With The Munsters finding fans among a teenage television audience, the concept was ripe for spin-off marketing. Producers Joe Hooven and Hal Winn assembled the Wrecking Crew and a vocal group named the Go Goâ€™s to record a dozen light-surf novelty tunes written by uncredited scribes, and a future collectible was born. None of these songs have the adolescent archness of Mad Magazineâ€™s records, or the scene detail of Gary Usherâ€™s surf â€˜nâ€™ drag albums, but thereâ€™s entertainment to be found in the bump and grind sax of â€œVampire Vamp,â€ the ersatz Jan & Dean falsetto of â€œ(Here Comes the) Munsterâ€™s Coach,â€ the Shadows-styled guitar of â€œEerie Beach,â€ and the various Munster references. This was reissued on CD and limited edition purple vinyl in 2018, with the latter now getting a second life on ghastly grey mono wax. Not an essential, but interesting for fans of mid-60s pop novelties. [Â©2020 Hyperbolium]
Yep Rocâ€™s twenty-seven track anthology compiles all of the Christmas-related titles that Los Straitjackets have released across 2002â€™s Tis the Season for Los Straitjackets, 2009â€™s Yuletide Beat, 2011â€™s â€œHark the Herald Angels Singâ€ single, and Yep Rocâ€™s 2007 collection Oh Santa!, and adds a bonus live version of Vince Guaraldiâ€™s â€œLinus & Lucyâ€ recorded on the bandâ€™s 2015 tour with Nick Lowe. The playlist is dominated by â€˜60s-styled guitar-driven instrumental versions of Christmas classics, often cleverly augmented by motifs borrowed from â€œLa Bamba,â€ â€œPipeline,â€ â€œWalk Donâ€™t Run,â€ â€œMisirlou,â€ â€œI Fought the Law,â€ â€œBuckaroo,â€ â€œSing, Sing, Singâ€ and other iconic tunes. There are playful Latin beats onÂ â€œRudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeerâ€ and â€œO Tannenbaum,â€ Memphis soul on â€œJoy to the Worldâ€ and power-pop on â€œGroovy Old Saint Nick.â€ The bandâ€™s three originals include two instrumentals, â€œChristmas in Las Vegasâ€ and â€œChristmas Weekend,â€ and the albumâ€™s only vocal, â€œHoliday Twist.â€ This is a creative collection of Christmas tunes that will spruce up your holidays. [Â©2019 Hyperbolium]
This four-piece brings together experience from such UK garage, soul and freakbeat bands as the Embrooks, Mystreated, Baron Four, Thee Vicars, and Masonics. Their debut is an eight-song mini-album stuffed with snotty vocals and guitar solos from Mike Whittaker, catchy rhythm guitar riffs from Elsa Whittaker, and a solid bottom end from bassist John Gibbs and drummer Mole. Their eight originals suggest early Stones, the Pretty Things, Faces and Standells, and the album closes with the surf-tinged psychedelic sounds of â€œDonâ€™t Let Them Bring You Down.â€ Eight tasty morsels for garage dwellers. [Â©2018 Hyperbolium]
â€œExoticaâ€ is a musical genre born at the post-war intersection of jet travel and high fidelity. Itâ€™s name was coined for Martin Dennyâ€™s pioneering debut album, and itâ€™s sound offered an intoxicating blend of world percussion, tribal rhythms, orchestral arrangements, wordless vocals, jazz changes and modern instrumentation. Exotica offered an invitation to an exotic Shangri-La through expansive, often culturally ersatz, sounds. Though born in tropical climes, exotica expanded, particularly in retrospect, to include Asian and Latin influences. The genreâ€™s 1990â€™s revival, amid a broader look back at â€œspace age bachelor padâ€ culture, spurred numerous reissues of thrift store rarities, artist anthologies and genre compilations, alongside new books, visual art, weekenders and analyses of the revival itself.
Canadian artist Gordon Monahan posited a holy trinity of exotica songs in â€œTaboo,â€ â€œCaravanâ€ and â€œQuiet Village,â€ repeating them in triplet form in both performance and on record. â€œTaboo,â€ though written by Cuban singer and composer Margarita Lecuona, is closely associated with Hawaiian vibraphonist Arthur Lyman. â€œCaravanâ€ began its life as a jazz standard written by Juan Tizol and Duke Ellington, and though first performed by the latter in 1936, became an exotica staple in the 1950s. Itâ€™s offered here by percussionist Bobby Christian, with a twangy guitar lead and a sirenâ€™s ghostly vocal from Christianâ€™s daughter. â€œQuiet Village,â€ written and originally recorded by Les Baxter, was turned into exoticaâ€™s national anthem by Martin Dennyâ€™s 1957 arrangement. It appears here in a vocal version by former Our Gang actress Darla Hood, as well as a vibraphone-led instrumental by Five Glow Tones.
Numero expands on Monahanâ€™s trio of exotica pillars with 54 (48 for the LP release) expertly curated rarities. A few of the titles may be familiar, such as â€œThe Moon of Manakooraâ€ and â€œNature Boy,â€ but theyâ€™re presented here in versions all but the most devout have not likely heard. And given that â€œexoticaâ€ is more a retrospective label applied by crate-digging collectors than a cohesive musical category, collections such as this define the borders for themselves. Disc 1, titled â€œDaiquiri Dirges,â€ focuses on guitar instrumentals, including a surprisingly mellow early recording from the Pacific Northwestâ€™s Wailers entitled â€œDriftwood,â€ the Blazersâ€™ surf-tinged â€œSound of Mecca,â€ the Palatonâ€™s languorous â€œJungle Guitar,â€ the Voodoosâ€™ Quiet Village-inspired â€œThe Voodoo Walk,â€ and the Chaynsâ€™ earworm â€œLive With the Moon.â€
Disc 2, titled â€œRhum Rhapsodies,â€ expands the program to vocal tracks, giving a feel for some of the not-particularly-exotic acts that hitched a ride on the good ship exotica. In addition to a second track by Darla Hood (â€œSilent Island,â€ also rendered in a wonderfully moody orchestral arrangement by Modesto Duran), thereâ€™s a dramatic harmony chorus on film composer Andre Brummerâ€™s â€œTumba,â€ comic actress Martha Raye cover of the exotica chestnut â€œLotus Land,â€ Jerry Warrenâ€™s Paul Anka-styled B-side â€œEnchantress,â€ the Potted Palmâ€™s AIP-soundtrack-ready â€œMy House of Grass,â€ and Akimâ€™s frantic â€œVoodoo Drums.â€ Don Reedâ€™s sax-heavy cover of â€œNature Boyâ€ gains a dollop of exotica cred from its haunting, Yma Sumac-styled vocal, and the Centuriesâ€™ â€œPolynesian Paradiseâ€ faintly suggests folk and surf origins, even as the wordless vocalist loses track of the islandsâ€™ tranquil feeling.
The setâ€™s third disc, titled â€œMai Tai Mambos,â€ returns to instrumentals, sailing into port with Latin, guitar, jazz and orchestral arrangements from Cuban conga player Modesto Duran, Canadian rockabilly Arnie Derksen, Americans Nick Roberts, Eddie â€œThe Sheikâ€ Kochak and Jimmy McGriff, and others. The percussive arrangements and pulse-racing rhythms revive the setâ€™s exotica vibe, with even soul singer Bobby Paris finding an Afro-Cuban groove for 1961â€™s â€œDark Continent.â€ The instrumentalists take the exotica elements as new flavors – rhythms, instruments, melodic lines and song titles to be imbibed – rather than overt commercial opportunities to be chugged. Each of the three discs harbors unique charms, and listeners may find their favorite shifting with the sybaritic tide.
The CD setâ€™s 129-page hard-cover book is perhaps even more impressive than the CDs. Ken Shipleyâ€™s liner notes provide a scene-setting introduction, and the song notes are spectacular in their encyclopedia detail. Michael Graves has conjured magic in his audio restoration of the mixed bag of tape and vinyl he was served, knitting together the disparate sources into a smoothly flowing program. The book is filled with period photos and record label reproductions, and while the overall design is beautiful, some of the backgrounds make the text hard to read. The selection of lesser known artists and songs makes this set a terrific complement to exoticaâ€™s best known recordings, and a set that both the novice and experienced fan can enjoy. [Â©2018 Hyperbolium]
Before there was â€œThe Beach Boys,â€ there was a garage band called the Pendletones, formed by three brothers, a cousin, a friend and a domineering father whose own show business dreams had never come to fruition. The harmony vocals of the 1950s and the surf sounds of the early â€˜60s provided the ambitious Brian Wilson stepping stones to musical immortality, and these two discs of pre-Capitol sides paint the most complete picture yet of Wilsonâ€™s first steps towards the beach. From the Fall of 1961 until their signing to Capitol in the Spring of 1962, the Beach Boys recorded nine songs for Hite and Dorinda Morgan, with â€œSurfinâ€™â€ b/w â€œLuauâ€ released as a single on the Candix and X labels. The A-side charted at #75 nationally, but was a huge local hit on Los Angelesâ€™ powerhouses KFWB and KRLA.
The group recorded additional material for the Morgans, including Beach Boys icons, â€œSurfinâ€™ Safariâ€ and â€œSurfer Girl,â€ but only one other single, â€œBarbieâ€ b/w â€œWhat is a Young Girl Made Ofâ€ was released in the U.S., and then with Brian, Carl and Audree Wilson singing under the name Kenny and the Cadets to pre-produced backing tracks. The rest of the recordings were consigned to the vault, coming to light only after the group had established themselves on Capitol. Omnivoreâ€™s two-disc set gathers together the pre-Capitol master takes and all of the extant session material, including demos, rehearsals, studio chatter, false starts, overdubs and alternates. At sixty-two tracks covering only nine songs, this set isnâ€™t for the casual listener, but for fans who have imbibed every detail of the masters, itâ€™s a welcome peek into the groupâ€™s embryonic creative process.
Among the most surprising elements of this set is the fidelity of the tapes. It may not match what Brian himself achieved at Goldstar and elsewhere, but even the demos are clean and the studio productions are quite crisp. That said, take after take of the same song, often with only minute differences to break up the repetition, is both a revealing and an exhausting experience. The sessions document the arduous job of capturing a perfect live take from a nascent group with no studio experience, the group and their producer gaining confidence on each track as they try it again and again. Though there was limited overdubbing of guitar leads and lead vocals (and for â€œSurfinâ€™ Safari,â€ a ragged stereo mix), the core of these takes are a quintet posed around microphones, hoping that no one screws up.
â€œSurfinâ€™ Safariâ€ and â€œSurfer Girlâ€ were reborn at Capitol (the former with reworked lyrics, the latter shaking off the morose tone of this early version), but the rest of the material failed to make the jump. Dorinda Hiteâ€™s â€œLavenderâ€ is sung in acapella harmony for the demos and augmented by bass and acoustic guitar on studio takes. Hiteâ€™s â€œBarbieâ€ is a novelty tune redeemed largely by Brianâ€™s tender lead vocal and the productionâ€™s stereo mix; its flip â€œWhat is a Young Girl Made Ofâ€ is a frantic 50s-styled R&B song that even Brianâ€™s lead vocal canâ€™t redeem. Brian Wilsonâ€™s â€œJudyâ€ is a bouncy pop tune written for his then-girlfriend Judy Bowles; the master take shows how the group filled out bare demos with Carlâ€™s guitar and Brianâ€™s sincere, enthusiastic lead vocal. Carlâ€™s â€œBeach Boy Stompâ€ is a basic instrumental that picks up steam as the group plays it a few times, paving the way to â€œStoked,â€ â€œSurf Jamâ€ and â€œShut Down, Part II.â€
The setâ€™s most revealing moment occurs at the end of six takes of â€œSurfer Girl.â€ Unable to play bass and nail down his vocal, Brian Wilson realizes that overdubbing would allow him to focus on singing. His request is curtly shut down by Hite Williams, who either didnâ€™t understand its value, or didnâ€™t want to pay for extra studio time. To add insult to injury, thereâ€™s an extra overdub with an unknown and uncompelling lead vocalist. No doubt this helped plant the seeds of self-production in Wilsonâ€™s head. Moments like this are a music archaeologistâ€™s dream, and in a sense this entire set is like a dig through a museumâ€™s archive. This isnâ€™t something youâ€™ll track through on a regular basis, but there are subtle, important discoveries to be made here, and youâ€™ll enjoy having them pop up on shuffle. Some of this material was released on 1991â€™s Lost & Found, but this full rendering, packaged in a tri-fold digipak with a 20-page booklet and liner notes from James Murphy, is the one to get. [Â©2016 Hyperbolium]
As a product of Fresno State College in California’s Central Valley, one might assume that â€œDeltasâ€ referred to the nearby Sacramento-San Joaquin delta. And while there is a tinge of surf in some of the compositions, the albumâ€™s sax-and-organ foundation has more in common with inland R&B frat-rock that coastal guitar-based surf-rock. Guitarist Terry Christofsen added a bit of twang, but without the reverb common to the surf scene, and Ray Carlson’s fat sax tone suggests King Curtis and Buddy Savitt. Everything has a wild, road house air, from their instrumental cover of the Beach Boys’ “Surfin’â€ to Nat Adderly and Oscar Brown’s jazz standard “Work Song.â€ Waller’s many originals, including the raging title track riff on “You Can’t Sit Down,â€ surely tore the house down and left sweaty dancers in search of refreshment. [Â©2016 Hyperbolium]
Those looking for a history of native-made Hawaiian music may be disappointed by this set. But theyâ€™re about the only ones. Most will enjoy the four discsâ€™ and 102-page hardbound bookâ€™s exposition of Hawaiian music and its multiple eruptions in mainstream entertainment. While the set does include a helping of native-made Hawaiian sounds, particularly on disc three, its reach is wider and its statement broader. In both sights and sounds, this set essays both the roots of Hawaiian music, and its many manifestations in pop culture. As the bookâ€™s photographs and sheet music art demonstrate, Hawaii has long been both a destination and a mythology, and there are few places the two elements have fused more fully than in music.
Tempted by brilliant poster imagery and stoked by the speed of plane travel, South Seas tourism flourished in the â€˜40s and â€˜50s. Upon arriving in the Hawaiian islands, visitors found both authentic and ersatz culture awaiting them. And upon their return to the states, tourists brought back memories and souvenirs that served to deepen Hawaiiâ€™s allure as both a vacation getaway and a dramatic visual setting. Hawaii has provided a picturesque backdrop for films, television shows, commercials and even cartoons, and its songs and instruments (particularly the ukulele and steel guitar) provided material for a surprisingly wide range of non-Hawaiian artists. Hulaland pays homage to the stateside displays of Hawaiiana that grew from island roots, blossoming in Hollywood, Chicago, New York and elsewhere.
The set opens with Louis Armstrong singing â€œOn a Little Bamboo Bridge,â€ backed by the Waimea-born Andy Iona and his group, the Islanders. Ionaâ€™s mix of traditional melodies and American swing provided a welcome spot for the New Orleans-born Armstrong, and together they lay out a template of the setâ€™s riches. Disc one includes Hawaiiana from several unlikely artists, including Jo Stafford, Ethel Merman, Burns & Allen, Dorothy Lamour and the yodeling country star, Slim Whitman. The disc explores everything from kitschy â€˜30s cartoon themes to â€˜50s steel-guitar swing, and shows how Hawaiian music was popularized by native-born artists, collaborators and appropriators.
Hawaiiana threaded into popular music throughout the â€˜50s and â€˜60s, with Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman developing their inventive strain of exotica in the mid-50s. Disc two explores these exotic sounds as their waves echoed in a stateside culture gripped by rock â€˜nâ€™ roll and surf music. Here you will find the full flower of American mediaâ€™s fascination with Hawaii in the television themes from â€œHawaii Five-O,â€ â€œHawaiian Eye,â€ and a lap steel variation on â€œPeter Gunn.â€ Also included are selections from several of exoticaâ€™s pioneers, and others, like organist Earl Grant and guitarist Billy Mure, who were swept up by the wave. By the early â€˜60s, Hawaiian music was often more of an ancestral headwater than a direct tributary to the mainstream, as classic island themes were rendered with twanging electric guitars, sung in doo-wop vocals and accompanied by jazz arrangements.
Disc three returns the listener to the 1930s for a disc of Hawaiian classics, waxed primarily in Los Angeles and New York, with a few Honolulu recordings thrown in for good measure. The song selections mirror some of the selections on the previous discs (e.g., â€œHawaiian War Chantâ€ and â€œUkulele Ladyâ€), providing listeners an opportunity to compare. Disc four splits the difference by sampling contemporary acts that play a wide range of material (including the Venturesâ€™ â€œWalk Donâ€™t Runâ€) in vintage style. The time hopping between and within the discs adds to the image of Hawaii as a timeless, Xanadu-like paradise. The setâ€™s old-timey acoustic music blends surprisingly well with the Hawaiian-themed jazz and rock, and the last discâ€™s contemporary performances are powered by the same breezes as the setâ€™s earliest tracks.
In many ways, the four discs provide a soundtrack for the 102-page, 9×11 hardcover book in which theyâ€™re housed. The rattan-textured cover and heavyweight, glossy pages are stuffed with eye-popping reproductions of vintage photographs, full-page sheet music covers, postcards, and travel posters. James Austinâ€™s liner notes (which, along with other text in the book, are riddled with typos unbecoming of a set this lavish) provide context for the project, and a bit of history on Hawaiiana, but not the sort of detail on artists, songwriters, publishers and licensing one might expect. But this set isnâ€™t intended to be a scholarly tome on Hawaiian music or even Hawaiiana; itâ€™s an alluring brochure that beckons with romantic images meant to be imbibed rather than studied. As the notes say, â€œthis is for tourists, not purists,â€ so dim the lights, mix yourself a Mai Tai, and enjoy. [Â©2015 Hyperbolium]
On the surface, Ronny and the Daytonasâ€™ â€œLittle G.T.O.â€ is a classic mid-60s California surf & drag hit. The song is super-stocked with a driving beat, period hot rod lingo and a falsetto hook worthy of Jan & Dean. But the song wasnâ€™t produced in California, nor was it even the product of an actual group. The eponymous â€œRonnyâ€ was actually John Wilkin, son of country songwriter Marijohn Wilkin (â€œWaterlooâ€ â€œLong Black Veilâ€), the Daytonas were an ad hoc aggregation of Nashville studio hands, and the sessionâ€™s producer was Sun Records alumni Bill Justis. Even more surprising, â€œLittle G.T.O.â€ was Wilkinâ€™s first foray as an artist, and it launched a recording career that lasted into the early 1970s and spanned multiple record labels.
The Pontiac G.T.O.â€™s 1964 debut proved to be a pivotal moment in automobile history, igniting a muscle car craze that engaged all four American car makers and spread quickly to popular culture. Wilkin was a high school student when his dual interests in music and cars were catalyzed by an article in Car and Driver. The result was the #4 hit, â€œLittle G.T.O.,â€ with Wilkinâ€™s nylon-stringed classical guitar providing the unusual solo. With a hit single on his hands, more originals were recorded, an album was put together, and a touring band was assembled to hit the road. The follow-on singles, â€œCalifornia Boundâ€ and a cover of Jan & Deanâ€™s â€œBucket T,â€ charted, though without the nationwide impact of the debut, and â€œLittle Scramblerâ€ and â€œBeach Boy,â€ despite their teen effervescence, failed to gain any commercial traction.
The lack of follow-on hits didnâ€™t deter Wilkin, and working with Buzz Cason, he released the bouncy single â€œTiger-A-Go-Goâ€ (b/w the instrumental â€œBay Cityâ€) under the names of Buck & Buzzy. The duo had more success with the Daytonasâ€™ second (and final) major chart hit, 1965â€™s â€œSandy,â€ developing a softer sound with folk tones, lush backing vocals and strings. The corresponding album offered more introspective lyrics than the earlier surf songs, and reflected the sort of growing sophistication heard in the Beach Boysâ€™ contemporaneous releases. Strangely, 1966 started up in reverse with the non-charting single â€œAntique â€™32 Studebaker Dictator Coup,â€ a track lifted from the 1964 Little G.T.O. album.
The Daytonasâ€™ finished their run on the Mala label with 1966â€™s â€œIâ€™ll Think of Summer,â€ and debuted on RCA with â€œDianne, Dianne.â€ The latter was co-written with Merle Kilgore, and carried on the soft sounds of Sandy. The flip, â€œAll American Girl,â€ was a catchy Jan & Dean surf-rock pastiche that must have already sounded nostalgic upon its release in mid-1966. The background vocals and falsetto flourishes of â€œYoungâ€ quickly recall the Beach Boys, though the driving piano and drums give the song an original kick. The flip, â€œWinter Weather,â€ sounds as if it were drawn from an AIP teen film set in snow country. Wilkin also tried covers, turning Rex Griffinâ€™s 1937 suicide themed, â€œThe Last Letterâ€ into a teenage tearjerker, venturing winningly into light psych with Mark Charronâ€™s â€œThe Girls and the Boys,â€ and crooning â€œAlfieâ€ and Boyce & Hartâ€™s â€œI Wanna Be Free.â€
RCA issued singles by both the Daytonas and Bucky Wilkin, the latter including the war themed â€œDelta Day (No Time to Cry),â€ co-written by Wilkin, his mother and one of her Buckhorn Music staff writers, Kris Kristofferson. Wilkinâ€™s last â€œRonnyâ€ originals included the Brothers Four-styled folk harmony of â€œWalk with the Sun,â€ the harmony rocker â€œBrave New Worldâ€ and the pop â€œHold Onto Your Heart.â€ A few tracks that were left in the vault finish off disc two with the surf-styled â€œDaytona Beachâ€ the organ rocker â€œHey Little Girl,â€ a reverential cover of Barry & Greenwichâ€™s â€œChapel of Love,â€ and the tender â€œAngelina.â€ For a â€œgroupâ€ thatâ€™s known primarily for their first single, Wilkin built a surprisingly extensive catalog, riding various musical trends between 1964 and 1968, and creating a solid body of original work. Missing are his later solo releases on Liberty and United Artists, but whatâ€™s here, remastered almost entirely from tape in original mono, with revealing liner notes by Mr. Wilkin himself, is a surprise and a delight. [Â©2015 Hyperbolium]
When last heard from, this Durango, Colorado band was sporting a charming lo-fi sound. Three years later, their production is richer, their arrangements more polished and their musical scope widened. Tracy Ford sounds like Patti Smith backed by a rockabilly band on the opening â€œIt Canâ€™t Be So Hard,â€ and just as youâ€™re settling into the two-step groove, Tim Lillyquist lays staccato surf picking into â€œWalida.â€ The bandâ€™s punk-rock, country, psychobilly, doo-wop and surf sounds are surprisingly sympathetic to one another, with Lillyquistâ€™s guitar and Fordâ€™s varied vocal moods tying it all together. Thereâ€™s chicken-picking (â€œTokyoâ€), â€˜50s styled balladry (â€œWhere Can I Goâ€) and even drippy neo-psych guitars (â€œIn the Breezeâ€), and the distance between them all is shorter than you might imagine. [Â©2015 Hyperbolium]
Released on the Original Sound label in 1963, the 12 tracks combined a trio of bongo-heavy tunes by Preston Epps, including his one true hit â€œBongo Rock,â€ together with nine tracks recorded by Dave Aerni on guitar and Paul Buff on everything else as the Bongo Teens. Eppsâ€™ freak hit (which rivals Sandy Nelsonâ€™s â€œLet There Be Drumsâ€ for most famous Billboard top twenty hit with a drum lead) begat a few more singles, including the low-charting â€œBongo Bongo Bongoâ€ included here. The Bongo Teens’ tracks lean to guitar, organ and sax-led covers of then-popular surf and non-surf songs, with Eppsâ€™ bongo rhythms running underneath and taking a few solos. What make this pair of reissues so interesting are the bonus tracks, and the release of separate mono and stereo versions. Watch out for Essential Mediaâ€™s 12-track version of this set â€“ the Crossfire reissues have 23 tracks. The bonuses include rare singles by the Rotations and Brian Lord & The Midnighters, along with Bongo Teens sides (with and without Preston Epps) that were only released abroad. Despite its cash-in origins, this is some pretty groovy go-go music, and the remastered sound is excellent. [Â©2013 Hyperbolium] Â (Mono) Â (Stereo)