This week’s prompt for Twisted Mix-Tape Tuesday is “Dealer’s Choice,” which basically equates to “t gets to do whatever in the flip he wants!” So, and without further ado, welcome to my lounge.
No, seriously, this overdue return to the ranks of the TMTT tweeters is going to be all about the lounge music, ya dig?
I first discovered this musical smorgasbord, when I decided that while playing bands like The Exploited and GBH around the house wouldn’t necessarily be healthy for my young children’s ears, I still craved ear worm oddities. What I didn’t expect, but realized as the Lounge scene was dribbling all over my mental radio’s play list, was that bands that I formerly thought were groundbreaking – bands like Skinny Puppy – didn’t even hold a candle to the weirdness and creativity that folks like Les Baxter orgasmed all over almost every single disc he put out. And HE did it in a suit and tie, sans fake blood and pyrotechnics!
Although he’s the Big Daddy of the lounge scene, he’s going to bring up the rear today, as one of his biggest contributions to the era, was performed better and more famously, when covered by lounge’s other Big Daddy, Martin Denny…
Now most folks knowledge of lounge music starts and ends with the above played “exotica” genre. But there were multiple flavors of the stuff, and the second most fascinating would HAVE had to have been the Space Age scene. While not pertaining to matters sci-fi in each and every instance, instrumentally these cats were flying in the atmosphere nonetheless, as J. Hoffman once showed with the help of Billy May…
Instrumentation was important to the burgeoning population undergoing the “Surround Sound” evolution, and for whatever reason, the Hammond B5 bore a scene all unto itself. Quite possibly the very first recorded instance of geeks proving that they could be cool and hep – some even getting laid in the process – regardless of the fact that every natural law would seem to have been in opposition to the idea…
Now it’s has been reported that lounge music developed as a result of American soldiers traveling overseas and hearing for the first time, wholly “other” musical concoctions. Mounds and mounds of releases capitalized on this idea, and of all the countries “explored” South America was by far one of the busiest. Represented poorly quite often by white men with New York accents, it was also performed to loungesque perfection by the Third Head of Lounge’s Unholy Trinity, a certain Juan Esquivel…
Of course, one simply could not travel Lounge’s seven booze-soaked adventure-filled seas without a layover in sunny Vegas. And while stopping there, we’ve really no need to look at too many of the other usual suspects (in this post, at any rate), than another New York accent you might have heard of – maybe even here – who spent at least a bit of his life riding high…
And yes, before we scuttle off, we must tip our hat to the original pack of “Mr. Vegas’…”
But t, what about Baxter, daddy-O? You said he was swinging up the rear, and you’ve already blown through five + 1 choice slices of musical peculiarities. Last call’s been called, and Happy Hour is over, Jack! What gives?
That, my friend, is why God invented the Bonus Track.
As I mentioned, Les was The Man. The man who never got the credit due, for being The Man in a scene that would – in the final analysis – never get the credit due for being the door opener for so many of the other scenes to follow. So to play us outta here today, we’ll listen to one of the tracks that I feel best epitomizes the lounge era sound. The cherry on top of an already multi-flavored, layered, and dipped in martini sound cake…
Thanks for stopping by my joint today, and please, remember to take a complimentary gift bag on your way out…
The Dreaded Also Ran’s
PS: Here’s the “Also Ran’s.” A collection of the tracks (consider them “B” sides to the above selections) that almost made the cut, only to be nixed once I remembered that the final result of each post was supposed to be worthy of a well-mixed mix-tape… Enjoy!
Space Age Bachelor’s Pad
PPS: If interested in learning more about this scene, start by exploring Capitol Record’s Ultra-Lounge compilation mixes. A veritable cornucopia of all things Lounge, and a worthwhile addition to anyone’s music library.