Themes for African Drums sounds exactly like one would imagine by one, the title, and two, the striking cover. So I’ll admit, it was in fact this forceful cover art coupled with year of release (1959) that prompted my immediate attention on money, but what I found was that the music within requires more than just a few modestly casual spins. Rhythm and horns, kids… rhythm and horns. The Guy Warren Sounds would release only one other record throughout their career, a French 7″ featuring two of this albums’ tracks, Waltzing Drums and Blood Brothers. Now, I can understandably see how this collection of 8 tracks could be considered a novelty, or theme record, but I speak from experience when I say, this makes for some damn good dinner music.
This cover… am I right?! Lovely lady on the left is 17 shades of excited, what, with her cocktail glass full of lukewarm tap water, and Sterling McSternsersons on the right is paying attention to absolutely ANYTHING but the jovial woman directly in front of him. Follow the eye lines, follow the drama!
So, as it turns out, the lesser-known Hugo Winterhalter was an arranger for such household names as Tommy Dorsey and Count Basie back in the 1930s before branching out into his own easy listening jazz career. This 1959 album, Hugo Winterhalter Goes… Latin features 12 tracks of Latin fury, and owns classic, mid-century cover art. With RCA Victor’s Living Stereo, you’re sure to experience Isabel’s Dream and Ectasy Tango in high quality fidelity.
(Sigh) Yes, another Arthur Lyman album post. Don’t call it an obsession… call it a fixation of grand proportions. Bahia was one of Lyman’s six (yes, six!) releases from 1959. (Have a look at his discography at Discogs for the details.) Though “more of the same” could be argued, early Lyman records saw more of an adventurous approach from this esteemed island God. Honestly, and this is what I did, if you dig this type of Pacific Space Age Pop, you could nab up the bulk of Lyman’s studio releases for dirt-damn cheap. I’m talking like, $4 a pop if you’re looking in the proper corners. This fixation, I’m sure, will reach its pinnacle, but until then, it’s nothing but exotic bird calls and vibraphone grooves for this coconut-cocktail-sipper.
Vibraphone wizard Arthur Lyman brings his tropical island virtuosity to the smoke-filled cocktail lounge of yesteryear on this nightclub jazz classic, Leis of Jazz. A two drink minimum is the only prerequisite for this dozen of spinnable goodies, featuring The Lady is a Tramp and Lullaby of the Leaves, to name only a few highlights. A little less island and a lot more lounge, Leis of Jazz is a welcoming departure from the rest of Lyman’s esteemed catalog. Mix up another round, spin, and enjoy.
Oh, what wondrous adventures await within the mysterious and elegant Fire & Spice by Los Chavales de Espana. I picked up this amazing piece of Hi-Fi Fiesta for a cool $1 over the weekend, and am eagerly anticipating the marvelous exploits that lay within this striking cover. If you’ve ever wondered what a visual interpretation of fire and spice could be, look no further.
Howl, one of the only poems I’d read aloud to my wife, was just rereleased on vinyl by Modern Silence. Limited to 500 numbered copies (this is #297), I had to challenge international shipping (and timing) to secure this essential Allen Ginsberg release. With originals from 1959 going for well over $100, this red vinyl record was a steal for $30. Last week was Burroughs, and today it’s Ginsberg. Closing out this God-awful 2017 in epic style!
Another day, yet another Johnny Cash acquisition. This one, Songs of Our Soil, comes all the way from 1959. Look how young he is! Anyway, we’ve been slicing a sizable chunk out of our needed J.R. Cash discography lately, so this weekend, we’re going to try and keep that train a’rollin! (Heading to an old stomping ground for some cheap, quality, used records.) Wish us luck!
The last in the Exotica series, Vol. III, released in 1959 on Liberty Records, closes out a decade of fantastic space age pop excitement. Sure, Mr. Denny would go on to release other “Exotica” flavored releases with Exotica Today (1966), Exotica Classica (1967), and Exotica ’90 (1990), but Vol. III closed the book on this must-have, three LP series.
Look. I know I just posted about this record, but I’m ACTUALLY spinning it and, let me say, it greatly surpasses the hype! Pianos, bongos, and, wait… where is my damn bagel?! Irving Fields Trio, you’ve outdone yourselves! (1959, kids.)
Skip Martin conducts the Hollywood Symphony and All-Star Jazz Band in this amazing amalgam of string and horn-laced space age pop eruption titled, Swingin’ with Prince Igor. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the sound of 1959. With cocktails raised, in a room dank with the stale smell of burrowed tobacco smoke, Swingin’ is sure to please. But don’t take my word for it. Here is an excerpt from my wife’s glowing review: “Oh, I like THIS!”
I’ll most certainly revisit this album for a much more in-depth analysis (and will likely use the same photo), but for now, I’m excited for my newest Space Age Pop acquisition: Irving Fields Trio’s 1959 classic, Bagels and Bongos. Haven’t spun it yet, but this cover is something dreams and offspring are made of. Bagels sold separately.
We expanded the Martin Denny collection this weekend, tripled it actually, with the help of his 1959 album, Quiet Village – The Exotic Sounds of Martin Denny. Passed up Volume III of Exotica (stupidly), but managed to secure another 1959 classic of Mr. Denny’s, Afro-Desia. I don’t know what the hell was going on in the late 50s, early 60s, but things are getting out of control in a hurry!
Released in 1959 (a pattern… it’s beginning to develop!), Terry Snyder and the All Stars (with production and direction from label owner, Enoch Light) released volume 2 in a four volume series titled, Persuasive Percussion. Surprise, surprise, Space Age Pop a plenty on this series, and v2 was my first acquisition from the bunch. Had for a cool $0.92 (yes, that’s correct), Persuasive Percussion Volume 2 has gotten heavy play since the recent monetary transaction, and comes highly, no, intergalactic-ly recommended.
The carousel of Space Age Pop continues to spin over here at The Prudent Groove. Next up, 1959’s The Legend of Pele from Arthur Lyman. “More birds?” asks my wife as the first tracks spins. Bird sounds were (apparently) a big thing in the late 1950s. Exotic sounds (and covers) of just about every kind were big just before the boom of the sonic British Invasion. This era, and this uncategorizable genre (Space Age Pop is a modern term) is a whirlwind of toe-tapping, bird chirping grooves that screams for unforgotten attention, that which it is currently, and diligently receiving from our cabinet hi-fi.
It’s Saturday, and time for Cha Cha. I’m sorry, didn’t you know? Nevertheless, the glorious weekend is here, which is celebration enough for dancing. I Want to Be Happy Cha Cha’s by Enoch Light and the Light Brigade (gee that sounds great) offer a spectacular blister-popping dance party with this, their magnificent 1959 album. Enjoy your weekend, kids!
Hugo Winterhalter Goes… Latin, and we here are thankful that he did, since, as far as I can recollect, we can all benefit from this throwaway, yet strikingly beautiful 1959 design layout nonchalantly strewn across his majestic cover… or some type shit. You, my friend, exist, within “Living Stereo.” Manufactured in 1958, the Living Stereo logo is both synonymous with quality, and visual brilliance… not to mention it’s 58 years old. Respect the history of graphic design, kids.
Arthur Lyman just made my list of musically most wanted. His otherworldly album covers from the late 50s are something heavily deserving of frameable art, while his music carries a luscious, easy listening, space-age brilliance rarely found in today’s dollar bin. Hawaiian Sunset, released in 1959, was the followup to his 1958 debut Taboo, another captivating package necessary for any cocktail lounger on a budget. His album covers start to tame-out in the early 60s, but man, these late 50s covers are something of sheer, cheeky brilliance!
Stereo Exciting Sounds from Romantic Places… wait, or is it, Exciting from Romantic Stereo Sounds Places? Likely, it’s Exciting Stereo Sounds from Romantic Places with Leo Diamond’s Orchestra. Whichever way the mischievous title unfolds, Leo Diamond kills this 1959 easy listening LP. From cover to groove, this hi-fidelity ear-grabber sets both the mind, and body at ease. Listen with caution, if you dig.
The first compilation / greatest hits album Johnny Cash released (or rather, the label released for him) was 1959’s appropriately titled, Greatest! 12 cuts, all from the Sun Records library, Greatest! is a breath of fresh, country air even 56 years after its initial release. I have no idea what LPs sold for back in 1959, but this one set me back only $3 just last weekend. Inflation be damned, am I right? Anyway, Greatest! contains some classic, early Cash greats such as Get Rhythm, Luther’s Boogie, a few Hank Williams numbers (Hey, Good Lookin’, You Win Again), and some lesser known classics to round out a full, pertinent collection of tragic songs. Greatest! may not be Cash’s greatest, but it’s worth seeking out.