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.


Martin Denny- The Enchanted Sea

17500235712_5744b56e57_bWow.  Ending the month with an Exotica classic as well as ending what has been an easy week of post writing with an artist who is no stranger to this blog.  You know what that means- a short post.  Yay!! This was $2.00. It was previously owned by Hugh W Browne of Perdue Street in Dallas,

This was perhaps Martin Denny’s tenth album.  Released in 1960, it was at a point where Denny was still on top of his game in the Exotica movement.  It has all the Denny trademarks on it, including animal sounds and unusual instrumentation.  The songs also have a nautical theme/sound to them. Want a more in depth review? Check out the one below from  It is Saturday and that means I am doing even less work on this blog today.

Link to review

For a sample, I was really torn as there are so many good points here.  My favorite tracks include the title track,”Floatsom & Jetsam”, “Sentimental Journey” and my favorite from Bioshock, “Beyond The Sea”.18jprc1k4chw1png

After some debate and pondering on the issue, i decided to go with the title track, “The Enchanted Sea”, mainly because it has those trademark bird sounds.dscn5309-800x790

Top Rated album.  And what a way to end this months blog run.  Totally easy week.

OST- Flahooley

DSCN5118 (1017x1024)This was a upper end purchase of $5.00.  A friend of mine asked me why I had not posted any Yma Sumac.  Mainly because her stuff falls in the range of collectibles and not typically under $5.00. So when I found this, I jumped on it, despite knowing little about the production it came from.MTE5NDg0MDU1NDI1NDg0MzAz (1)

Yma Sumac (1922-2008), was a Peruvian queen of exotica music.  Known for her five octave voice, she appeared on radio and made records in Argentina before moving to New York City in 1946 where she performed with her husband.  She also made numerous records as well as concert appearances around the world. She started in a handful of movies, including Secret of the Incas, the film the inspired the Indiana Jones series.  Her work has also been featured in advertising as well as in movies, such as one I always like referencing, The Big Lebowski.  The song below was used in the trampoline scene at Jackie Treehorns.

A better bio on Sumac from her Website

There is a rumor that Sumac is actually one Amy Camus, a housewife from New Jersey.  I do not believe this as I feel there would be more conclusive evidence on the net at this point.

An article with a link to another article on the subject of Amy Camus

Which leads us to this production, Flahooley by E.Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy with music by Sammy Fain.  Harburg, who wrote several US standards as well as the songs for The Wizard of Oz, had recently found himself on the wrong end of House Un-American Activities Committee and as a result, blacklisted in Hollywood, despite not being a Communist.  Not a stranger to political satire as his work, Finian’s Rainbow shows, he wrote this play based on Joe McCarthy and the Communist witch hunt.  Adjustments were made and several references were toned down, but still, from what I am told, the play was still very relevant to the current political climate.


Entry on the Broadway  Database

As far as what I can piece together, the story focuses on a toy factory.  One inventor is about to reveal a talking doll to the company’s board of directors (in early scripts, the dolls said “Dirty Red” when turned around until Harburg toned that part down). A delegation of Saudis interrupt and ask the toy maker for help repairing their genie lamp.  It would seem if I am reading this right, that Saudi Arabia has run out of oil and need the genie to return to bring back prosperity.

Flahooley The CEO is charmed by the Arabian princess and gives the task to the inventor, who hopes to use the genie to become rich enough to marry his sweetheart.  However, the genie, who is unclear on capitalism, starts to give the talking dolls away, causing panic and a witch hunt.  I am not sure how it resolves. I do believe puppets and marionettes were used pretty extensively, however.

Flahooley premiered on Broadway on May 14, 1951 and closed a few months later after 40 performances.  Even though some parts were watered down, the theater going public at the time was not ready for anti-communist satire as both the Cold War and McCarthyism were in full swing. It should be noted that the original production marked the Broadway debut of Barbara Cook, best known for originating the role of Marion Peroo in The Music Man.  A revival production was done in the US in 1998.  Two productions were also done in London, one in 1997 and one in 2012 as seen below.


Getting back to Sumac, she landed the role of the Arabian princess and has three songs on the album.  They were all written by her husband, Moises Vivanco and all pretty much demonstrate her beautiful range.  As far as the rest of the album goes, it is ok.  There are some decent songs including ” Who Says There Ain’t No Santa Claus” and “Springtime Cometh”.

For a sample, I went with the opening number which was a pretty good poke at McCarthy’s stooges, “You Too Can Be A Puppet”. As far as Sumac’s songs go, after some thought and listening, I settled on “Najala’s Lament”.  I felt this best showed her range both high and low although I almost went with “Birds”.ymaaa

Despite the three songs by Sumac, this is really meh for me.  It seems like a lot to pick at for three Sumac tunes. Perhaps if I paid a dollar for this, my opinion would be different.


Les Baxter- I Could Have Danced All Night

DSCN4830 (800x797)This was all of one dollar.  This would be the second Les Baxter album I have posted.  Unbeknownst to me when I bought this, this is a Pickwick album, which in general, I hate.  However, it is based on previously released material and not the imitation material Pickwick is kind of known for.MI0002749948

Copies of this record go for anywhere between $3 and $15.  The record itself is in pretty good condition.  The cover is decent enough as well.

Les’ Webpage

This album is a collection of Baxter’s songs from what I am guessing was his 50’s material with Capital Records.  Baxter, a prolific composer and arranger, is one of the three founding fathers of exotica, but his influence goes beyond the genre.  The majority of these songs on this album, I would state do not fall into the exotica realm.  They are however, arranged in a beautiful manner.  DSCN4831 (800x787)

This album was released in 1966.  It contains many good songs including the title track, “Exodus”, “I Concentrate on You”, and “April in Portugal”.  Also included is the track that started the exotica movement, “Quiet Village”. All the songs off this album are good but theses, along with the sample, are what stuck out to me.

For a sample, I went with the French standard, “La Vie En Rose”, which I feel is done wonderfully by Baxter.quote-any-good-music-must-be-an-innovation-les-baxter-2-9-0955

Satisfactory album.


Martin Denny- Exotica Volume II

MI0001811003I can not remember if I paid the full $4.00 for this or if I got a discount.  Either way, I am not going to pass up a Martin Denny album.islandlife1a_b

Even if I was not ass-tired today, this is the fourth post I have done for Denny so there is not much more insight I can give into the guy.  And as mentioned, I am ass-tired.  What else is there to say. He admired Herbie Handcock, Chick Corea, and Dave Brubeck.  What else?  Apparently, he had the same girl on the cover of all his early albums.  She showed up to a couple shows afterwards and asked Denny if he recognized her.  He did not.  Anything else you want to know, feel free to use the blog’s Search function and go back to an earlier blog.

3587-CAR Denny3

This was Denny’s second album if you overlook the fact that he re-recorded Vol 1 for stereo with Julius Wechter replacing Arthur Lyman.  Recorded in June of 1957 and released in July of 1958,  this album continued the trademark exotica sound Denny first unleashed to the world on Vol 1.  It is indeed an excellent record of glittery, tropical lounge music.DSCN4549

For a sample, I went with the opening track, “Soshu Night Serenade” which has the trademark bird calls on it and lush effects.  I also included the Asian flavored “Rush Hour in Hong Kong”.dennyg

Top Rated Record.


Arthur Lyman- Cotton Fields

DSC_0115_5effafb9-bc61-4f58-91f3-3273292e17c8_largeHey, I am one year old today.  What started as posting pictures of records I purchased cheap on Facebook tuned into an outlet to channel time while I was between jobs which turned  into a labor of love and then for awhile, just a labor, but there is still enough love (or should I say enough records) for me to continue.  During this year, I have been exposed to a few albums, songs, and artists which have greatly changed how I feel about music. There has been a lot of crap as well.  And then mostly just middle ground that really appeals to no one. Kind of like this picture:Happy-Birthday-15

In celebration of the anniversary, I found a list of alternate names I had for the blog.  Can you guess where they came from?  Answers at the bottom of the page.

  1. Every Dragging Hand Clap

2. Bubba Zanetti

3. Pray for Mojo

4. Hot Ashes for Trees

5. Going Down the Sugar Tree

6. Tralala

7. Geek, Dweeb, or Spazz

arthur lyman

I picked a special record for this post, vibraphonist/ marimba player Arthur Lyman’s Cotton Fields.  There are three big figures in the world of Exotica; Martin Denny, Les Baxter, and Lyman.  Born in 1932 on the island of Oahu, Lyman got his start playing with Denny in the early days.  According to Lyman, it was he who originated the bird call sounds. Lyman would split to form his own band after the success of Denny’s Quiet Village.  Wikipedia says the two remained friendly rivals, but after hearing some interviews with Denny, I get the impression that he was a bit sore at first when Lyman left.  Lyman formed his own band taking the music a bit out a bit further than Denny. Lyman would pass in 2002.

Lyman Link

This album came out in 1963 and may have been his 13th.  It is pretty good.  The trademark bird calls are on some songs but not many.  The album does contain four of my favorite songs but I can only post two so sorry “Cotton Fields” and theme from “Walk on the Wild Side”.DSCN4252

Thus for samples, here is “Brazil” and “Hawaiian War Chant”.arthur lyman album cover

Top Rated album for sure. BTW, it was $3.00 at a record show.


Answers to quiz above:

  1. Lyric from the Clash’s “Death or Glory”

2. Blond haired, second in command villain in the original Mad Max movie. The hierarchy, I believe would be The Knight Rider, Toecutter, and then Bubba Zanetti. *(As a further side point,  I have always felt that Humungus from the second movie was a grizzled and jaded Fifi from the first.  Discuss.)

3. A quote from the Simpsons where Homer gets a helper monkey named Mojo.

4. Lyric from Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”.

5. A line from an awful poem written by John C. Reilly’s character in Boogie Nights.

6. A chapter based on an ill-fated character from H. Selby’s book, Last Exit to Brooklyn.

7. Name of a game show on Saturday Night Live during the Sandler/Spade era.  Emilio Estevez was the host of the episode.  Contestants were popular high school kids who would guess if their classmate was a geek, dweeb, or spazz.  David Spade played a spazz. It was swww-eeeeet.