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.

The King Sisters-Aloha

DSCN4544This was $2.40.  I thought I got it recently, that is to say within the last two months, but looking at the price tag, I must have gotten this on Labor Day.  I still have a bunch of records from last year’s Memorial Day that I still have not posted yet.  I am really not buying any new albums these days until I clear a good chunk of my backlog out, which I have not done as of yet.  Anyway, I got this one for the Hawaiian music .CNbZrR3UkAAtzc0

As another side note, this was from Moses Melody Shop on 3958 Westheimer which I assume has long closed down.  The first shop was in Little Rock, Arkansas and known as the”Hippest Record Shop” in town.  It was opened by Cleve Moses shortly after World War I.  His sons, Cleve JR and James ran it after Cleve Sr’s death.  Additionally, Cleve Jr moved to Houston after WW II and opened shop here.   Note that the picture above is from the Little Rock Store.King-Sisters-Mormon

The King Sisters were a popular vocal group of the 1930’s and 1940’s.  Born and raised in Pleasant Grove, Utah, where they were most likely Mormen, the sisters were part of their family band before making it on their own in radio, in big bands, and then in movies.  They also had a variety program on the TV for a while in the mid 60’s.  Six sisters have performed throughout various incarnations but from what I can tell the sisters started as a trio of Maxine, Luise, and Alyce. Donna, and Yvonne joined when Maxine retired to raise a family.   The line up on this album consists of Marilyn, Luise, Alyce, and Yvonne. They are all dead now, the last one, Marylyn,  passing on in 2013.King_sisters_1964

The King Sister’s Webpage

As stated on the cover, this album features music by slide guitar virtuoso, Alvino Rey.  Luise had married Rey in 1927 and remained so until her death.  If you have been reading this blog regularly, you may recall that Rey and Luise’s grandchildren are Win and William Butler of Arcade Fire.

The Sisters with Rey

Anyway, this album is full of good work from both Rey and the sisters.  Released in 1957,it is what you would expect.  There is a bunch of slack/ slide guitar parts and big band style vocals given to Hawaiian standards.  I was kind of thinking I would yawn throughout this album but I was actually quite amused.  Highlights include, “My Little Grass Shackin Kealakekua” and “On the Beach at Waikiki”.DSCN4545

For a sample, I went with the old favorite of mine “Hawaiian War Chant”.  After some thought on the drive home from work, I decided to throw in “On The Beach At Waikiki” as well.last-photo-bgr

Satisfactory 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.


George Cates- Polynesian Percussion

DSCN3666This was 80 cents.  In some aspects, it looked exotic enough.  However, the fact that this is presented by Lawrence Welk should tell you something and that something is not that good.GeorgeCates

Professor Weird Beard above, George Cates (1911-2002) was an arranger, conductor, song writer, and record executive. Besides working with many prolific band leaders and singers, he served as Lawrence Welk’s musical director from 1951 to 1971 I believe.  Do not quote me on that.  He would die of heart failure at the age of 90.

Cates’ Spaceage Pop Page


Interesting enough, his brother and law, Alvino Rey plays steel guitar on this album.  Rey was a swing/big band musician who helped produced the early pickups for the first Gibson electric guitar , the ES-130.  He also is credited as the father of the pedal steel guitar.  Around the time of this record, Rey had moved away from big band and into exotica working with Cates and Esquivel among others.  Oddly enough, his daughter is the mother of Win and Will Butler of Arcade Fire.  Their first album, Funeral was heavily influenced by Rey’s passing, which was in 2004 at the age 0f 95.

Spaceage Pop Page on Rey

This album is ok. It came out in 1961. There is a lot of interesting instruments on it.  Besides Rey’s steel guitar, the album features Buddy Cole on the Novachord and George Wyle on the Celeste. It also features such exotic percussion as the Uli Uli, the Kalaau, The Pu Ili, and the Boo-bams.  It also features Bells, Vibes, Xylophones, Maraimbas, Gurios, and Maracas among others.  The songs tend to sound pretty similar.  Likewise, there is nothing that really bites for me on this.  It is what I would figure a Lawrence Welk exotica album would sound like.DSCN3667

If I had to choose one, which I do, I would choose “The Hawaiian Wedding Song”, which I did.

Meh. There are much better exotica albums out there.  The range of instruments keeps it interesting but it kind of sound similar after a while.



Annette- Hawaiiannette

DSCN2393This was $5.00. I got it at the August Infinity Record Convention at the SW Hilton.


I know it has been discussed in detail in other forums, but notice how modest Annette Funicello (1942-2013) is on the cover. On one picture, she is even wearing a Muu Muu. It is well known that Walt Disney wanted to preserve the pure image, asking her not to expose her navel in her beach movies and such. Compare this to the fact that I have seen Brittney Spears’ privates. How times have changed.



This is a fun album of Annette singing Hawaiian songs. The songs on this album range from traditional to new songs written by the Sherman Brothers. Highlights include the title track, “Blue Hawaii”, “Date Night in Hawaii”, “ Blue Muu Muu”, and “Aloha Oe”. The album was released in 1960 and it produced one of Annette’s best singles, “Pineapple Princess” which charted at # 11. The album itself charted at # 38. From what I can tell, it was her third album.


For a sample, I went with the Sherman Brother’s “Pineapple Princess” and the standard “My Little Grass Shack”.

A photo session featuring Annette Funicello from the set of the made-for TV movie, A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes: The Annette Funicello Story. Image dated September 4, 1995. Copyright © 1995 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Credit: CBS Photo Archive.

This is a pretty fun record. I am going to give it a Top Rating.


Enoch Light- Far Away Places

DSCN0889This was 80 cents.  I always jump on Command Records.

This record was done by Enoch Light and his usual band of studio wizards.  It is supposed to be a collection of travel tunes.  Despite the cover, it is in reality light on what I call “Exotic Percussion”(or perhaps subtle is a better word)  .  It is however, heavy on the harpsichord.  Ah, an elementary music teacher’s dream.  The song selection is not that great.  Focusing on places such as Australia, Vienna, Ireland, Portugal, and Paris over more tropical places really handicapped the exotic factor.  There are , however, some good tunes on this and the musicianship of the players as well as the conducting of Light are all here.


DSCN0890For a sample,  I went with the Hawaiian tune, “The Cockeyed Mayor of Kaunakakai”.

Meh.  Lot of Meh this week.  Oh well, maybe next week will improve.