Regardless of whether an organist is mashing away on something as blatantly sinister as Chopin's "Funeral March" or lightheartedly bouncing his way around "Take Me Out To The Ball Game," the sound of a pipe organ has always given me the creeps. Not the creeps in the sense that I'm deathly afraid but just enough to make me feel edgy and unsettled.
I think a lot of this unease comes from the slightly "off" tone that music performed on a pipe organ has. The upbeat songs, regardless of their tempo and subject matter, have the tendency to just come off as teetering on the brink of insanity. The perception would also suggest that the man feverishly pumping those pedals and digging his way around those layers of keys is one wrong-note away from a straight jacket. I imagine a lot of my fears have not been helped by films such as The Phantom Of The Opera and Carnival Of Souls.
Now on the opposite end of the spectrum is the Hammond electric organ… regardless of the subject matter or the intended tone, the Hammond always sounds smooth and cool. Whether it's Jimmy Smith smoothly skipping his way through "I Cover the Waterfront," Booker T. & The MG's fluidly rocking their way through "Green Onions" or my all-time favorite Hammond organist, Jackie Mittoo, killing it with the super hip tune "Henry The Great," it always sounds good!
And unlike the pipe organists, the guys rockin' the Hammonds seem like the kinda guys you'd love to hang out with after their sets and have a few drinks. They seem less likely to savagely murder you in a pipe-organ-fueled, blood-soaked orgy of uncontrollable rage when they miss a breath-mark on their sheet music. I think hanging out with Jimmy Smith, Booker T and Jackie Mittoo may end with one hell of a hangover the next day but hanging out with a pipe organist may end with your dismembered body being buried in a shallow grave beneath their basement crawlspace.
Which leads us to today's Spooktacular tune… this one is called "Midnight Organ" by a Hammond organist named Jackie Taylor and released as a 7" in 1978 on the Solar label. Believe me, "Midnight Organ" has an evil and foreboding overall feel but with Taylor's style of play and with the Hammond itself, you can't disguise the hipness underneath!