From the Stacks

From The Stacks: Paul Tanner, ‘Music For Heavenly Bodies’

Paul Tanner was a fascinating dude. If all he ever did was play trombone in the Glenn Miller Orchestra he would have secured his place in music history, but that was just the beginning for Tanner. After a stretch in the Army during World War Two, the musician became a professor at UCLA, where he pioneered the school’s jazz program.

But even that’s not what makes Paul Tanner such a fascinating dude, at least not if you’re a fan of electronic music and–get this–the Beach Boys. Along with a guy named Bob Whitsell, Tanner was the inventor of the electro-theremin, that ooo-eee-ooo instrument that gives “Good Vibrations” and any number of vintage sci-fi movies their unique sound. That’s Tanner playing on “Good Vibrations,” by the way.

Music For Heavenly Bodies, originally released in 1958, was a showcase for Tanner’s oddball instrument, and if you’re an electronic or lounge music fan it’s a must have. It’s weird and fun, and that album cover–come on!

An original pressing of Music For Heavenly Bodies will cost you 40-50 bucks, but this reissue from Modern Harmonic will only run you about half of that. It sounds great, too. Happy hunting.

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