In the Moog for Classic Rock?

The Moog Cookbook Plays The Classic Rock Hits (Restless)
The Moog Cookbook

By Tim Roberts

It was in 1970. I was in fourth grade at Gutermuth Elementary School. Our music teacher was a skinny young woman named Mrs. Cox. One day she brought in a recording of what she called "electronic music," which may have been Walter (now Wendy) Carols's Switched on Bach. I'm not sure. I listened and heard all the swooshies and bweeps this music had. She said it was made by something called a moog synthesizer, then she showed us a picture of it: an electric piano mated to some humongous electronic panel with patch cords spewing from every inch of it.

Nowadays that same device is small enough to fit on your desk, used in bands mostly to be the instrument that isn't present. It can sound like a guitar, an organ, a drum, a set of voices. Plus it can still do all the swooshies and bweeps. The duo named The Moog Cookbook has brought back the swooshie and bweep classic synthesizer sound in their second recording Plays the Classic Hits.

Moog Cookbook is two men - Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. and Brian Kehew - who wear jumpsuits made of what looks like Reynolds Wrap, Converse sneakers, and space helmets. They play banks of synthesizers, use vox boxes to sing, and, every once in a while, sneak in a real set of drums.

A follow up to their self-titled debut from 1996 which did moog versions of hits from Green Day, Nirvana, and Lenny Kravitz, Classic Rock Hits is just as funny as the first. It's more than a novelty, like William Shatner's dramatic renditions of lyrics from Dark Side of the Moon. Think of it as elevator music for geeks.

And the renditions are dead-on. The intro of their version of Boston's "More Than a Feeling" fades in, just as the original does. During the break between portions of "Whole Lotta Love," the duo inserts brief synth riffs from other classics: "Teenage Wasteland," "Speak to Me," "Won't Get Fooled Again," and "Fly Like an Eagle." Van Halen's "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" contains lyrics spoken in an electric monotone. A chorus of "Cat Scratch Fever" sounds like it's being mewed by a dozen cats. Old-time Chicago fans might cringe when they hear "25 or 6 to 4" done as an electric cocktail lounge song.

Hardcore classic rock devotees may think this recording a sacrilege. The rest of us can laugh our butts off. This is fun stuff well done.