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Moon Express - Prophetic Spirit - CD
Price: $12.78
Retail: $15.98
Availability: In Stock
Item #: MHCD-029 -

    Blazing sitar and crazed percussion, a 50 year old mystery! Known only in legend from their appearance in 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee, the Moon Express album finally arrives 50 years after its recording! Paul Arnold (mastermind behind The Inner Sounds Of The Id) and Tsvia & the Followers weave peculiar music that ebbs and flows with unusual time signatures, sonic baths of wild, exotic percussion and other fascinating and hypnotic sounds, all under Arnold's booming narratives and Tsvia...

    Moon Express - Prophetic Spirit - LP
    Price: $20.78
    Retail: $25.98
    Availability: In Stock
    Item #: MH-8029 -

      Blazing sitar and crazed percussion, a 50 year old mystery! Known only in legend from their appearance in 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee, the Moon Express album finally arrives 50 years after its recording! Paul Arnold (mastermind behind The Inner Sounds Of The Id) and Tsvia & the Followers weave peculiar music that ebbs and flows with unusual time signatures, sonic baths of wild, exotic percussion and other fascinating and hypnotic sounds, all under Arnold's booming narratives and Tsvia...

      In 1969 NBC aired 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee, a psychedelic Darwinian themed TV special that featured the Monkees as evolutionary beings while representing the sorry state of mankind in the 20th Century. The hourlong special had quite an impressive lineup of performers which included Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Brian Auger and Julie Driscoll, The Clara Ward Singers, We Three and….Paul Arnold’s Moon Express. This would be the general public’s one and only opportunity to know that there was such a thing as the Moon Express and if you missed the credits at the end you wouldn’t even have known that. It was a modern impressionistic piece of music with Arnold’s thundering narrative sounding over blazing sitar, exotic percussion and dancers clad in bizarre looking skin tight outfits from head to toe.

      Just two years prior Arnold had produced The Inner Sounds Of The Id, a tripped-out, Freudian frolic which arguably holds the distinction of being rock’s first true concept LP. Over fifty years later, like an undiscovered comet suddenly appearing out of the void of space and time, the Moon Express landed—David Sukonick, Arnold’s nephew, had tapes for an unissued album entitled Prophetic Spirit, a lost long play project that never saw the light of day until now.

      Paul Arnold was born in Philadelphia in 1933 and was a celebrated violinist by the time he was in his early teens, winning the Young Artist competition of California playing the Sibelius Violin Concerto, and becoming the United States representative to the second Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1962. He studied with Toscha Seidel, a Russian virtuoso who was heard on several Hollywood productions including Intermezzo and Melody For Three. It was Toscha who helped Paul find work and establish himself at Hollywood’s Universal and 20th Century Fox Studios.

      But Arnold’s insatiable curiosity of eclectic music styles went much further than the strict confines of the classical world and, in the swingin’ ‘60s scene of LA, he found the musicians and people that he needed to realize his unique personal and musical ambitions and vision. He studied yoga with Swami Vishnudevananda Saraswati, could tell you all about Haitian voodoo culture, was well versed in Shakespeare and took keen interest in the vegetarian lifestyle, all the while listening to gospel, jazz, r&b, pop, electronica and folk records for hours over cucumbers and onions or other unusual snacks. Arnold was a busy man during this time performing on recording sessions for Frank Sinatra, film soundtracks and giving concert violin performances. He also co-produced an r&b version of Othello, Catch My Soul, at the vaunted Ahmanson Theater in LA.

      Amid all this, after the Id release in ‘67, Arnold turned his attention to his next project, Moon Express, which featured Tsvia Abarbanel and her group the Followers. Born in Radda, South East Yemen in the late ‘40s, Abarbanel immigrated with her parents to Israel where she spent most of her youth as a shepherdess. She learned the culture and traditions of Yemen including the music and chants typical to the region. In 1962, she was a member of the Inbal Dance Theater, which was invited to Los Angeles to participate in the making of the film The Greatest Story Ever Told. Wanting to expand her musical studies, she chose to stay post-production and enrolled at the University of Los Angeles.

      It was at the university where she met Paul Arnold. “One day, a young man of about 30 entered the classroom in a state of emotional turmoil,” she said. “He shook my teacher’s hand apologizing for his outburst in class. My teacher, Bob Stasburg, tried to calm him by asking him to sit down and telling him that at the end of the lesson he would be happy to listen to him.

      “There was something intriguing about him,” she recalled. “I asked my teacher, who this guy was? He said to me, ‘Come and meet him, he’s a very special guy, a gifted musician, and he plays the violin with great skill.’ My teacher asked Paul, ‘Why are you here at the University? What happened?’ “‘Listen, Bob,’ he said, ‘I packed the violin and put it in the closet, that’s it. I decided to go mad like all the young people of today. This decision came to me after I was exposed to Johnny Cash’s singing. I can write music to this wave of flower youth much better.’ Paul demonstrated a verse of a very beautiful and challenging rhythm…ta-te, tatete,ta-te,ta-te,taa-te.

      “Bob looked at me and and said, ‘Go to Tsvia and start working. She has a lot to contribute.’ And from that moment on we met in my apartment in Hollywood. We worked every morning for four hours, almost two years. Paul wrote very varied music, and formed a band and he named this project The Id. Then he worked on another project, Tsvia & the Followers, also known as the Moon Express.”

      Recording sessions for the Moon Express album began in late ’67 and weren’t completed until sometime in 1969. Not much is known beyond that except for the music, which ebbs and flows throughout with unusual time signatures, exotic percussion and fascinating sounds brewing under Arnold’s booming narratives and Tsvia’s Star Trek-meets-the Middle East vocals. “My Little Corner Of The Earth” features the transceleste, a belled instrument which a friend of Arnold’s invented, and other peculiar sounds weaving in and out between hypnotic group chanting and wolf-like calls. “Wilderness, Ocean, And Space” is just plain weird and cool and “The Morning Cometh” is a sonic bath of wild percussion. Listen closely to the tracks and you might hear the maestro tapping on a crystal wine glass or other everyday artifacts. And Tsvia’s vocals on Prophetic Spirit are out of this world: haunting, powerful, and beautiful at the same time. She also played ethnic percussion instruments such as a darbuka, silver tray, and cymbals on the collection. Shortly after the album was finished Arnold’s life changed in a sudden and tragic flash; while making a call in a phone booth on La Brea Ave., he was struck by an out of control automobile and was severely injured. Everything—the Moon Express LP, his work on a new Broadway musical and a thousand other plans and dreams—were put on hold indefinitely. Although now crippled, he kept composing great music and making plans, but it would never be quite the same for a man of such previously unbridled energy and enthusiasm. Arnold passed away in 1991.

      Tsvia & the Followers scored some high profile gigs including being featured on Andy Williams 1967 TV Special and in 1969 they appeared at The Hollywood Bowl opening for Donovan. Tsvia eventually returned to Israel where she still resides and has made several fine recordings including “Wings Of Love” which combines the best of both east and west with her extraordinary vocal stylings and compositions. This album is a work ahead of its time with world music touches, ecology themes and a questioning of the status quo. Prophetic Spirit alone was on the cutting edge of a growing social movement, with a narrative that is both a cry of despair and a plea for hope and peace in an America that has lost its way and purpose. His take no prisoners at any cost siren call is both frighteningly accusatory and as reassuring as God himself, and the deft arrangements are a tightly wound, perfectly executed multi-layered cacophony of sound and movement.

      —MIKE VERNON Los Angeles, 2018 In addition to his surf/instro band, 3 Balls Of Fire, and crime jazz group, The M-Squad, guitarist Burnin’ Mike Vernon has performed with Jerry Cole, Link Wray, Nokie Edwards of The Ventures, Davie Allan & The Arrows, and George Tomsco of The Fireballs.