Saturday, January 24, 2015

Re-listening to Signs of the Zodiac Libra by Mort Garson

Just before I started kindergarten, while my parents still ran their home cleaning and landscaping business, they came home with a haul of items left in an abandoned house that they thought my sister and I may have wanted. Several items in particular were record albums, an Olivia Newton John country album, one by Lynn Anderson, another by Boots Randolph and the last was entitled Sounds of the Zodiac: Libra which was just one of a twelve record series. My sister quickly discarded the astrology album within a minute of the needle hitting the vinyl. Same with Boots and Lynn and they all found their way into my collection of records containing awesome selections from the Peter Pan Players and Disneyland Records.

My Disco 80:Live from Emerson record player was a hand-me-down from my sister and was one typical of what children had at the time. The only exception that made it special compared to other record players was that it had a set of flashing disco lights in the front. These lights had no bearing on most of the vinyl that spun on the turntable...until I played Signs of the Zodiac Libra with my bedroom only lit by the lights of my record player.

The album was 90% spoken word featuring 3 voices, 2 men and a woman and the music was pretty much electronic "mood" of the 60's but not what you'd hear on pop albums from the same time. I later found out the music was created by the pioneer of the Moog synthesizer, Mort Garson. The voices, at the time weren't familiar to me in the least and forgotten over time...until I recently got my hands on the entire Signs of the Zodiac series.

Listening to this album and the 11 others in it's series, 34 years later, has made me wonder why I actually listened to this series. The music, while unique, is overpowered by the spoken words and the words spoken aren't exactly fit for the mind of a pre-schooler. It seems most of the "lyrics" are adapted from Zolar's It's All In The Stars book and spoken over the weirdest, trippiest sound effects and music. The three narrators used on this series were up-coming voiceover artists/actors. The very first voice heard on the album sent me back to my childhood, a few years after my first listen of this album...John Erwin, also known as HE-MAN!!! The female narrator is Nancy Priddy, a singer/actress as well as the mother of actress Christina Applegate. The third narrator is Michael Bell, well known for his voicework in the Smurfs, Rugrats, many video games as well as stage work and live action television roles.

I transferred every one of these 30 minute albums to my iPod and listened to each one of the actors put everything they had into reciting the creepy drivel. While I enjoyed the nostalgic value of the Libra album and the unique quality of the music, this series is proof that there are people out there that will buy anything. It's silly and mesmerizing at the same time. Each album in the series contains the same background music but with different view points for each sign of the zodiac. Though I was listening to this album through my earbuds, I made sure the volume was low enough were people around me wouldn't hear any of the contents of the albums I was listening to...I'd rather someone not tap me on the shoulder and question my already questionable musical taste.

I understand that there are many people out there that have been searching for copies of these albums, I guess you could say it has a cult following. Though I'm not really one to share links to acquire ripped copies of albums, this set is LONG out of print, really hard to find and will most likely never see the light of day in the world of re-releases. You will find download links on a page dedicated to similar music at

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