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.
So, I’ll admit that I had to look this up, and from what I retained, here goes. (Clears throat) 35mm, when referring to audio / sound recording, was a technique championed (in the music recording world) by Enoch Light and Command Records (Mr. Light’s label). Feature films of the time were using 35mm for their film prints, and when stereophonic and widescreen advances became the popular buzz around Hollywood, Mr. Light utilized this technique to record his Space Age Pop, which, if I’m understanding this correctly, allowed for more instruments / artists to be recorded individually due to the wider, 35mm film. Magnetic sound recording had been the norm at the time, but 35mm offered much more range, which Mr. Light wisely capitalized upon. Anyway, pretty much any Command Record release from the time will diligently detail this unique and groundbreaking recording process, and I encourage you to discover the magnificent (and magnetic) wonders of 35mm sound.
I’ve taken to listening to records in the morning, now. To hell with exercising and the healthy lifestyle that comes with it, am I right?! More on that at another time. INSTEAD, let’s travel to Far Away Places Volume 2 by Mr. Enoch Light and His Orchestra. This 1963 Command Records release reinvents some distinguished classics with the sensible sophistication only this master of Space Age Pop can manage. Some cuts include, but are not limited to: Istanbul (yes, that one), Flying Down to Rio, Colonel Bogey, The White Cliffs of Dover, and The Moon of Manakoora. I (stupidly) hesitated to secure this release as I knew it would require the hunting and bagging of its sister, Volume 1. Fair enough. Challenge accepted.
Don’t take my word for it (no, please don’t. I’m still wrapping my head around this “astonishing new achievement in stereo recording.”) Ladies and gentlemen, taken straight from the inner sleeve of Enoch Light and the Light Brigade’s 1964 classic, Dimension – 3 – .
Remember when you first discovered stereo recording? Remember the excitement of finding that a single groove on a record could actually carry two separate channels of sound? Remember the revelation that the solid mass of sound which was what you were accustomed to in phonographic reproduction could actually have directional values? And that this sense of direction could also provide a sense of perspective and depth? What a tremendous change this made in the pleasures and excitement that could be provided by a phonograph! Suddenly you were in a completely different world of sound! Remember? You can experience that same sense of discovery again.
Dimension – 3 – is one of the most unusual records that has ever been made. On it you hear for the first time the perfection and an extra dimension in stereo reproduction that engineers have been striving for ever since stereophonic recording was introduced.
Dimension – 3 – the amazing new recording technique revealed on this disc, makes it possible to achieve triple presence in sound reproduction! This means that you actually hear sound coming from three sources – even though you are only using the customary two speakers!
(Truncated… for more on the mysterious and marvelous Dimension – 3 – sound, check your local record retailer, or visit us again at The Prudent Groove.)
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!
1959-1961 were very busy years for Command Records, and its owner / originator and record producer Enoch Light. Releasing all four volumes of Persuasive Percussion within this time, as well as Volumes 1 – 3 of Provocative Percussion (Volume 4 came out in 1962), the label, and mastermind Mr. Light, damn-near defined the Space Age Pop sound, while offered amazing, minimalist album covers in the process. If you’ve ever wanted to fill your bachelor pad with the persuasive and provocative sounds of Space Age Pop, we strongly recommend either (both) of these collections.
Havana, 3 A.M. is another fundamental and necessary Space Age Pop album from the late 1950s / early 1960s, or so spaceagepop.com would have you believe from their 10 Basic SAP Albums, my current checklist. This Afro-Cuban collection, a “New Orthophonic” High Fidelity Recording, spans 12 Mambo-tastic tracks and is sure to get you on (or off) your feet, regardless of the time of day. Havana, 3 A.M. was Perez Prado and His Orchestra’s fifth album, released in 1956 on RCA Victor (LPM-1257), and is a perfect place for any up-and-coming Space Age Pop-stronaut to start. Happy hunting, kids.
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.
I don’t know much of Bushkin outside of his 1958 album, I Get a Kick Out of Porter, and what little I know about him I learned from the back album jacket. Aside from being an acclaimed songwriter and composer, apparently he was an avid jet flyer as well. One could gather as much from the cover photo, but one can also chalk this late 50s album up to “heavy cheese” or, at least that’s was my thought when I picked it up at the local record shop a few days ago. Ok, now to the music. I Get a Kick Out of Porter is energetic, late 50s jazz piano. Sophisticated, but not violent. Like with many other late 50’s jazz-fused Space Age Pop, it’s perfect living room music for evenings with a loved one. I bought it for the cover, but I’ll keep it for the vigor.
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!
It’s Thursday, which means, it’s hot-damn time for Exotica. Martin Denny and his space-age, late 50s collection of easy listening goodness comes at the perfect, unexpected, stress-relieving moment. The looming stress cloud is swiftly approaching, so let’s ease into flu season with some well earned, Exotica.
Apart from the overpriced exclusives, Record Store Day (aka this past Saturday) affords the lucrative opportunity for local brick and mortars to unload their less popular inventory at ridiculous prices. Take for example, this copy of Around the World by Guadalajara Brass. Already a steal at $0.92, she was welcomed into the (family) collection for a cool $0.31, along with a slew of other lesser known, bottom of the crate gems.
Space age instrumental pop launched from the capital of the Free and Sovereign State of Jalisco, Guadalajara Brass offers that unimposing and subtly cheerful sensation, much like you’d find after the bottom of your second rye Manhattan. Tackling internationally fashionable music from Italy to Israel, and from Africa to Japan, Guadalajara Brass proposes a quiet, soothing soundtrack perfect for your next bachelor pad-themed casual dinner party. I’m a sucker for hip-shaking, foot-tapping, international grooves of the instrumental nature. Around the World comes highly recommended.
While finishing up yet another spin of 1961’s Viva Cugat! by Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra, and immediately before launching a Taiwanese bootleg of The Best of Frankie Lane, I felt inclined to gander upon the heavily worded inner sleeve to the vivacious Viva Cugat! For reasons that are not entirely clear, Hal Mooney, Mercury Recording Director, made sure to include diagrams to the band arrangement for the three differing recording sessions (spanning three days) used to create this exciting Airport Lounge album. (I’m now using the term Airport Lounge when referring to late 50s, early 60s easy listening lounge of an international nature.)
I’ve been heavily into the space age pop, easy listening, cool lounge vibe lately. I’m not entirely sure why this particular genre is monopolizing my ear, but Viva Cugat! is certainly a welcoming addition, which has yielded multiple spins within the past week. Stick with what’cha dig, I suppose. On a side note, I just learned that the plural for cello is celli, so, that’s something.