ready to bring any smirking ironist up to its mysterious level.
Deeply engrained mythology, when rendered as kitsch, can be good for a few deep yuks and some moody after-dinner introspection. Funk/jazz/misc. music this deep, elaborately constructed and brilliantly self-aware will always (or at least repeatedly) be fun for the hell of it.