Presenting Lothar & The Hand People
02. This Is It
03. This May Be Goodbye
04. That's Another Story
05. Kids Are Little People
06. Ha (Ho)
07. Sex and Violence
08. Bye Bye Love
09. Milkweed Love
10. You Won't Be Lonely
11. The Woody Woodpecker Song
12. It Comes on Anyhow
13. Paul, in Love
14. Have Mercy (Mercy, Mercy, Mercy)
15. Let the Boy Pretend
16. L-O-V-E (Ask for It By Name)
17. Rose Colored Glasses
18. Every Single Word
19. Comic Strip
Lothar and the Hand People was a late-1960s psychedelic rock band known for its spacey music and pioneering use of the theremin and Moog modular synthesizer.
The band's unusual appellation refers to a theremin nicknamed "Lothar", with the "Hand People" being the musicians in the band, who included John Emelin (vocals), Paul Conly (keyboards, synthesizer), Rusty Ford (bass), Tom Flye (drums) and Kim King (guitar, synthesizer).
The band was notable for being "the first rockers to tour and record using synthesizers, thereby inspiring the generation of electronic music-makers who immediately followed them." Formed in Denver in 1965, Lothar and the Hand People relocated to New York in 1966. The band jammed with Jimi Hendrix and played gigs with groups such as The Byrds, Grateful Dead, The Lovin' Spoonful, Canned Heat, and the Chambers Brothers. Lothar and the Hand People played music for Sam Shepard's play The Unseen Hand, and was the opening act at the Atlantic City Pop Festival.
After three initial singles, Capitol Records released two albums by this short-lived band: Presenting...Lothar and the Hand People (1968, produced by Robert Margouleff) and Space Hymn (1969, produced by Nick Venet). A Rolling Stone review described Lothar and the Hand People's music:
It is electronic country, a kind of good-time music played by mad dwarfs, and it is really good to listen to. There is no tension here, no jarring forces at war with each other. It may be strange that New York, the city which deifies speed and insanity, could produce this music, but it is as if Lothar and the Hand People have gone through this madness and come out on the other side, smiling.
The band's most popular recording was the title song "Space Hymn," which received significant FM radio play.
The first album featured a notable "robotic" cover of Manfred Mann's UK hit "Machines" (composed by Mort Shuman), which Capitol released as a single.
In 1997, The Chemical Brothers sampled the Lothar song "It Comes on Anyhow" in "It Doesn't Matter" on their album Dig Your Own Hole. A music video for "Space Hymn" screened in 2004 at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival and the ION International Animation, Games, and Short Film Festival in Los Angeles.
Lothar and the Hand People was the source for a Saturday Night Live skit called "Lothar of the Hill People" and a Boston-area theremin band named The Lothars
Lothar and the Hand People first came to my knowledge through an archived WFMU show in which the DJ played "It Comes On Anyhow", one of the best pieces of musique concrete I have ever heard, especially from a rock band - it is way better than the Beatles' "Revolution No. 9." Apparently it was later sampled by Crystal Method.
So I went to the CD store and found this CD, put it in and was blown away by its sheer awesomeness. With the exception of one or two songs, the album invokes everything great about the 1960s, but also foresees the future. "Machines" is definitely my favorite, with its clanging percussion and Moog lines nearly formulating into easily one of the coolest songs from the 60s. Songs about machines taking over the earth are cool in general, I guess, but my bet would be this is one of the first. Not to mention that Lothar were one of the first rock bands to use both a Moog and a theremin.
"This May Be Goodbye", "Every Single Word" and "Ha (Ho)" remind me of mid-period Beatles, both in songwriting and innovativeness. "L-O-V-E (Ask for It By Name)" sounds dated, but in that catchily classic way - how this escapes the oldies stations I have no clue. "Rose Colored Glasses" is a gorgeous, lush ballad that calls to mind Love. "Sex and Violence" sounds like Beefheart's Magic Band with Lou Reed and the Beatles guesting on vocals. "Woody Woodpecker" is humorous. "Kids are Little People" is catchily Zappaesque. The gorgeous theremin piece "Paul, In Love" predates Eno's ambient music by nearly a decade.
One could make a convincing argument that Lothar sounds like Frank Zappa fronting the Olivia Tremor Control, a modern Beatlesque pop band utilizing electronics and tape experiments. One could also make the argument they sound like a Silver Apples-Velvet Underground side project. Or maybe a long lost Beatles-Faust collaborative session. Whatever the case may be, Lothar are truly one of the greatest bands of all time, and it's a travesty they are confined to the footnotes of music history.