TWO HEADED FREAP: ALBUM REVIEW
When I think of organ music, my mind immediately jumps to the very Baroque works of Johann Sebastian Bach, specifically “Toccata and Fugue in D minor,” that one cliche haunted house song. Some days, I might instead think of church organ music--maybe “Pomp and Circumstance” during a wedding or graduation, or from that one time they decided to give my atheist grandfather a Christian funeral. I can still hear “Amazing Grace” being played on the organ while a middle-aged Korean choir sang along; yikes. Simply put, organ music had never been my vibe. Ronnie Foster’s debut record Two Headed Freap (1972) changed that for me.
Foster’s style is upbeat, funky, and energizing, though some criticize his lack of improvisation when compared to piano virtuosos like Thelonious Monk. I personally didn’t find much issue with this--Foster’s music is drastically different from that of bebop legends such as Monk. The organ sounds very electronic and nearly synthy, and at times almost sounds like an electric guitar, albeit one with heavy effects pedals. The intro of the album’s final track, “Kentucky Fried Chicken,” almost reminded me of Jimi Hendrix’s hit “Foxey Lady.” Even beyond the novelty of Foster’s organ, I simply found this album so much fun to listen to. Its more upbeat songs are truly invigorating, and it includes some more soothing, tranquil pieces for balance. A very pleasant 37 minutes overall.
Let me take you through some high points on this album. On track 5, Foster covers Al Green’s classic “Let’s Stay Together,” a song you’ll probably recognize from the infamous scene in Pulp Fiction where the audience gets to stare at a Band-Aid on Ving Rhames’ neck for five minutes. Track 7, “Mystic Brew,” is a melancholy but captivating piece that was sampled on A Tribe Called Quest’s “Electric Relaxation.” Both are amazing songs; you’d have a really hard time getting me to choose one. Modern jazz group BADBADNOTGOOD also did a dope cover of “Electric Relaxation”/”Mystic Brew.” (If you enjoy it, definitely check out the track “Triangle” from their album III.) Finally, I really loved the aforementioned “Kentucky Fried Chicken.”
I still can’t believe that an organ song can be this funky. It’s James Brown-esque at times and probably was the most influential in changing my opinion on the organ. Honestly, baroque instruments as a whole have grown on me as of late. The Doors’ and Vampire Weekend’s utilization of the harpsichord in particular have been really eye-opening to me, but I digress. Overall, Two Headed Freap is a solid, exciting album that’ll get you to hop on team End Organ Slander™. We’ll welcome you with open arms.