The Word: To say that Les Baxter invented exotica is to ignore Mozart, Ravel, and plenty of twentieth-century Afro-Cuban musicians, not to mention the folk traditions of the world. But he did kick off a minor idiom that can be described as kitschy Latin removed to Hawaii. He wrote the initial exotica songbook that Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman were to make their careers on. And Baxter's influence was felt in many other ways, too, however, from best-selling standard orchestral pop to a great many soundtracks for all kinds of films covering several decades.
Les Baxter's recorded legacy is nothing short of heroic, no doubt reflecting a real talent for getting along well with Hollywood, television producers, and of course musicians. For the generalist seeking all kinds of interesting record, Les Baxter soundtracks are a goldmine. For the exotica enthusiast, there is no ignoring the few but essential Les Baxter exotica LPs.
Further below: Martin Denny 45s
Links: are to artists bio/discog pages in the Hyp Records guide:
Images: accurately represent items but are not always the exact copy listed/purchased
Discount: ALWAYS try to buy more than one item at a time
Ethel Azama: Exotic Dreams; LST-7104; 2nd/spectral/deep groove E-/N- S $50 (or mono LRP-3104, 1st/green/deep groove E/N $25, specify) -- exotica/Japanese/female vocal; rarer of her two for the label (the other is straight jazz, with Art Pepper); Martin Denny discovered and prod. the Japanese vocalist (signed her, recorded her in Honolulu, wrote the liners); Denny cohort and exotica arranger extraordinaire Paul Conrad accompanies, as does the rest of Denny's group; includes some talk and samisen; jacket photo is from the same shoot as Hypnotique!; Ringo Oiwake, Shady Lady Bird, Nightingale, Friendly Island, Green Fire, Mountain High, Kawohikukuapulani (Helen Beamer), Speak Low..
The Savage Beat of Augie Colon: Sophisticated Savage; Liberty LRP-3101; 2nd/spectral/deep groove E+/E+* $60 -- exotica/conga/Latin; 1st of 2 by late, Puerto Rican percussion star of the Martin Denny group (Denny produced it); sensational, hall-of-fame jacket depicts Augie pounding a log-conga in front of a scary palm-frond "tiki"; exciting, upbeat, and fun tunes as well as chants and even some speech; Okolehau (the legendary Hawaiian alcohol made from the ti-plant--on this totally swinging Denny original, Augie speaks in pidgin!), Tambo, El Doctor, Tabu, Peanut Vendor, Tierra va Tembla, Colon, Manuela Boy..*slight warp but tracks fine--great jacket!
Augie Colon: Chant of the Jungle; Liberty LST-7148; 2nd/spectral/deep groove N-/N- S $75 -- exotica/conga/bongo/Latin; one of the best, rare Martin Denny productions in a truly sensational jacket (even by Liberty/Denny standards); 2nd of 2 by the late, Puerto Rican percussion star; upbeat & fun; Pimitiva, Jungle Drums, Chant of the Jungle (nice bongo break), Witch Doctor (Ross Bagdasarian/David Seville's), Mambo Balahu..
Martin Denny: Exotica; Liberty LRP-3034; 1957; 1st/white-logo E-/E- $15 (or 1st/black-logo E/E- $15, specify) (or 2nd/black-logo E+/E+ $15, specify) -- exotica; THE classic you have to have and not just for the typical, apparent reasons; first, and most significant, only the original mono recording (all mono copies are this) has the very first Denny group featuring Arthur Lyman, anbd all agree it is more exciting than the stereo remake! (Liberty had enough class to re-record the LP in stereo with the new group, but it is an entirely different, later-by-a-year-or-so recording!); second, the hall-of-fame first Sandy Warner jacket and music both are such that no exotica collection can be without it -- half the tunes are by Les Baxter, from Ritual of the Savage, which means it's nearly a remake of that masterpiece minus the strings!
Martin Denny: Exotica; Liberty LST-7034; 1958; sealed S $65 (or spectral E/N S $15, specify) (or blue-label promo, deep groove E+/E+ S $15, specify) (or 1st/black-label E+/E- S $15, specify) -- Liberty had the second Martin Denny Group remake the classic LP rather than resort to fake stereo, so it's a completely new and different recording, featuring Julius Wechter replacing Arthur Lyman, who figured correctly that he could sell plenty of his own records doing his superior bird-call thing; one of the few instances in which you need both mono and stereo versions!; Quiet Village, Return to Paradise, Hong Kong Blues, Busy Port, Lotus Land, Similau, Stone God, Jungle Flower, China Nights, Ah Me Furu, Waipio, Love Dance
The Exotic Sounds of Martin Denny: Primitiva; Liberty LRP-3087; 1958; 1st/green/deep groove N-/N- $20 -- exotica classic (great/early) featuring the great Tak Shindo!; gorgeous, hall-of-fame Sandy Warner jacket (definitely worth it for that alone, and one of the reasons it sold well and continues to sell is it's awesome decor--but the music is just as worthy), terrific tunes, with notes by the great Les Baxter, who made it all possible; Burma Train, Kalua, M'Gambo Mambo, Buddhist Bells, M'Bira, Flamingo, Llama Serenade, Akaka Falls, Bangcock Cockfight, Mau Mau, Dites Moi, Jamaica Farewell
The Exotic Sounds of Martin Denny: Primitiva; Liberty LST-7023; 1958; 1st/black E-/V+ S $20 -- what's especially attractive about this rare 1st press is the dark green of the jacket (which in all later iterations is much bluer, no doubt color-corrected) -- exotica classic (great/early) featuring the great Tak Shindo!; gorgeous, hall-of-fame Sandy Warner jacket (definitely worth it for that alone, and one of the reasons it sold well and continues to sell is it's awesome decor--but the music is just as worthy), terrific tunes, with notes by the great Les Baxter, who made it all possible; Burma Train, Kalua, M'Gambo Mambo, Buddhist Bells, M'Bira, Flamingo, Llama Serenade, Akaka Falls, Bangcock Cockfight, Mau Mau, Dites Moi, Jamaica Farewell
Martin Denny: Hypnotique; Liberty LRP-3102; 1959; N-/N- $25 (or E+/N- $20, specify) (or E-/E- $15, specify) -- exotica; a masterpiece, his best original, strict-exotica LP; lavish production, guests Jack Halloran Singers (great effect) and 3 Japanese musicians (another smart move), one of which is Bud Lee on samisen; top arrangements and originals on a theme/mood (and he's not just coasting on Les Baxter tunes here, although there are two: the wild "Voodoo Dreams" and "Scimitar"--good Mid-East fare!); "American in Bali" features gamelan; notes by James Michener(!); essential!!!; Jungle Madness, On a Little Street in Singapore, Voodoo Dreams, Chinese Lullaby, Hypnotique, St. Louis Blues, We Kiss in a Shadow, Summertime, Scimitar, American in Bali, Japanese Sandman
Martin Denny: Afro-Desia; Liberty LST-7111; 1959; 1st/black N-/N S $40 (or 2nd/spectral/deep groove E+/E+ S $30, specify) (or mono LRP-3111 1st N-/N $20, specify) -- exotica; harder to find and more in demand than most of the rest of the Denny Group's great early ones, particularly in collectors-item, black-label stereo; the Randy van Horne Singers add a lively touch, and then there's the jacket image of Sandy Warner as a bleached blonde; one of his most light-hearted and sheer fun LPs, it's a people pleaser and far more exotica than African, but that's the idea; Tsetse Fly, Ma'Chumba, Jungle Drums, Cubano Chant, Baia, Swamp Fire, Temptation, Simba, Mumba, Aku Aku, Raftero, Siboney
Martin Denny: Exotica Vol. III; Liberty LST-7116; 1959; 1st/black/deep groove N-/N- S $30 -- highly desirable collectors-item stereo first press!; early exotica classic featuring Sandy Warner "the exotica girl" on the jacket and many of the core Denny group's (Martin Denny, Harvey Ragsdale, Julius Wechter, Augie Colon) finest performances; Jungle River Boat, Harbor Lights, Manila, Mama Iti E Papa E, Bamboo Lullaby, Ringo Oiwake, Moon of Manakoora, Limehouse Blues, Beautiful Kahana, Caravan, Congo Train, Hello Young Lovers
Martin Denny: Exotic Percussion; Liberty LST-7168; 1961; N-/N- S $25 -- exotica; one of his most desired, featuring top instruments (samisen, magna harp, and a host of percussion devices), top tunes, and perhaps the most sensational Sandy Warner jacket of all; and it's considered his last great all-exotica LP in the classic early period/style; My Tane (My Man), Cumana, Softly As in a Morning Sunrise, Day Delight, Moonlight on the Ganges, Cherokee, Misirlou, Anna, Song of the Bayou, Moonlight & Shadows, My Shawl, The Girl Friend of the Whirling Dervish
Martin Denny: The Versatile Martin Denny; Liberty LST-7307; 1963; N/N- S $15 -- yes, it's part of his mid-career turn to California jazz, but this one's still exotic, making it desirable to even the strict-exotica collector for several tunes, at least (and if that doesn't make it for you, at least it's bossa); Theme from More (Mondo Cane), Exotique Bossa Nova, Our Day Will Come, Scarlet Mist, The End of the World, Little Boat, Sukiyaki, Quiet Village Bossa Nova, Losing You, Strawberry Tree, Little Bird, Night in Tunisia
Martin Denny: Latin Village; Liberty LST-7378; 1964; N-/N S $30 -- Brasilian & Latin; one of the top later LPs that just doesn't turn up very much, especially not in stereo and top shape; arranged by the great Bob Florence and exotica great Robert Drasnin; Angelito, On Green Dolphin Street, Corcovado, Without You, Ho-Ba-La-La, Something Latin, Manha de Carnaval, Latin Village, The Girl from Ipanema, Malaguena, Sugar Cane, Flying Down to Rio
Martin Denny: Exotica Today; Liberty LST-7465; 1966; N-/N S $20 -- mod/exotica; not often found in stereo top shape, it's arranged by Julius Wechter on a mod theme but with a return to exotica, so it's a keeper; The Shadow of Your Smile, The More I See You, You Don't See My Love, Cloudy Summer Afternoon, Love Me with All Your Heart (Cuando Calienta El Sol), On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever), Strangers in the Night, Lara's Theme from "Doctor Zhivago," A Patch of Blue, You Don't Have to Say You Love Me (Io Che Non Vivo [Senza Te]), Promises, Snowflakes in Summer
Martin Denny: Exotica Classica; Liberty LST-7513; 1967; E/E+ S $15 -- "For Those in Love"; a decent later LP of mod and mushy covers; "Exotic Night" and "Exotica Classica" (reprises Quiet Village!) are the standouts; get this original instead of the unnecessary comps on Sunset; For Lovers, Out Love Will Always Last, Two Loves Have I (J'Ai Deux Amours), The Terry Theme from Limelight, I'll Love You for Ever and Ever, Born Free, Laura, Exotic Night, Sweet September, I Will Wait for You (Umbrellas of Cherbourg Theme), Stella by Starlight, Exotica Classica
Martin Denny: A Taste of India; Liberty LST-7550; E/N S $30 -- with sitar!; his second-most unusual (after Exotic Moog), one of his hardest to find; reworks his all-time best original composition "Hypnotique" but wtih sitar now replacing strings(!); the other sitar picks are "A Taste of India" and a very well-chosen cover of the Strawberry Alarm Clock's smash hit, "Incense & Peppermints" (doesn't get much groovier than that); Indrani, Amy's Theme, It Must Be Him, Hypnotique, A World of Whispers, Incense & Peppermints, Yellow Bird, Tara's Theme, Live for Life, Meditacao (Meditation), One Summer Love, A Touch of India (Pearl of the Sea)
Martin Denny: Exotic Love; Liberty LST-7585; 1968; E+/N S $20 (or cutout E/E+ S $15, specify) -- mod/exotica; nothing wrong with mod standards (David-Bacharach) done Denny style and wrapped in a sultry jacket, but the main reason we bother with this later one (and you should too!) is "Voodoo Love"--a great, swinging original with deep bass and drumbreak--YOU NEED THIS; I Say a Little Prayer, What the World Needs Now is Love, A Beautiful Morning, Love Exotic Style (original!), The Eyes of Love, You Didn't Have to Say You Love Me (lo Che Non Vivo; Senza Te), MacArthur Park, This Guy's in Love w/You, Love is All Around, A Man Without Love, Voodoo Love, The Look of Love
Martin Denny: Exotic Moog; Liberty LST-7621; 1969; [promo] E-/E+ S $60 (or V+/E+ S $50, specify) (or New Zealand import E+/E S $40, specify) -- exotic-pop Moog; his legendary oddball, truly unique & GOOD!!!; despite the mod pop titles, the sound is pure, hip space-electronica or occult-Moog (deep, spacey, moody instrumentals); unlike all other Denny LPs (it's Clark Gassman of "Sunshine & Snowflakes" fame on the Moog, anyway); long considered the rarest and most desirable Martin Denny LP, at least for DJ and avant-garde interest; unprecedented choice of top copies!!!; YOU NEED THIS NOW!!!; Quiet Village; I Talk to the Trees, Yellow Bird, The Enchanted Sea, A Taste of Honey, Delilah, Let Go (Canto de Ossanha), Midnight Cowboy, Cast Your Fate to the Wind, Let it Be Me (Je T'Appartiens), A Taste of Honey, Was It Really Love, Love Me Tonight (All Fine Della Strada)
Martin Denny: From Maui with Love; First American FA-7743; 1980; N/N shrink S $30 (or cutout N-/N- S $25, specify) -- exotica; one of his rarest (distributed primarily at performances, apparently); in addition to new tunes, several of his greatest hits find new inspiration in a piano/trio setting, such as "Quiet Village"; unlike any of his other LPs, it is quite a treat for the Denny collector or completist--now at a lower price; Tiny Bubbles, The Maui Waltz, Return to Paradise, Firecracker, From Maui with Love, Island of Dreams, Raffles', A Taste of Honey, Quiet Village, Aloha I Love You, Lahaina Luna, Blue Paradise
Martin Denny: From Maui with Love; QV MD-408 (same as First American FA-7743; 1980, shown); E+/N S $50 -- the label and the added text "presented by the Wailea Beach Hotel" on the jacket face distinguish this still rarer and perhaps earlier (or at least Hawaii-only) version
Chick Floyd: Hula-La; Liberty LRP-3106; 1958; deep groove spectral E+/E- $20 -- exotica; a great rarity although lately we've been turning it up more (so it goes!); intense stuff (be it exciting exotica, percussion, or top Hawaiian) produced by Martin Denny; three orginals by Chick Floyd (who had a band working out west that sometimes featured Hilo Hattie) and one by Martin Denny; with the Martin Denny Group and Hawaiian all-stars Danny K. Stewart, Pua Almeida, Barney Isaacs, Sonny Kamahele..; Samoan Knife Fight, Hula-La, O Makalapua, Farewell My Tane, There's Still a Lot of Steam in Kilauea, Pukarua, Tahiti Les Tropiques, Late at Night, Nani Waimea, Moon of Manakoora, Aloha I Love You
Chick Floyd: Hula-La; Liberty LST-7106; 1958; 1st/black V+/E- S $25 (or 2nd/deep-groove spectral E-/E S $30, specify) -- exotica; a great rarity although lately we've been turning it up more (so it goes!); intense stuff (be it exciting exotica, percussion, or top Hawaiian) produced by Martin Denny; three orginals by Chick Floyd (who had a band working out west that sometimes featured Hilo Hattie) and one by Martin Denny; with the Martin Denny Group and Hawaiian all-stars Danny K. Stewart, Pua Almeida, Barney Isaacs, Sonny Kamahele..; Samoan Knife Fight, Hula-La, O Makalapua, Farewell My Tane, There's Still a Lot of Steam in Kilauea, Pukarua, Tahiti Les Tropiques, Late at Night, Nani Waimea, Moon of Manakoora, Aloha I Love You
Sondi Sodsai & Hal Johnson: Sondi; Liberty LSP-7110; spectral/second label N-/N S $150 (or E+/V+ S $60, specify) -- exotica "holy grail" (one of the most desirable and hard to get exotica LPs on a major US label) by winsome Thai pop singer who went from the Royal Court of Thailand to Groucho Marx and the Jack Paar TV shows, also studied at UCLA; great Les Baxter/Martin Denny covers but other songs are just as fantastic; we know of no other pop LP by a Thai on a U.S. major label of the period, and it's Martin Denny's most interesting signee/production; Sondi, Rose Rose I Love You, Buddha Knows, China Nights (Shina No Yoru), Siamese Cat Song, Love Dance, Burma Train, [Water] Buffalo Song, Bali Hai, Love is a Many Splendored Thing, Song of India, Sayonara; on lesser copy be prepared for consistent pops (priced accordingly and well worth it)
Martin Denny: Cast Your Fate to the Wind (non-LP version)/The Payoff; N $15 -- one of the few Martin Denny singles with cuts not on any LP or otherwise available (and in the case of "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" we mean THIS version!); it's quite good, swings, and is on thick vinyl; so snap it up!
Martin Denny: Cast Your Fate to the Wind (non-LP version)/The Payoff; Liberty F-55514; promo E+ $15 -- one of the few Martin Denny singles with cuts not on any LP or otherwise available (and in the case of "Cast Your Fate to the Wind" we mean THIS version!); it's quite good, swings, and is on thick vinyl; so snap it up!
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