I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to purchase Yma Sumac’s Voice of the Xtabay, as a 12″ nonetheless! What the hell would have stopped ya’? You may ask. Well, Nosey Neil, I’d already been the proud owner of the original 10″, so my inner money-saver began prodding with “reasonable” questions… that was until I discovered that the 12″ not only contained all 8 tracks from the original 10″, but also all 8 tracks from 1953’s Inca Taqui. Pimped as A Capitol Records Value (sticker in top right corner), the clear and correct decision to obtain was swiftly and promptly applied. Let’s not forget that legendary Space Age Pop-per Les Baxter composed and produced Voices, so you pretty much know you’re getting quality music. The 12″ is a steal at any price, and comes highly recommended.
Time Records and their Series 2000 collection is a great partner (or competitor) to the early Command Record albums. This self-proclaimed “demonstration record” is a perfect introduction to the series and contains choice selects from Jim Tyler, Hugo Montenegro, Maury Laws, Al Caiola, and Kermit Leslie (among others). If you’re looking to expand your Space Age Pop chops (and who among you isn’t?), check out Music with Sound.
1961’s Ping Pong Percussion by Chuck Sagle and His Orchestra is branded as a jazzy, Space Age Pop-like competitor to the famed Persuasive Percussion series. I’ve found it to be a bit too dixieland, and less percussion-savvy as the glowing cover suggests. Still not a bad listen for $4, just two pennies over the original retail price.
Latin, jazz, pop, space-age, and easy listening are just a few terms to describe Les Baxter and His Chorus and Orchestra’s 1955 classic, Tamboo!. If songs like Cuchibamba, Zambezi, Mozambique, and Oasis of Dakhla aren’t enough for you, the mid-century exotic cover should do the trick. A deal at $2.99, a steal as a free gift. Thanks, choch.
Good things often come in pairs… socks, cocktails, pears, and as far as I’m concerned, exotic bird caws and mysterious xylophone melodies are no different. Presented here are Arthur Lyman’s 1958 smash Taboo, and his 1960 follow up, Taboo Vol. 2. The former had been sitting in the collection for three or so years, but the latter just showed up at our doorstep (he shudders in the attempts to contain his excitement). Now, I’m slowly beginning to realize that drunken bird calls aren’t necessarily for everyone (though I’m not entirely sure why), but both Taboo volumes do a phenomenal job of uplifting the listener to bygone nights of exotic, island bliss (think dirty feet, tiki torches, and a lot of rum). For you newbies, start with Taboo (obviously), and when you’re ready for that perfect paired compliment, hunt down Vol. 2. Like with all other space age pop albums, the exotic sounds of Arthur Lyman come highly recommended.
Though yesterday’s sound of tomorrow sounds more like yesterday’s sound of yesterday, Ferrante and Teicher’s 1956 out-of-this-world classic, Soundproof, is pure, space-age jazz, complete with 50’s sci-fi, invaders from other planets cover. Actually, the cover photo is taken from MGM Pictures’ 1956 staple, Forbidden Planet, for those keeping score. What gets me scratching my head is that Ferrante and Teicher also release an album the same year on the same label with the same tracks as SoundBlast – The Sound of Tomorrow, but with a different, non-Forbidden Planet cover. Those cats in the 50s, am I right?!
Arthur Lyman’s 1962 classic, The Colorful Percussions of Arthur Lyman, is a festive little listen that showcases, yet again, the many and varied talents of this Space Age Pop legend. Sandwiched between 1960’s Percussion Spectatular! (a reissued as Yellow Bird) and Many Moods of Arthur Lyman (also 1962), The Colorful Percussions of Arthur Lyman is as vivid and explosive as the title and cover art suggests. This, like with any Lyman album, comes highly recommended.
After the success of The Man with the Golden Arm (Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score), Mr. Bernstein ventured away from the silver screen and into the modest world of long play analog media storage. His first album is this 1956 release on Decca, Blues & Brass, which captures what the back sleeve describes as “city blues” throughout 12 dramatic and late-night-comforting tracks. If Mr. Bernstein’s film scoring career wasn’t as hugely successful as it was (he scored The Ten Commandments the same year as this album’s release, mind you), he could have easily notched out a Space Age Pop, lounge-infused, groove-based career as a successful studio musician. Find this album. You’ll thank me later.
Originally titled Percussion Spectacular!, Arthur Lyman’s 1961 “haunting melody” track, Yellow Bird, became a major hit, and Percussion Spectacular! would bow to its rereleased name, Yellow Bird. Whatever the hell you call it, L-1004 (catalog tag release name from HiFi Records) is another classic space age pop release by the master of ethereal delight, Mr. Arthur Lyman, and should be strongly considered for your next social gathering.
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.
Double your desire for Exotica with these (slightly) varying album covers from Denny Martin’s 1957 classic, Exotica (you remember… the album that spawned the genre, and subcategory to Space of Pop?! No?! Well, get with it, man!). Spectra Sonic Sound is not just a Nation of Ulysses track (as it turns out), and was apparently “the ultimate in High Fidelity” in the mid-to-late 1950s, or at least had legal rights to such a claim. With the same catalog number, I couldn’t tell you which version (left or right) came first, though I will say I find it hard to believe that one would consciously move away from the multi-color Spectra-Sonic-Sound logo on the bottom of the right version. Essential. Listening. Material.
Ahhh (sigh of relief). Another day, another early 60’s Space Age Pop album. Enoch Light? Check! High quality gatefold cover? Check! Command Records quality? Check! Groovy, minimalist album art? You bet’cha! Provocative Percussion Vol. III is probably my favorite so far, of those I own. Still missing Vol. II, then we’ll have all 8 volumes of both the Provocative and Persuasive Percussion series. Volume IV of Provocative currently rests on the wall of our kitchen after the wife knocked over the previous framed accent. She’s a fan of these volumes as well, so secretly, I think she wanted to display the album art. Who can blame her?!
I can’t rightfully imagine that many sealed copies of Arthur Lyman’s 1975 album, Puka Shells exist these days. Apart from it being the legend’s last studio album, Puka Shells also serves as an introduction to his talented daughter, Kapiolani Lyman. I’m torn between removing this virgin gem from its 42 year old crypt and keeping it preserved while I hunt down another to spin. The weight of this decision is a taxing one, and will take some time to figure out.