Que Mango! (Scamp)
by Clarendon Lavorich
So much Bachelor Pad music, so little space! Where to begin our journey into the depths of the ’50s and ’60s big band/lounge act? Well, let’s start with the Scamp label, who has been re-issuing what has been called “Hip Music” by some and “Total Cheeze” by others. In their Sound Gallery Volume Two, we are graced with 27 tracks of Suburban Wife Swapping Party Music. There are some wonderful tracks here, like the racy Shaft-like “The Rat Catchers” by Johnny Pearson & His Orchestra, and Laurie Johnson‘s “Avenger’s Tag,” a lovely strawberries-and-champagne ditty. However, it seems that the labels these days are stretching. I mean, do we really need what seems like a ten minute version of “Light My Fire” by John Andrews Tartaglia, or some of the more fluff pieces, like “Powerhouse Pop” by Keith Mansfield. Sound Gallery is really for those people who don’t like to be challenged by their music, the Pop of Cocktail Pop.
On the other hand, this month also saw the release of John Barry‘s The EMI Years Volume Three. Now this is the kind of music that drives me wild. The writer of “The James Bond Theme” himself, Barry wrote of the best soundtracks of the ’60s before going on to become a “serious” film composer. Contained herein are such pieces as “Cutty Sark” and “March of the Mandarins” as well as “The Theme From `A Jolly Bad Fellow'” and even “Unchained Melody.” This stuff has an epic quality to it, larger than life, expressive but non-intrusive. Perfect for sitting on your chez lounge, whiskey sour in one hand, and a happenin’ chick or fella by your side. And for those of you who are a little more Far Out, he has tunes such as “Onward Christian Spacemen” and “Mouse on the Moon.” And don’t forget the sweet sappiness of “Twenty Four Hours Ago.”
Also in, straight from a tour of the future, is 101 Strings, and their rendition of Astro Sounds From Beyond the Year 2000. Blasting off with numbers like “Astral Freakout” and “Trippin’ on Lunar 07,” the ubiquitous 101 Strings make the Space Age bearable, even if we are faced with “A Dissapointed Love With A Desensitized Robot.” Though not as far out as Esquivel, Astro Sounds… has its fair share of weirdness that made the ’60s so great for lounge music. Also included are some bonus tracks from the “erotic” sessions recorded about the same time. “Whiplash” has, in addition to the five score (and one) bits of catgut, the sound of a bullwhip and a young lady’s excited panting and moaning. What could be finer?
I’ll tell you what. The late Les Baxter‘s 1970 recording Que Mango! His last non-soundtrack album, he was set to completely weird out the orchestra. Not an easy task, considering that it’s 101 Strings once again. His clarity of thought shines through, as the musicians create exotic lands and paradisiacal locals. If you thought that Exotica died with the birth of disco, think again. This music is as valid as old Martin Denny.
And that’s all from the Bachelor Pad this month. Keep digging for those Yma Sumac albums, and stay hip.