Lothar and the Hand People were a psychedelic rock band that got their start in Denver, Colorado in 1965. They relocated to New York City in 1966. They were arguably one of the first bands to start the genre of space rock and they were an influential band in the sense that they were considered the first band to tour and record with synthesisers, which paved the way for many other musicians to do the same.
Specifically, they pioneered the use of the theremin and the Moog modular synthesizer. These instruments gave Lothar and the Hand People a very different, and at times otherworldly sound that was not heard in rock music up until that time. The most interesting aspect of the theremin, is that it can be played without touching the instrument.
Lothar and the Hand Hand People have an interesting, if not weird story behind the band. They use a theremin that they called “Lothar” and the people in the band are referred to as the “Hand People.” The band’s music is wild, fun, and interesting, if not a bit strange. However, I found them to be innovative and influential, in a childish, adolescent sort of way.
The band’s first album, of only two that they recorded, is title “Presenting…Lothar and the Hand People.” The record is a bit hard to grasp on a first listen, and I wasn’t overly impressed. However, after subsequent listens, it grew on me, and my sense of an interest in all things strange but enjoyable.
The first song on the record was a funky cover of Manfred Mann’s song “Machines.” It is quirky and rather tough to immediately appreciate, but it becomes catchy after a few listens. It is a futuristic song about how machines will rule over people, put in a silly way that makes it seem as though it is aimed at being childish. Interesting, but weird.
The next song on the record, This Is It, is a smooth song with a nice flow to it, and the guitar solo in the middle has a nice country twangy feel. This is a nice contrast to the clunky, mechanical feel of the first song.
This May Be Goodbye sounds like the beginning of a 1970’s funk song, with the synthesizer intro. It is a good song, not on of the better one’s on the record though.
That’s Another Story is a entertaining song with the synthesizer in the background that sounds a bit like a soundtrack from an old west movie.
Kids Are Little People is just plain weird, but fun. At first listen, I almost skipped over to the next tune, but I gave it a chance. It comes across as playful and nerdy, and one has to wonder if these guys were really just a bunch of crazy musicians, out to have a bit of fun. I think that is the correct assumption, they were not going to write any deep philosophical pinings here. Just good, psychedelic, trippy fun. A record full of fun fluff, but good fluff, in a world of madness that was representative in late sixties culture.
Ha (Ho) starts off with the theremin, then develops into a well written insightful piece that turns into a chorus of gibberish. Hence the name of the song. There is a nice psychedelic guitar solo in the middle. Strange, but entertaining.
Sex and Violence, a rambling piece about, well, sex and violence. Not a lot of lyrical content here, and the song is not dark and sleazy as the title suggests. Just a trippy psychedelic song with little to add to the world other than some weirdness.
Bye Bye Love is a cover of a 1957 song made famous by The Everly Brothers. A song that has been covered numerous times by many artists, this particular cover version is adequately recorded, if not with a bit of a silly feel to it, as is the way much of the record comes across.
Milkweed Love is trippy, psychedelic, if not a bit slow. Good song to relax in the sun to on the beach in 1968. Woody Woodpecker is hilarious. Sixties music performed for and by, a bunch of stoned out hippies and it is great. I really did come around a bit too late to appreciate this at the time!
It Comes On Anyhow is a trip, literally. Fun, weird, psychedelic. Paul, In Love finishes out the record with the theremin making one last stand on the record. Psychedelic ending to a truly psychedelic musical voyage.
Presenting…Lothar and the Hand People may have been obscure, and never really found much commercial success, but they sure were innovative. And weird. And trippy. And all sixties! The record is a good attempt at something weird and wonderful. It succeeded on both counts, and though not one of my favorites from the psychedelic era, they sure did make an impression on me. I’m just not sure what the heck it is. Worth a listen, for sure.