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Electric Pong Orchestra - Tales of the Electric Pong
 

Electric Pong Orchestra - Tales of the Electric Pong

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Title:  Tales of the Electric Pong
Company: Pelican/Baby Grand
Catalog: SE 1004
Year: 1977
Country/State: US
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: --

Pelican Records was an offshoot of the California-based Baby Grand label. Apparently one of those mid-1970s tax scam enterprises, the Baby Grand/Pelican catalog's quite large, though there are big gaps in the documented catalog.

Written and produced by Dennis Dreith (Ronald Fair serving as executive producer), this is nothing but speculation on my part, but my guess is that 1977's "Tales of the Electric Pong" reflected material Dreith had previously written and recorded for various television and movie projects. Pelican somehow got access to the results, repackaging it as a quickie tax dodge release. Given Dreith's musical background, that might not be a major stretch. He started his professional musical career in the mid-1960s working as an arranger and ghost writer for Hanna Barbera cartoons. That led to composing and orchestrating scores for television films and motion pictures such as Howard the Duck, The Shadow, Purple People Eater, The Punisher, etc. Whatever the story, musically the album featured a collection of throwaway atmospheric instrumentals - I've heard stuff like this referred to as incidental music, that bounced all over the genre map including experimental, funk. jazz-rock fusion, and easy listening moves. Nothing here was going to change you world, but then that was the intent.

- Most of the first side was taken up by the instrumental 'Tales of the Electric Pong'. A three part instrumental suite, 'Tales', 'Interlude' and 'Three' sounded like a cross between Booker T. & the MGs and something that might have been penned for the soundtrack for a cheapy television detective series. Course that only made sense given Dreith's extensive background in television and films. Needless to say, the Booker T. segments sounded a lot better than the television soundtrack segments. rating: ** stars
- Well, say what you will about this album, but the instrumental 'Trio for Alto Flute, English Horn, & Bass Clarinet' was an apt description of the tune ... Very experimental and somewhat atonal, it's almost guaranteed to send rock fans running for the door in a hurry. rating: * star
- Giving credit where due, side two's 'Karuna' exhibited a nice jazz-rock guitar solo and a touch of funk in the mix, but still retained that distinctive television soundtrack feel - easy to imagine the main character detective strolling along a beach thinking about his case ... rating: *** stars
- Another truth-in-advertising cut kicked along by a slinky melody and some of the cheesiest synthesizers you'll ever hear 'Southern Slink' was probably the standout performance. rating: *** stars
- Another synthesizer-propelled number, 'Nrujo' was the kind of jazz-rock fusion background piece you would have heard in a happening 1970s restaurant. rating: ** stars

"Tales of the Electric Pong" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Tales of the Electric Pong (instrumental) (Dennis Dreith)
i.) Tales (instrumental) - 6:04
ii.) Interlude (instrumental) - 1:14
iii.) Three (instrumental) - 4:27
2.) Trio for Alto Flute, English Horn, & Bass Clarinet (instrumental) (Dennis Dreith) - 1:21

(side 2)
1.) Karuna (instrumental) - 5:53 (Dennis Dreith) - 5:53
2.) Southern Slink (instrumental) - 3:01 (Dennis Dreith) - 3:01
3.) Nrujo (instrumental) - 3:11 (Dennis Dreith) - 3:11
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