Sounds in Space

This 1958 demonstration record is something of stereophonic lore. Capitalizing on the space age pop theme of the time, RCA Victor took it upon themselves to showcase, complete with narration, the dramatic differences between the older, far-less superior monophonic, single-channel sound recording (this, of course, depends on who you ask), and the brand-spanking-new stereophonic technology. Sounds in Space is a wildly fun journey through these vastly-differing recording techniques, and if you’re a fan of classic, space age pop covers, this record is a no-brainer.

Murder, Inc.

Rustling beneath the cover of midnight shadows lives the crippling dangers of the unknown. Blood-stained wingtips disturb calm and reflective puddles, while silence strangles the throat of innocence with a conservative necktie. This is Murder, Inc.. 12 mischievous anthems of criminal intent and strong-armed justice tussling with the nicotine-stained hands of fate. This Series 2000 release from Time Records (1960) was composed and conducted by Irving Joseph, and makes for an alluring inner monologue soundtrack for those restless nights when stress and suspicion creep gingerly beneath your window. If Sam Spade owned a jazz club, Murder, Inc. would be served every Sunday morning… with a mimosa and a side of ham-and-cheese waffles.

Bahia

(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.

Music from Outer Space

I was a bit hesitant about this post as my overwhelming shame for not having owned Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock’s Music from Outer Space would be exposed. This kitchy novelty album from 1967 sits next in our office rotation, and is sure to please, if the cover is any indication. Tracks like A Visit to A Sad Planet, Beyond Antares, and of course Music to Watch Space Girls By should make for a rather interesting “easy listening” spin. My shame is now a distant shadow in a vibrant nebula of time and space.

File Under: Sumac – Female Vocal

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.

Music with Sound

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.

Ping-Pong

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.

Tamboo!

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.

Blast

Well, the time has come. We finally completing the “Ten Basic Space Age Pop Albums” according to Space Age Pop Music with Ferrante & Teicher’s 1958 offering, Blast Off! If pressed to say, Blast Off!, with its brilliantly campy cover aside, will likely get the least amount of spins when compared to the other classic albums on this custom checklist. I mean, it’s hard to compare Perez Prado’s Havana 3 A.M. or Les Baxter’s Ritual of the Savage with the experimental and ear-piercing Blast Off!, but that being said, the cover alone is worth the price of admission.

(Taboo) (Taboo)

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.

The Sound of Tomorrow Today! (Well, Sort Of)

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?!

Colorful Percussions

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.

Blues & Brass

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.

Yellow Bird

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.

Swingin’

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!”

Bagels and Bongos, Baby

Gah! For some reason, these posts aren’t showing up on time. I blame WordPress (user error).

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.

 

Sonic Workshop

Motion in Percussion, people! Get into the super-sonic-spaced-out-stereophonic sound with The Hollywood ‘Pops’ Symphony and their 1958 (or 1959) release, Motion in Percussion and Orchestra. Sonic Workshop (the label) does an “astounding” job of selling the visual experience with their stereophonic albums (of which there are only a handful). For all its scientific advances and groundbreaking recording techniques, it simply comes down to one fact: how damn good is the music? Motion in Percussion and Orchestra in no way disappoints, and is perfect party-pop fodder for even the casual SAP (Space Age Pop) listener. Highly recommended.