Saturday, June 24, 2006

Les Baxter - Ritual of the Savage

Les Baxter, Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman are the Holy Trinity of Exotica.

I wanted to bring this one back to the top because I saw that it had very few downloads. As best I can figure, it was largely ignored at that time because A) I didn't post a pic of the cover, B) I neglected to post a pic of the cover and C) there was no pic of the cover.

I've noticed that most of the early posts, where I didn't include a pic of the cover, sadly did not get all that much love.

THIS is the record that really started the whole Exotica thing. Even though Les never really got all that much into the bird calls and the special effects, He is still The Father of Exotica and this, RIGHT HERE, is where it all started.

A huge chunk of the Baxter catalog has been re-issued on CD, but for some inexplicable reason "Ritual of the Savage" has not been re-issued.

Its an older rip of mine but a pretty good one.

Exotica Primus

Arthur Lyman - At The Crescendo


If Les is "The Father" and Martin is "The Son" then Arthur is "The Holy Ghost" of Exotica. I guess. Actually I'm just blabbering on semi-coherently and hope not to offend.

This one is ostensibly a true restaurant record but looking into it further leaves me in doubt. On the liner notes it states: "For the first time the exotic sounds of Arthur Lyman are recorded "live" as they appeared "in person" in one of their regular engagemenst at the Crescendo on the world-renowned Sunset Strip in Hollywood."

But then further on it says: "The applause was later deleted to preserve the exotic mood!"

Yeah, right.

Anyhow its a good recording of a mix of exotica and contemporary hits. Arthur rarely recorded an LP of just exotica, he always threw in few standards like (in this case) "Days of Wine and Roses" and "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue."

There's a good amount of surface noise on this one. Not for playing in the Bentley. Better play this one in the Viper. With the top down. "Cindy Oh Cindy" (which sounds a lot like "Yellow Bird") has the most noise. The others are not as bad.

Don't download my version, see comments.

Martin Denny - From Maui with Love

The last of our triptych is Martin Denny's From Maui with Love. This one you can play in the Bentley, in fact, its perfect for it.

Most of this LP is just Martin and his piano. Tracks 7-10 (including Quiet Village) have Martin accompanied by drums and string bass. Released in 1980, this is almost a restaurant record as the album was recorded to "celebrate his current engagement at the Wailea Beach Hotel," and Martin included a song that he wrote ("Raffles'") that "takes its name from the beautiful gourmet restaurant where he performs to the listening delight of its diners and his many fans."

No bird calls on this one. Just THE MAN and his piano.

From Maui with Love

Featured Drink: Humuhumunukunukuapuaa

From the Hawaii Kai Cookbook. This one's for those with a bit of a sweet tooth. This drink has enough calories to get you through an entire weekend. A weekend of running marathons.

FYI: to make honey cream, heat separately one part sweet butter and one part honey. Don't let either come to a boil. Pour together in a bowl and whisk until fully blended. Voila!

From the book:


(Hum Hum for short.) Intrepid ones love this innocent-looking concoction of coconut milk and gin whipped into a frenzy, then enhanced with the nectars of the romantic Island fruits.

1 ounce orange juice
1 ounce honey cream
1/2 ounce heavy cream
1 ounce dry gin
1 ounce white rum
1/2 ounce coconut milk

Pour ingredients over 1/2 cup shaved ice and blend. Pour into 10-ounce footed highball glass. Garnish with a half a slice of orange, pineapple spear on pick with green and red cherries stuck on end of spear, 8-inch candy-striped straw, parasol open and in straw end.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Les Baxter - Bora Bora

Soundtrack to a 1968 Italian film that apparently very few people have seen or even heard of. Its Les so you know its good. I always thought this was recorded and released in the early 70s so I'm slightly surprised it came out in '68. It just has that early 70s sound and I can easily imagine this music on the soundtrack to Hawaii Five-O. So if you dig that 5-O sound then you should really dig this.

Bora Bora

The Islanders - The Enchanted Sound of The Islanders

This is one of the unsung classic exotica albums. The Islanders are probably just the two producers, Frank Metis and Randy Starr, with maybe a little help from session musicians (and "Special Sound Effects: Ralph F. Curtiss"). Released ca 1958. The great thing about this LP is that it sort of bridges the genres of surf and exotica with its liberal dose of surf ballad style electric guitar. The only thing is (and I'm by no means a surf music expert) if it came out around 1958, doesn't it predate classic surf music by two or three years? Anyway, most of these songs sit right at home on either surf mixes or exotica mixes no problemo.

I wanted to try and dupe you all into thinking I'm smart and somewhat knowledgable about this music so, of course, I did a quick google search and did not find all that much. I found a couple of references about Frank Metis (wrote "Kissin' Cousins" for Elvis) and also that this album is at least somewhat rare ("rare as hens teeth" one forum entry said). I checked ebay and there are quite a few 45s from this LP on right now but no copies of the album itself. So maybe it is rare and that's all the more reason to download it.

Plus it's KILLER CLASSIC exotica. Some of the original Metis-Starr songs on this LP that were later covered by the more well known exotica masters include: Tramp Steamer, The Enchanted Sea, Kon-Tiki and City Under the Sea.

Once again, I wish I had a cleaner copy. The rip is fair, quite a bit better than the Webley Edwards below, but not as good as I'd like. It sounds fair under headphones but just fine in my truck with all the ambient noise covering the imperfections. So get yourself a truck and listen to The Enchanted Sound of The Islanders.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Kana Kapiolani & his Hawaiians - Songs of the Islands

This rip is as clean and sweet as the last one was rough. Gorgeous semi-trad instrumentals featuring steel guitar and a little uke. Perfect for your next luau.

I know most of you prefer the exotica over the Polynesian (the downloads for exotica are approximately double than those for the Hawaiian stuff) but you should check this one out. Crisp and clean and "Aloha Oe" is especially nice.

Songs of the Islands

Webley Edwards presents Hawaii Calls: Soft Hawaiian Guitars

I decided to delete this post because the quality of the rip is not acceptable. I'll find another cleaner copy soon enough and re-rip this LP.

Again...if YOU have a good quality rip of this album feel free to post a link in the comments!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Martin Denny - Hawaii

Martin Denny plays the theme from the United Artists motion picture Hawaii. One of the few Denny LPs not released on CD.

Several good tracks. "Oro (God of Vengeance)" is killer exotica but has been released on a few compilations so you may already have it.

Martin Denny/Hawaii

Featured drink: King Kamehameha

From the Hawaii Kai Cookbook. Nice and juicy without all that damn citrus. Very tasty drink.

From the book:

King Ka-Meha-Meha

His royal sins are rolled into this devilish mixture of brandy laced with gin.

1 ounce passion fruit nectar
1 ounce pineapple juice
1/4 ounce triple sec
3/4 ounce dry gin
3/4 ounce brandy

Blend all ingredients over 1/4 cup shaved ice. Pour into 7-ounce highball glass. Garnish with slice of orange, red cherry, 6-inch candy-striped straw with paper parasol inserted.

The Voices of the Atolls and The Zizou Bar Trio - Ta'u Tahiti

Or Mon Tahiti in French. Funny thing about this LP, everything is in French or Tahitian except the song titles which are in Tahitian with the English translation following in parentheses. Odd.

From 1957, one of many LPs on the Tiare Tahiti Records label that mixed trad Tahitian music with a slightly franco-jazzy lounge feel. As far as I'm concerned Drums of Bora Bora, Songs of Tahiti was the best of the bunch, and the reason The Voices of the Atolls will forever have a special place in my Polynesian musical pantheon. Their song "E Hina," from that LP is probably my favorite Polypop tune of all time. I'd be glad to share Drums of Bora Bora here but for the fact that it's been released on CD (look on Amazon) and thus it would be a no-no to share.

Not all of this album is great but there are a few jewels: check out track 1 "Pinol (Tahitian Love Call)", track 9 "Tarevereva (Crest of the Wave)" and track 12 "Haapou Mai Na (Tahitian Love Song).

The label says that its recorded in "stereo simulation." As far as I can tell, that means one channel is a little bit louder than the other.

Mon Tahiti

BONUS! An LP rip of my favorite Atolls song "E Hina" from the LP version of Drums of Bora Bora. It kicks okole!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Don Ho - East Coast/West Coast

Man, I love Don Ho! As far as I'm concerned, on The Islands he is THE MAN. I got to see him perform his act about three years ago in Waikiki. He was still as entertaining then as he was on this recording from 1967 or 68. Maybe more so. I got to talk with him a bit and the man is the shiznit. I know a lot of people think of Don as just an antiquated lounge act but he's more than that, he's the ultimate beach boy. A "kanaka" who beats the "haoles" at their own game and takes their "wahines" to boot.


This recording is on Reprise Records but sounds more like a slightly higher than average quality bootleg than a major label release. It's in mono which I thought it a bit odd for something recorded and pressed in the late 60s. The sound quality lacks a bit but it's a nice little snapshot of the Don Ho live show experience circa that time frame.

There was really no way to break the tracks down individually, they all kind of mush together cause Don would sing/talk/sing/talk/crack a joke and then sing something different. It's ripped and presented as two mp3s, one for side one and one for side two.


Side One Recorded at the Cocoanut Grove, Los Angeles

Introduction by Bill Dana
Lover's Prayer
One Paddle, Two Paddle
What Now My Love (with Robin Wilson)
Soon It's Gonna Rain (Robin Wilson)

Side Two Recorded at The Royal Box, New York

Introduction by Arthur Godfrey
This Could Be the Start of Something Big
All That's Left Is the Lemon Tree
Goin't Out of My Head (The Aliis)
She's Gone Again (and I'll Remember You) (with Robin Wilson)
Born Free (with Robin Wilson)
Tiny Bubbles

You may be wondering who Robin Wilson and The Ali'is are (well, most of you probably know of The Ali'is). Apparently Don has always surrounded himself with an entourage of "up and coming" talent. When I saw him he had a few opening acts that were obviously under his wing. One of them was this crazy country cowboy who was allegedley a Cajun firefighter, but speaking with him after the show I noticed his "accent" would meander from Cajun to Australian to...I don't know...Ohio, or something. I'm guessing Robin Wilson was one of his proteges. The Ali'is were his back up singers who went on to become an independent act of their own. Why they covered "Goin' Out of My Head" is beyond me. It's a weird rendition.

Don usually peaks out or ends his shows with a couple of tunes: "Tiny Bubbles" and "Born Free." Now, I get "Tiny Bubbles." Its the song that everyone thinks of when they think of Don Ho. But why "Born Free?" He still features that song to this day.

Unfortunately, East Coast/West Coast is not as focused on the Hawaiian tunes as I'd like. I'm sure Don was courting mainstream at the time but its worth downloading and burning to a shiny disc for some play in the car. The jokes are risque and since it's early in his career, Don gives some back story to many of the songs.

Don Ho!

The Waikikis - Hawaii Beach Party

This a slightly odd one. When I heard the first track, "Hawaii Beach Party," I thought these guys are European. Weird la-la-la female vocals (like the kind you hear in cheesy Z-movies from early 70s Germany and Scandinavia) in front of a Northern European martial parade beat. Yeah there's steel guitar but no one in Hawaii or California plays like this. Then I hear the second track, "Farewell Hawaii," and think maybe these guys are from Nashville. The steel git has that 60s Nashville "Now Sound" vibe. Each track had me going back and forth, finally deciding on The Waikikis being German guys living Nashville.

Its not your trad Hawaiian album. Some of the tracks are downright borderline obnoxious but tracks 2 (Farewell Hawaii), 4 (A Little Bit of Heaven in Hawaii), and 8 (Coral Girl) are quite sweet and tasty. Very nice. Track 10 (Waikiki-Ki-Hu La Hu) gets two thumbs up for the cheeze factor.

"Coral Girl" is a bit of an odd name for a song. When ripping this I'd just finished re-reading Hawaiian Dick: Byrd of Paradise and pictured Coral Girl as an animated golem gal made up of bits and pieces of coral. If I sound like an idiot, well maybe I am, but Hawaiian Dick is a "graphic novel" (comic book) set in a 50s noir Oahu with supernatural themes like The Night Marchers of the Pali Highway and Kahami's sister, Leila Rose, getting killed and turned into a lovelorn zombie. So my Coral Girl would fit right in. You can find it on Amazon if you are so inclined.

Euro-Nashville-Hawaiian music here!