Monday, 2 November 2015

Machines : Lothar & the Hand People

First... I'd like to apologise for my prolonged absence from 101 Songs About Robots. I got focused on work and enjoyed doing as little as possible when not at work, then I found myself unemployed and a dark grey shroud of glumness enveloped me. I had so much planned for my robot songs blog in 2015 and now it's November, there's not much of it left! I promised you a Jonathan Coulton-athon which is yet to materialise, but whilst you're thinking 'who the flip is Jonathan Coulton?', here's a lovely little gem I heard on Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone last night.

Lothar & the Hand People were a psychedelic space rock group that hailed from Denver, Colorado and were active from 1965 until 1970. Machines is a robotic cover of a song originally released by the British beat-popsters Manfred Mann in 1966 and penned by one Mort Shuman. Yes, the very same Mort Shuman who also co-wrote Elvis' Viva Las Vegas, The Hollies' Here I Go Again, The Drifters' Sweets for my Sweet and the slightly creepy Little Children by Billy J Kramer.

This version of Machines featured on Lothar & the Hand People's 1968 d├ębut LP titled 'Presenting... Lothar & the Hand People' and was released as a 7" single in 1969. Of the three versions I've heard today, I think this one is my favourite.



Saying that, I really quite like the clockwork clankiness of Manfred Mann's 1966 original...



...and then in 1980, Shuman released his own version complete with robo-voice, a fat funky bass line and a good slice of 80s over-production that makes it sound like a hundred other songs from the era that we love and hate in equal measure. It does have a nice picture of Mort on the cover though.




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