The Neon Philharmonic

Warner Bros. 7261, 1969
Billboard: #17

Despite the grandiose name, the Neon Philharmonic was basically a one-man show with a second man out front. The man at the microphone was Nashville mainstay Don Gant, of the Acuff-Rose publishing empire, who'd maybe sung a demo or two in his day but had never had a hit single on his own. Behind him was composer/musician/advertising executive Tupper Saussy, who would one day describe his style as "standards that no one has ever heard before." Warner Bros., which had never heard anything quite like the Gant/Saussy demos, signed them to a two-LP deal. "Morning Girl," the single from The Moth Confesses, is light and breezy and beautifully orchestrated and blessedly short, which means you don't have time to notice that Saussy's lyric, sung by Gant, deals with the morning after the seduction of a young woman by some aging cad. The second album, The Neon Philharmonic, was even less conventional: it opens with the five-minute-plus "Are You Old Enough to Remember Dresden?", arguably the first visit on record to a No-Spin Zone. It didn't sell, and only one other single (the non-LP "Heighdy-Ho Princess") made the Hot 100. Gant and Saussy turned their attentions elsewhere, Gant as a Nashville producer, Saussy as a painter and tax protester; for the latter, Saussy served fourteen months in Club Fed. (Details here.) "Morning Girl," though, never quite went away: The Moth Confesses was reissued on CD in 1995 on Sundazed, with the remaining Philharmonic singles as bonus tracks, and even today you'd be hard-pressed to find this many musical textures in a mere 2:12. Both Gant and Saussy are gone now: Gant died in 1987, Saussy in 2007.

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Where can I get this on CD?
Rhino Handmade has issued all the Warner Bros. Neon Philharmonic tracks on Brilliant Colors (RHM2-7844), a two-disc limited-edition package.

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Copyright © 2007 by Charles G. Hill
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