Thursday, December 22, 2005

Space-Age music for the not-so-bachelor pad

I heard a very interesting rendition of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" on the radio this morning by a group called "Los Straightjackets". After Googling for their home page (http://www.straitjackets.com), I found I really like the music style! I asked my friend, Cam, if he'd heard of them and other Space-Age Bachelor Pad music. Here's his great recommendation:

If you're asking what I'm into lately or what is a good recommendation for S-ABM, I'd answer differently. To be honest, Esquivel is still the king and always will be in that genre.

Lately I've been into a couple of websites that post public domain records. Most of these are of that genre. There's also a lot that are more 'modern big-band' more along the style of Jackie Gleason or Herb Albert. Oh, and a LOT of Sergio Mendes. He's been hitting the spot just right.

If you're interested, check out:

For the top ten S-ABM picks:

1. Esquivel - He IS space-age. In fact, I think the whole genre name was invented because of him. No other artist will do in the space age bachelor pad. I imagine Esquivel lounging back with a martini while chatty it up with a girl in a go-go suit and classic Sean Connery while Jetson style space-cars fly by his window outside. I repeat, he IS space-age.

2. Sergio Mendes - He put 'Girl From Ipenema' on the map. What more can be said? While Esquivel introduced the genre, Sergio introduced the must have songs of the genre.

3. Roger Williams - Now this is a strange pick, and some may argue, but every good bachelor, space-aged or not, needs a moment of relaxation. Williams brought about 'Born Free' and the concept of waves and seagulls in the background of most of his tracks. If you must relax, either to his piano or guitar, Roger will lull you to another world.

4. Dean Martin - Just as Esquivel is to Space-Age, Dino is to Lounge. Lounge is the close twin brother to Space-Age, so it couldn't be overlooked in this list. The amazing thing is that Dino was the man that THE MAN, Frank, chose to listen to. It's said that Dean was actually one of the greatest singers as far as vocal skill and longevity, but because of life circumstances and the venues that the two men chose, Sinatra will be remembered as the easy listening king. But that's why Dean is the Lounge king.

5. Julie London - Sultry. That's the word. I can't explain her voice. She's equally sexy and maternal. You want her to sing you to sleep and you want her leading the latest red-hot band. She's incredible and her voice stood up over time taking her well into the 70's.

6. Nelson Riddle - Nelson's style is amazing. He is what you hear when you watch stylized action/adventure films from the '60's. That sound of swanky saxophone and what sounds like jungle music blends into something that fits only with Film Noir. It's part exotica mixed with part grungy New York. You can picture island girls dancing to it as well as imagining a lonely gumshoe lighting up a cig under Brooklyn bridge.

7. Les Baxter - Les and his orchestra INJECTED ultra-cool into the bachelor pad. I mean, this is the man that orchestrated Route '66. He is synonymous with muscle cars and the wind blowing through your hair as the Beach Boys are with surfing. He uses that jazzy trumpet mixed with a persistent cymbal rhythm that makes you want to don shades and talk like a hep-cat.

8. Billy May - Another close brother to Space Age is the Tiki. Tiki is the lounge scene of Las Vegas, only transplanted to a far away island. Tiki is about escapism. You listen to Tiki while drinking exotic sounding drinks with umbrellas in them. Now a lot of the men already discussed on this list dabbled in Tiki but one of the band leaders excelled at it. I dare say that the concept of Muzak came from Billy who took famous songs of the time and transplanted them in a cool samba version. He loved multiple trumpets and bizare rhythm instruments like sticks and bongos. He also had a strange love affair with the organ. If you can imagine a Polynesian native playing his people's music on an electric organ... that's Billy May.

9. Jackie Gleason - While better known for his acting and his 'Honeymooners' series, Jackie LOVED music and would have preferred to live his life in a night club. And it shows. His music is the stuff of champagne. And even more, his album covers are the artwork that inspired the exotica art that is classically associated with the music. You see, Jackie was also known for his women...

10. Ann Margaret - The thing about Ann Margaret is that she just had to pose and there was music. Her singing is the epitome of the seductive she-kitten motif. She's talented, but not the MOST talented. But you put her in a pink sweater and skin tight pants... FEVER! She was the perfect mascot of the genre and the first choice of any self respecting bachelor to share his pad with. Many of her songs have taken on mythic proportions over the years and I have seen few mixes where she isn't included.

The wonderful thing about this music is that at the time, everyone was doing it. It was the Rock'N'Roll of that time. And there wasn't mass marketing of bands either, so there are a LOT of people out there, a LOT of big bands, a LOT of singers... that are just waiting to be discovered again by the modern recording. If you read through the commentaries of most of the albums discussed on bellybongo you'll find that there were many recordings that were done in very small quantity and then only handed out to the area that the band's nightclub was in. So now with the Internet, there's a lot of artists that are starting to become big only because they're being heard for the first time in 60 some odd years. And they say that the electronic era is bringing about the death of music. :)

On top of this list is the 'ethnics'. In fact, I was hard pressed to include Tiki music into this list, but Tiki is so much a part of Space-Age. But aside from this, there was a huge Latin movement (Herb Albert), Hawaiian music, Polynesian music (that launched into the Tiki movement), and film scores (this was lead by Henry Mancini and the birth of a little ditty known as 'The Pink Panther')

Even though I'm not a bachelor, I think I'm hooked on this music style. I've been a fan of Herb Alpert since I started learning the trumpet back in 6th grade. Now I've got some additional choices to start listening to!

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1 comment:

Thrillville said...

The best from my collection of Crime Jazz, Exotica, Vintage Vocalists and Smooth Sounds of Seduction.

Find the LPs if you can in your nearest bargain bin, though some have been released on CD too. In any format, these albums are timeless,
the Sounds of Thrillville:

1. PETER GUNN (Original Soundtrack) Henry Mancini PETER GUNN (Original Soundtrack)
Henry Mancini – the ultimate cool private eye music

2. LONELYVILLE: THE NERVOUS BEAT Creed Taylor Orchestra LONELYVILLE: THE NERVOUS BEAT
Creed Taylor Orchestra – the greatest crime jazz album you’ve never heard

3. POLYNESIAN PARADISE Phil Moore Orchestra POLYNESIAN PARADISE
Phil Moore Orchestra – exotica favorites, exquisitely done

4. JUNGLE JAZZ Les Baxter JUNGLE JAZZ
Les Baxter – sexy sax, intoxicating instrumentals

5. FRANK SINATRA AND ANTONIO CARLOS JOBIM FRANCIS ALBERT SINATRA AND ANTONIO CARLOS JOBIM – the Latin lounge lizard’s soundtrack, Sinatra at his smoothest

6. SLEEP WARM Dean Martin SLEEP WARM
Dean Martin –lounge lullabies featuring Dino’s finest vocals over orchestra directed by The Chairman himself

7. HYPNOTIQUE Martin Denny HYPNOTIQUE
Martin Denny – sensuous, soothing and surreal

8. ABOUT THE BLUES Julie London ABOUT THE BLUES
Julie London – my favorite torch singer at her most sly, smoky and seductive

9. THE WILDEST! Louis Prima, Keely Smith, Sam Butera and the THE WILDEST!
Louis Prima, Keely Smith, Sam Butera and the Witnesses – premiere collection from Vegas’s coolest lounge act, the heppest cats and kitten ever, man

10. SPACE AGE BACHELOR PAD MUSIC (Compilation) Esquivel SPACE AGE BACHELOR PAD MUSIC (Compilation)
Esquivel – the album that launched the Lounge Revival of the 90s, still the Atomic Bomb of Sonic Swingdom

11. THAT’S ALL Bobby Darin THAT’S ALL
Bobby Darin – one of the swingin’est LPs ever featuring two of Bobby’s biggest hits, “Mack the Knife” and “Beyond the Sea”

12. VOODOO Robert Drasnin VOODOO
Robert Drasnin – moody moonlight melodies

13. 4:35 EXOTICA Ted Auletta and his Orchestra 4:35 EXOTICA
Ted Auletta and his Orchestra – Polynesian Pop at its purest

14. MMM…NICE Bob Thompson MMM…NICE
Bob Thompson – the best from a genius pioneer of Space Age Pop

15. LONESOME ECHO Jackie Gleason LONESOME ECHO
Jackie Gleason – romantic and rich, lush and lively make-out music

16. SAMMY DAVIS JR. AT THE COCOANUT GROVE (Live) SAMMY DAVIS JR. AT THE COCOANUT GROVE (Live) – the most talented, versatile performer of our time captured at his peak

17. A TOUCH OF TABASCO Rosemary Clooney with Perez Prado A TOUCH OF TABASCO
Rosemary Clooney with Perez Prado – Cubano Cha-Cha Mambo Magnifico

18. INTRODUCING LINDA LAWSON, Linda Lawson INTRODUCING LINDA LAWSON
Linda Lawson – unsung cocktail classic by a sultry siren and good friend

19. MUSIC TO READ JAMES BOND BY, Various Artists MUSIC TO READ JAMES BOND
Various Artists – vibrant variations of 007’s theme music

20. SHE’S A LADY Tom Jones She's A LADY
Tom Jones – Lounge's Largest Lungs cut loose, 70s style - caution: may cause spontaneous conception….

21. WHIPPED CREAM & OTHER DELIGHTS WHIPPED CREAM & OTHER DELIGHTS
Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass - this is pretty much everyone's favorite lounge album, not only because of the content, including Herb's signature tune "A Taste of Honey," but most likely due to what is probably the sexiest album cover of all time

22. THE LEGEND OF PELE THE LEGEND OF PELE
Arthur Lyman - volcano melodies and tropical goddess music from the master of the Mai Tai mood

23. STACCATO STACCATO (Original Soundtrack)
Elmer Bernstein - rivals Mancini's "Peter Gunn" as the definitive TV PI score, bold and brassy but smooth and suave, just like John Cassavettes in the title role as the beatnik musician gumshoe

24. JUN'GALA JUN'GALA
Marty Wilson and His Orchestra - exciting exotica, a sonic safari for the soul

25. VOODOO! VOODOO!
Richard Hayman and His Orchestra - not to be confused with Robert Drasnin's album of the same title, this is a sultry, steamy cauldron of zombie tunes that'll liven up any undead shindig...