18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 11 November 2005
This is a professional production of an official double disc set that was released in 2004 (5 years after Hardin's death.) It looks good and has 44 enclosed pages of valuable information about Moondog, such as a detailed biography, discography, Moondog's own words about the recordings, personnel listings, lyrics, pictures and a poem that Leonard Bernstein wrote to and about Moondog.
Also seeing quotes of Benny Goodman and Frank Zappa praising Moondog's music is particularly exhilarating for a Zappa fan like myself (I had no idea.)
The first disc consists of already released material, most of which I already owned when I bought this set. This disappointed me a bit, as I'd expected additional versions of these titles provided on the back.
The set is called "The German Years," but includes 5 tracks that are taken from "Sax Pax for a Sax" - an album that was recorded in England and performed by English musicians, and consists mainly of material that was written while Moondog lived in New York. Other albums that songs have been taken from are "H'art Songs" (4 tracks,) "In Europe" (4 tracks,) "Elpmas" (4 tracks,) "A New Sound of an Old Instrument" (3 tracks,) "Big Band" (1 track) and "Bracelli" (1 track.)
The 56 minute long disc #2 is the essential music in this set as it consists of only previously unreleased material. It is Moondog's last concert, which was recorded in France on August 1st, 1999 (less than 6 weeks prior to his passing.)
The concert, which consisted of both rare and recent material, was performed on solo piano by Dominique Ponty. At times Moondog joins in on bass drum, and here and there he recites a few couplets - a nice treat. But as always, when it comes to live recordings of solo piano performances, we have to deal with intruding sounds; aside from applause we get a few hundred coughs, a squeaking door that repeatedly opens and closes, at one point the barking of a distant dog, at one point the sirens of an ambulance driving by the recording location, and believe it or not - audience members trying to clap along to one of the solo piano canons! ...but overall the sound quality is very good and clear.
I'd recommend "The German Years 1977-1999" to Moondog fans (who haven't heard his last concert,) but to people who aren't familiar with his work, this is probably not the optimal place to start.