Robert Maxwell- Shangri-La

This was a bit on the high end at the time at $4, but I really like good harp albums. Also pretty women on covers draw me to purchases.  So I figured I would check this out.

Robert Maxwell (1921-2012) was an American harpist and song writer and the British pension plunderer you may think of.  Born in New York City, he had a great little career as a harpist on stage, radio, television, and movies.  He was a true innovator of the instrument, pushing the boundaries and challenging the conventional views of the harp.  As a songwriter, he is most famous for two exotica classics “Ebb Tide” and “Shangri-La” as well as “Solfeggio”, best known for its use on the Ernie Kovacs Show (which is probably somewhat racist in today’s context).  Who says I am not current with my references?

Maxwell’s Spaceage Pop page

This album, released by Decca in 1963, comes 18 years after the title song composition.   The album itself is a wonderful collection of exotica that is heavy on orchestration, most notably, the harp. Besides the title track, there are a lot of great songs on this record including “Old Devil Moon”, “Magic in the Moonlight”, “It’s Magic”, and “That Old Black Magic”.  As described in the paragraph above, Maxwell’s harp playing is beautiful, yet in many ways, unconventional at times. The overall arrangements are wonderful.   In some songs the harp is the driving center. In others, it is purely background.  Just an overall great piece of exotica.

For a sample, I present the bedazzling “Bewitched” from Rodgers and Hart.  The opening harp is haunting indeed.  I also went with one of this blog’s favorites ” The Breeze and I”, mainly because a cannot 100% identify the instruments used.

Excellent record.  Top Billing.

Kip Anderson and the Tides- Shango! Night in a Quiet Village

Happy Monday.  By now, I should be back from vacation (although in reality at the time of this writing, I have not left). As much as I like getting ahead of myself and not having to worry about falling behind, I think I will try to keep posts a bit more current in 2018.  I feel I missed out some by not telling some of the better Houston stories while they were fresh.  Oh well, back to this, which was $1.  I got it for the exotica songs as well as the title.  The reason I am playing it today is that the record I picked out, a copy of The Nutcracker Suite, turned out to be a 78 rpm, which I kind of sensed due to its density.

Not much is known about Kip Anderson other than what I pulled off of of this Blog, Unearthed in the Atomic Age.  I believe this is the second time I referenced this site.  Anyway, Anderson, (no relation to the American R&B singer of the same name) was born in Bocas Del Toro, Panama and played the organ with various groups in various styles.  This information was also on the back cover.  I believe this is the only album he did under his own moniker.

Link to UITAA post on album

This album came out in 1965 on Kapp Records.  Despite being labeled as jazz, this is a pretty decent exotica album.  Pretty good organ parts.  Songs are good as well.  I liked a lot of it.  However, as I can only choose two samples, I went with the title track and “Voodoo Moon” which I think is the best track on the album.

Satisfactory.

Martin Denny- 20 Golden Hawaiian Hits

Doubling down on the Hawaiian this month with a record from the guy who was mentor to the earlier posted effort (Arthur Lyman), Martin Denny.  This was $2.

This record from Liberty in 1964 is not the stuff out of Denny’s prime (the late 50’s), but it is not bad either.  If I can remember right, there are none of the sound effects heard so prominently on his earlier albums (also missing is the female on the cover), but other than that, this is the classic Denny sound, applied to a series of songs (20 to be exact) related to Hawaii.  I probably mentioned this already but Denny would die in Honolulu in 2005.  His ashes were scattered at sea.

Decent album.  I liked a lot of songs and had quite a few slated as samples, but as always I go back to my favorites which are “Hawaiian War Chant” and “The Cockeyed Mayor of Kaunakakai”.  I already provided some background this month on “War Chant”.  “The Cockeyed Mayor”, on the other hand, dates back to the 1930’s I believe and celebrates the town’s custom of having honorary mayors.  I could recount the story here but I am lazy and will direct you to the link below.

News article on the mayor of Kaunakakai

Good record.  Satisfactory.

Arthur Lyman- Hawaiian Sunset

This record was $1. Lyman’s reputation in the field of exotica makes it hard to pass up his records.  Since I have posted several of his records in the past, there is not much more to say on the subject.  I chose this by design since it made for an easy post to write.

I believe this effort was Lyman’s third album under his own moniker.  Released in 1958, the songs all have a Hawaiian connotation as the title would suggest.  Good stuff.  I mean, it is consistent with Lyman’s other works.

For a sample, I went with what is one of my favorite songs, “Hawaiian War Chant”.  Written by Prince Leleiohoko in the 1860’s, the song has become sort of a jazz standard being covered by jazz bands of the 30’s and 40’s as well as its inclusion in the Tex Avery 1952 cartoon, “Magical Maestro” .  Oddly enough, the original song is not a war chant but a clandestine meeting between two lovers.

Satisfactory Record.

Baja Marimba Band- Fowl Play

Here is what I believe is the 6th record from A&M stablemates, the Baja Marimba Band.  It was $3.00.  It had a bunch of songs that I like on it.  Well, maybe  a bunch is stretching it.  It had some songs I like.

As the BMB have been on this site a couple of times, I have exhausted most of the information about Julius Wechtner’s compliment to his label mates the Tijuana Brass. Not much really more to say about them at this time.  I find their albums are a bit hit or miss.  This one is about half hit and half miss.  It was released in 1967. “Along Comes Mary”, originally by the Association was the highest charting single.  The title track was also released as a single but did not chart.

For a sample, I went with “Along Comes Mary”.

Eh.  Satisfactory enough,

 

Martin Denny- Afro-Desia

Saturday means quick posts.  Also, since I have done many posts on Martin Denny, this greatly speeds today’s entry along.  This was from the bunch of records I got from my friend Micahl so it was at a cost of $0.00.  

This could have been Denny’s sixth or so album, released in 1959 on Liberty Records.  This collection as the title would suggest as well as the back cover would state, draws its inspiration from Africa.  Lot of really good songs on here that I have posted from other artists including “Baia”, “Temptation”, “Simba” and “Siboney”.

In what is the ultimate bout of laziness, a link to Ambient Exotica’s album review.

But for a sample, I decided to go in a different direction for once and post “Cubano Chant”.  I think it was the vocal chants that drew me to it. Also, the rest of the album skipped heavily and I was too lazy to clean it.

Really good album though.  Top Rated.

Les Baxter- Quiet Village

The weekend is here (or more aptly, I am done writing this week’s posts).  This was $4.  I have posted various Les Baxter albums on this site as I am a fan.

This seems to be a compilation of various Les Baxter tunes with the intent of capitalizing on the emerging exotica scene at the time.  Albums sampled include the seminal exotica piece, Ritual of the Savage, Tamboo! (which has been featured on this blog), Ports of Pleasure, and others.  Complete with an quasi-idiotic story on the back cover of three cases of people picking up and leaving for exotic destinations, the center piece of the album is the title track.  The album cover is sure to note that this is the original version of the song (although the song is highly derivative of Brazilian Ary Barroso’s “Na Baixa Do Sapateriro” ).

Anyway,  here is “Temple of Gold”.  

Top Rated Record

Les Baxter-Tamboo

We are filling this anniversary month with a lot of frequent guests on the blog.  In that regard, there is no one less fitting than Les Baxter.  This record was $4.

Les Baxter, a talented composer and arranger in his own right, gave birth to the Exotica genre with his 1952 release of Ritual of the Savage.  And although the movement would bear it’s name from Martin Denny’s first album in 1957, it was Denny’s cover of Baxter’s “Quiet Village” that put exotica further on the map.  Denny and Arthur Lyman would both strip down Baxter’s overblown sound, but there is no doubt who came first.

Link to Baxter’s Space Age Pop Page

Link to Exotica Page

This album, released in 1956, was Baxter’s second exotica album.  It is interesting to note that both this and Ritual were done before exotica or world music for that matter were even a thing.  Although the title comes from the Haitian Creole word for drums, the music is a reflection of African and Latin American music performed in an extravagant, over-blown manner.  Critics have noted that Baxter takes exotic subject matter and perhaps dulls the edges with American orchestration.  I am not sure this is a fair criticism.  In contrast, I feel that Baxter’s arrangements bring such works to a wider audience.

For a sample, I went with the lead track, “Simba” due to the vocals as well as “Mozambique”.

 

Satisfactory record.

Arthur Lyman- Taboo

This was in the big box of records I got from my pal, Micahl and quite frankly, its probably one of the better ones if not the best.  There were several exotica albums in the mix.  This is the one I knew the most about and quite frankly, I was a bit surprised I did not already have a copy.

Along with Les Baxter and Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman is the third cog of the big three exotica musicians.  Lyman (1932-2002) was a Hawaiian native from Kauai who first rose to prominence playing vibraphone and marimba with Denny.  After Denny’s seminal work, Quiet Village, Lyman split from the group to do his own music.  This chaffed Denny on some level although the two remained professional about it.  Anyway, Lyman took the Exotica sound and made his styling of it even more flamboyant. He released more than 30 records and performed at various hotels, resorts and clubs, both on the islands and on the mainland.

Link to an earlier post on Denny with the origins of animal noises

This was Lyman’s second album but his first one in the field of exotica.  Released in 1958, this work put Lyman into the same club as Denny and Baxter.  Furthermore, Lyman takes the exotic instruments and animal noises from Denny’s group up a couple notches. Really great album. I could talk about it at length but since it is Saturday, I am going to be lazy and link up to someone else blog.

Ambient Exotica link on the album

For samples, man, did I have a hard time narrowing it down. While going over old songs from this blog, I noticed that Duke Ellington’s classic “Caravan” gets a lot of play. So why should I fight it? I also decided to go with the classic “Miserlou” which would become a big hit for Dick Dale and surf guitar.  Finally, I wanted to go with one of the more traditional exotica tracks.  After much back and forth, I went with “Sim Sim” although the title track was a close second.

Top rated album.

 

Bert Karmpfert- Sweet and Gentle

This was 80 cents.  I like a lot of Bert Kaempfert’s work and have featured his records on this blog before.  I also wrote a post about his early work with the Beatles.

On a side note, I saw La La Land this last weekend.  As far as musical movies go, it was really good.  The great parts were great.  The slow parts were slow.  The dance numbers were very good.  I thought there could have been more musical numbers and that maybe they could have been a bit better. Both Canadian Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone were great.  I am not sure if I did not like the ending or if I did not like the fact that it ended.  Eitherway, I liked the movie.  If I recall correctly, there was only one f-bomb and otherwise very clean film (no real adult situations) so you can take the family if they can stomach one f-bomb.

Keeping with this month’s theme of writing about my vacation, I found most of my days between 10am and 1pm were spent around Rembrandtplein.  It is a square off of Binneramstel by the Muntplein/ Flower Market and the Opera House/ Waterlooplein.  Rembrandt himself, lived close to the area.  The square is a touristy area with various coffee shops, bars, cafes, and restaurants.  It is still pretty touristy but not as bad as it is a few clicks north closer to Dam Square. I am kind of back and forth about staying here next trip as it kind of became ,my favorite spot to hang out.  The morning walk from Dam to the square is pretty cold and I like the places in Rembrandtplein during the day. However, I still like the places around Dam at night and I imagine walking back the opposite distance at night would be worse.  In the square, there is a statue of the Master himself, Rembrandt, which was made in 1876.  In 2012, they added statues to reflect his classic “Night Watchmen”.  One night when I was there, I believe they were filming something in the square.

As far as this record goes.  this was released by the Longines Symphonette Society.  Given its cheap price, I am guessing I did not take the trouble to pull out the record and check out the track list before purchase. It is mostly romantic tunes with tropical/ exotic overtones.  It is all right.  I have heard better works from Kaempfert. This was released in 1963.

For a sample, I was torn between “Tahitian Sunset” and “Free As A Bird”. I went with “Free As A Bird”, mainly because it was reminiscent of his work on Swinging Safari.

Meh.  Kaempfert has much better albums out there.