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Don Lewis | Twelve Gates to the City

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United States - California - SF

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Pop: 80's Pop Electronic: Pop Crossover Moods: Solo Male Artist
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Twelve Gates to the City

by Don Lewis

This digitally remastered album (originally released 1983 on Catero Records) features dynamic Don Lewis vocals, vocoder, and performances of music from the '80's on LEO, Live Electronic Orchestra, (a system of vintage, analog synthesizers.)
Genre: Pop: 80's Pop
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Twelve Gates to the City
4:44 $0.99
2. Chariots of Fire
4:22 $0.99
3. Battle Hymn of the Republic/burden Down
5:22 $0.99
4. A Song for You
3:50 $0.99
5. One in a Million You
5:31 $0.99
6. One Hundred Ways
3:35 $0.99
7. Hill Street Blues
4:55 $0.99
8. Endless Love
5:31 $0.99
9. Just the Two of Us
3:41 $0.99
10. Birdland
5:18 $0.99
11. You've Got a Friend
4:11 $0.99
12. Close Encounters
5:04 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes

“Don Lewis, Master of Sonic Concoctions”...”When Lewis opens his mouth to sing, out come the voices of a dozen young girls.” Joel Selvin, San Francisco Chronicle (1981)

“The Lewis performance is great entertainment from beginning to end”...”I was wholly absorbed in Lewis’ genius” Philip Elwood, San Francisco Examiner (1981)

Don Lewis is an extraordinary artist with a superb technical ability and a musical sensitivity that set him apart in his field. He designed and built the complex synthesizer he accompanies himself on while he sings. With it, Don can create a single instrument or an entire symphony orchestra complete with vocal chorus and cathedral organ. His performance covers a wide variety of musical moods ranging from rock and pop to oratorios and concertos. In this recording, we hear Don Lewis exactly as he sounds during his live performance. There are no “over-dubs” or multi-channel recording techniques used. Don is performing all the vocals, including the background voices, playing all the musical instruments, even the rhythm section, all at the same time. In short, he well may be the best one person show around. Fred Catero (1983)

At the end of each Museum of Making Music tour, we share the unique story of Don Lewis and his Live Electronic Orchestra (LEO) with our guests. Since Mr. Lewis first loaned the historically significant instrument to the museum in 2001, LEO has become one of the main characters in the story of instruments that have changed the world.

The concept of a large collection of keyboards and wires being anything but an inanimate object is only difficult to understand for people who have not met the man who breathed life into LEO, Don Lewis. Lewis is so full of life himself that all those affected by his amazingly powerful spirit may overlook his extraordinary talents as a musician When MIDI technology needed a poster boy, LEO showed the world the importance of instruments working together in harmony-just like the message that Lewis conveys of people working in harmony.

LEO is one of the greatest achievements in the history of musical instruments, and music, on many levels, is better because of it existence.

Daniel R. Del Fiorentino, Curator, Museum of Making Music, Carlsbad, CA

My inspiration comes from many places, people and times. One of the most significant inspirations came to me when Walter Carlos took classical music and created a new idea with the sound of the synthesizers in the Switched on Bach record album(©1968). It was a wonderfully creative tour de force which gave new life to music. My dream then was to play and sing an entire spectrum of music including symphonic, gospel, pop, and jazz styles.

Music synthesizers were in their infancy at that time and were monophonic so the musician could only play one note per keyboard. The organ sound, though polyphonic, didn't have the tonal flexibility of the synthesizers. Therefore in addition to playing a two manual organ, I had multiple keyboards and synthesizer units in my setup. It was acceptable in a studio setting but playing in clubs became quite a challenge! I dreamed of being able to control all the power of the synthesizers and the organ in a console like a three manual organ.* The LEO (Live Electronic Orchestra) dream manifested when I began to draw blueprints (1974), had the clear cases custom made by a plastics company (1975), and hired Richard Bates to be my chief engineer (1977).

The heart and soul of LEO was that it was a combination of different technologies from around the world, interfaced to speak as one instrument. It would be much like taking people from different countries and having them share a common cause; all being able to speak a common language. LEO with it’s warm, analog sounds, was well suited to the music I was playing in the 80’s. In addition to playing the orchestra all at once, I was able through the Roland Vocoder Plus to create the effect of a choir. “Twelve Gates to the City” reflects the interplay of LEO with the richness of the beautiful ballads, the instrumentals, the jazz and gospel music of that period.
Don Lewis 2003

*MIDI (Music Instrument Digital Interface) which allowed instruments from different manufacturers to work together was proposed by Ikutaro Kakehashi (founder of Roland Corporation) and introduced to the industry in 1983 at the NAMM Show (National Association of Music Merchants.)



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