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.
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.