Lounge Acts



Welcome to the only meaningful association of the word "lounge" with records. Lounge acts are the epitome of the forgettably damned, the original homespun stars from the time before karaoke. Most lounge actors sing with triple the enthusiasm but a third of the talent of regular mediocre singers. They play the piano, organ, or accordion as if Mom, on valium, were channeling something from deceased Uncle Larry's old truck radio. Winsome in their determination (as heard in their own lonely, hotel-bar pathos), they also astound with an acute sense of popular taste. Dredging up and recycling the already tired, lounge acts are the heroic dung beetles of our popular musical heritage.

The true lounge act must be associated with a particular lounge or similar venue, almost always a hotel bar, restaurant, or cruise ship. (A very successful act may have regional standing, but that's halfway to minor stardom.) Usually the venue or act would contract with a small, local record label to press the album for souvenir purposes. The record may never have been exchanged for money, and it may be the only surviving proof of the act's existence. The song appearing on four out of five lounge-act albums, ironically, is "More," theme from the unprovincial film Mondo Cane. ("Can't Take My Eyes Off You" and "Impossible Dream" are other lounge standards.)

While many stars of popular music enjoyed long runs at specific lounges, "lounge act" is mutually exclusive with "recording contract." Recognizable record companies and subsequent albums signify success and minor stardom, or at least its potential. But true success immediately erases all previous lounge-act status. (Frequently the band gets changed, anyway.) Pop stars, no matter how shabby, put forth their own music. Lounge acts are mere phantoms, reflections, always distorted and hazy, as a mirage.

Lounge-act records provide authentic, indelible glimpses into the lower strata of bygone tourist traps. Jackets may be crowded with photos of a "glamourous" hotel or resort sponsoring the artist; here are the driveway, the lobby, the smiling tennis pro, and of course the swimming pool. Solo male lounge acts typically are nerdy, middle-aged men sporting thick, black, square, plastic spectacles. Typical of groups are Italian combos playing "Alley Cat" and "More" for a Mediterranean cruise-ship line. Autographs, often desperately scrawled all over the back in giant marker, may relate an affectionate connection between performer and attendee.

Despite the popularity of solo torch singers, records by solo female lounge acts are scarce. No doubt the nature of the business at this level meant associations with males were more likely to result in a record. Take Ray Anthony's "Bookends," for example. While Ray Anthony is not a lounge act, he deserves honorary lounge-act status for "The Ray Anthony Show." Such shows, or revues, involving unknown guest singers, lesser [Las Vegas] lounges, tacky novelty songs, and just one album or so, qualify as go-nowhere lounge acts even when the headliner otherwise has a career. Similarly, some performers in Hawaiian, calypso, Latin, and other idioms long-associated with tourist bars inevitably qualify as lounge acts.

Buying: The musical rewards of a lounge-act LP rarely surpass the jacket's promise. But since the stake is so minimal, it is wise to go ahead with nearly all.



[Partly] Lounge-Act LPs

Rating
6Yogi Adonaiasis: Getting It Together; Universal Awareness Record Corporation UA-722 (2-LP; lounge act/occult)
3Amatucci Quintet: Cin Cin with the Amatucci Quintet; DRC-62165
7Andy Angel: Get More with Four; Trio-Tex CS-7307 (see also Ford & Angel below)
3Ray Anthony: The New Ray Anthony Show; Capitol ST-1421 (Sahara, Las Vegas)
7Arnie & Chise: The Arnie & Chise Show; (jacket: "Rotsa Ruck" from Arnie & Chise)
6Jack Banan: The Many Facets of Jack Banan--Recorded live at the Fields' Colony Beach Club on Longboat Key, Sarasota, Florida; Art ALP-65 (respectable piano-led instrumentals in side-long medley form)
6Joe Barone & Lily Ann Carol: Danny Columbo Presents Joe Barone & Lily Ann Carol; Amulet A-300 (w/breakbeat; ex-Louie Prima vocalist; rec. live at Jupiter's, Long Island)
7Freddie Bell, Roberta Linn, & the Bellboys: The Bells are Swinging; 20th Century Fox TFS-4146/TFM-3146; 1964 (live at the Sahara; arr. & cond. Don Hannah)
7The Bobee Jo Trio [at the Casbah]; Casbah DM-84548 (custom; bongo-bop/vibes/rock)
6The Al Bruno Quintet Volume One; Century 33443 (custom; mod piano jazz/Latin jazz)
7Ray Charles: "Mr. Music"; Pike's Peak 1920 (organ; no, not THE Ray Charles!)
7The Chessmen: First Move; Pickin' Post NR-8405 (disco, funk, C&W; Wild Cherry & two K.C. & the Sunshine Band covers!)
6Johnny Coco: The Exotic Sounds of the Hawaii Kai; Columbia CS-2329 (Hawaiian/Polynesian/exotica/lounge act)
6Pat Collins (the hip hypnotist): Sleep with Pat Collins!; GNP Crescendo GNP-93
6Miss Pat Collins (the hip hypnotist): Turn On [The Power of the Mind--Songs & Self Suggestions]; Warner Bros. WS-1721
7Lou Colombo & Dick Johnson featuring Dave McKenna "The Magnificent Seven": An Evening at Johnny Yee's; Rik Tinory RFT-1001 (mod soul jazz at a tiki Chinese restaurant, Cape Cod)
8The Conti Family; Sounds of America CF-3219 (The Conti Kids: "Little Bongo Boy")
8The Conti Family; Sounds of America CF-3220 (The Conti Kids: "Hey Boogie Mama")
4The Conti Family: Family Power; Seabird KM-2387 (reissued w/different liners & jacket photo as The Conti Family; Seabird [no #])
9The Continental III: Just for You; Baldwin CS-8229; 1978 (terrific cover of "Brick House")
4The [Fabulous] Continentals Live at the Grain Bin; NR-4156 (live)
4The Bob Crosby Show; Columbia CL-766 (TV show)
3Liz Damon's Orient Express; Cartan Tours CT-10178 (Hilton Hawaiian Village)
6Billy Daniels at the Stardust, Las Vegas; MGM E-3762 (covers "The Beat Generation" & "Temptation")
6The Fabulous Echoes: Breakin' It Up at Dukes!; Warner Bros. WS-1695 (live in Hawaii)
9Umberto Firpo & M/S Victoria Orchestra: Souvenir of M/S Victoria; Victoria V-61 (great!)
3The Flying Dutchman--One Man Band Show; [no label] LP-102576 (live)
7The Four Bees (4Bs) w/Aidan McNally & his Aidanaires: A Taste of Honey; Edmar ELP-1036 (lounge act/exotica/calypso/odd pop)
7Frank Ford & Andy Angel: The Music Side of Ford & Angel; Baldwin CS-7803; 1974 (PA)
7Ford & Angel: You Can't Have Everything!; Montagne CS-8202; 1977 (features the Wersi Bass Synthesizer; super, stone-funky Moog cover of Herbie Hancock's jazz-funk classic "Chameleon"; orange label is original, reissued in black)
5Formica & the Favolosi; DRC-12072 (cruise-ship souvenir notable for "Pipeline" cover)
7Wayne & Marin Foster: To-Get-It Together; Happynest SLP-007 (lounge act/funk/Mexicali/kid funk/Christmas)
6Jim Friedman "Live"; JF Records DM-81894 (jazz, piano; Reading, PA)
7The G-Clefs on Stage; Spotlite Enterprise [no #]; 1968 (lounge act/soul/funk; live at the Beachball)
3Victor Gerard & his Orchestra/Hip City Five: Arthur Murray Presents Discotheque Dance Party; RCA Victor LSP-2998; 1964
5Rae Girard: The Music of Rae Girard at the Tail of the Fox; Panda (Mount Royal Hotel, Baltimore)
7Jon Hall Brings Music from Hawaii; Mercury (uncredited live lounge act/Hawaiian/exotica/Tahitian "Minoi Minoi E"; abridged as Mercury Wing SRW-12510)
5Walt Harper Live at the Attic; Birmingham BI-1570 (soul-jazz organ; Pittsburgh; notes by Chico Hamilton)
2Don Hayes: A Fun Evening with Don Hayes at his Special Baldwin Organ & Piano; Art ALP-63-S (Mark 2100 Motel, Fort Lauderdale)
6Ken Henderson: Tiki Room; Fredlo 7216-LPS (live; sounds like a cruise-ship calypsonian who talk-sings; nice for Tiki Room jacket)
6King Henry & the Showmen featuring Diane Faye: An Evening at the Forest House; Eclipse EC-4441 (lounge act in NYC tri-state area)
King Henry & the Showmen: [Vols. 2-5]
5King Henry & the Showmen: Volume 6; KHP 673
King Henry & the Showmen: [Vol. 7]
6King Henry & the Showmen Vol. VIII; KHP 376 (in Easton, PA; spy/Moog-ondioline/disco/trucker/novelty)
6King Henry & the American Show Band; KHP 581; 1981 (Jacket: "New York, New York")
5Ray Herrera: Her Ray Herrera; Sims 124 (Latin)
5The Hi-Lo's Combo: A Night with; United Audio 11221 (live)
6The Hi-Notes Live at the Winners Circle Lounge, Laurel, Maryland; NR-2729 (live; 2 guys named Bob--funky drums & organ--do Santana, CCR, Bill Withers..)
5Benny Hipsley: Presenting Benny Hipsley Live; Gateway GSLP-9023 (at the Desert Hotel; organ, but better for the comedy interludes)
7The J Squad; Local Records 9364 (demo/private press; Richard Frye, piano; Ron Barnes, bass; Wyman Hawkins, drums)
7Hank Juray Quartet w/Lynn Thomas & Arnold Dee: A Happening at Cinelli's; Cougar ST-1000
7The Kaplan Brothers; Kap [no #]
7Jackie Lee: My Little Corner of the World; Jay-Cat JCSL-5287 ("Mr. Hot Piano"; live one-man show)
8The Mark Lewis Trio ["Works Hard and Plays Well"]; C&M LPS-1001 (lounge act/breakbeats/funk/funky rock/soul jazz; note: jacket number may be incorrect--it's NOT LPS-1000)
6The Lyrics: in Velvet; Velvet LP-62630 (Philadelphia)
5The Lyrics: Live at the OBL Towne Club; Molly Records V-1/9875 (disco era)
3Maiorani 5; DRC-3179
7The Malibu's [Play]; Scenic EAB-101574; 1974 (Maine country-rock quartet covers Wipe Out, Proud Mary, Bad Bad Leroy Brown, Runaway..)
6John Malo: Blue's Hawaii; Jeree NR-13268; 1981 ("Quiet Village"; reissued w/plain jacket face for Conley Inn as John Malo's Hawaii starring Blue Pau)
6Mark III: Dig! The Mark III; Nightowl 1045 (lounge act/soul-jazz organ trio; self-produced; jacket: "Swinging Free with the Mark III"; covers Freddie Roach's "Brown Sugar")
7Woody Martens: The Wild and Mild Sides of Woody Martens; Art ALP-46 (live Hammond; Florida lounge act)
7Mary and the Maoris [at Nassau Beach Hotel]; The Gramophone Co. SSLX-331; 1969 (UK; Maori, lounge act, funk-soul!)
7Al McLaughlin [Quartet]: Cruisin' with Al; [LP] 936 (cruise ship act; funk: "Pick Up the Pieces" and "Chameleon")
7Aidan McNally & his Aidanaires at the Bermudiana Hotel; Edmar ELP-1037 (exotica/calypso/lounge act/odd pop)
4The Mel-O-Dee Aces [Sounds of Music by the]; Jay Berger 1117 (Allentown, PA)
5The Mel-O-Dee Aces: Feelings; Helfrich Recording Labs ST-333
6Bobby Mercer Road Show: Show Time; BM-1375
6Bobby Mercer Road Show: The Big Sound of the BMRS; BMRS-5176
6The Sandro Merlini Quintet: A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening; Sunway 9915 (c. 1967; cruise-ship lounge act; Australian/Italian/exotica)
5Dick Merrick: The Songs of Dick Merrick with Jerry Carretta & his Orchestra; Artrex (Cotillion Room of the Beau Rivage, Miami Beach, FL)
7Miko Live at Riviera; Denon JDX-99 (Japan; covers "Theme from Shaft")
7Frank Mingis: The Silver Fox [Plays the Hammond]; Barclay LP-1025 (Pennsylvania; funky drums/breaks by ex-Billy Haley/Comets drummer Ralph Jones)
6Rick Morano at the Top of the Marq; Eric DM-68442 (NJ; Hammond)
6Jesus Moreno Band; Royal Caribbean Cruise Line LP-501 (good only for "La China" a.k.a. "Mi China"--hip cha cha cha)
7Museum: Gonna Take Forever; TKO Productions STLP-1001; 1979 (lounge act/funky rock ("Funky Too")/disco (whole side of BeeGees covers)/breakbeats; Pennsylvania)
7The Onstage Majority; OSM 43333 (lounge act/funky rock/funk/breakbeats; Illinois)
7Nino Palermo & his Serenaders; Philips 111.062.Y (lounge act/twist/Italian)
6Ernie Palumbo Sings the Songs [Live from his Bucks County Supper Club]; Ernie Palumbo's EP-102 (live, PA)
5Hugo Pedell Orchestra: The Best of Don Gibson's Holiday Island Revue; GG 1; (calypso/lounge act show; Hugo Pedell Orchestra dir. George Cort, James Gregory; Gene & Pinky Steede, Dudley Browne, June Caisey, Bill Caisey, Eugene Ming, Sally Neal)
5The Real Things: Mother Likes It!; RFD 2682; 1972 (pop organ; breakbeat; on jacket # is 2681)
6Larry Rivera: Love & Aloha; Coco Palms LPS-1265; 1964 (1st LP; w/Johnny Kaleiohi)
6Larry Rivera: For You a Lei; Coco Palms LPS-714 (2nd LP; w/the Island-Aires)
6Larry Rivera & the Kahili Boys: A Nite Cap with Larry--Featuring the voice of Larry Rivera at the Coco Palms Hotel; Coco Palms LPS-2867
6Larry Rivera: Return to Hawaii with the Songs of Larry Rivera; Coco Palms LPS-1030
6Larry Rivera: Hawaii Belongs to Everyone; Coco Palms 55555 (arr. Don Ralke)
6The Rock-afire Explosion: Gee, Our First Album!; Creative SD-82-1; 1982 (mechanical rock band; Orlando Florida's Showbiz Pizza Place)
7Jay Samuel; Queen Village Recording Studios SU-1/2 (bad!; "Brother Louie")
4Vic Scaccia: Move Easy with Vic Scaccia; Coin LPM-2000
6Tony Smith & the Aristocrats: Maharajah Man; De Tone DT-2901; 1974 ("featured at Fred Allewgretti's 4 Horsemen Lounge," Chicago; exotic rock)
6Society of Seven: Flashback; Silver Sword Audio; LP-7008; 1973 (Outrigger Hotel, Waikiki; one of Hawaii's longest-enduring acts)
5Society of Seven: Our Hawaii; Silver Sword Audio; LP-7009; 1973
6Society of Seven: S.O.S. Fever; Makaha MS-5001 (live)
4Lee Sohn (at the Place Pigalle, with Don Ippolito's Orchestra & the Don Muller Chorus); Ridge LP-1001 (Miami Beach)
7Gene & Pinky Steede: Step Through a Moongate with Gene & Pinky Steede; GG-2 (calypso/torch/lounge act; Hugo Pedell Orchestra dir. George Cort, James Gregory; prod. Don Gibson)
4Gene & Pinky Steede: You're Gonna Hear from Us; BDA 6710 (lounge act/calypso)
7The Swinging Ambassadors [Play Your Requests]; Audio by De Vir, Inx. AbD-9
8Taste of Honey (By Special Request); Recorded Publications Company [no #]; 1975 (lounge act/funk/disco; vanity-published wonder w/fantastic rare break(s); whitebread covers of "Lady Marmalade," "Me & Baby Brother")
6The Tokyo Happy Coats Live; King KS-1096
6The Versatells: Sounds of the Versatells; Shannon LSP-101 (Vidalia, GA)
6Cherry Wainer: Showtime in Your Club; CK 1237 (organ w/"Mr. Percussion" Don Storer)
7Your Kind of People: Live at the Marriott; Audio Engineering Associates [no #]; 1975 (lounge act/funk/funky rock/breakbeats; Los Angeles)
6The Zaras: S.R.O. in Las Vegas; ATA PM-1080 (Spanish group covers Sly & Family Stone, etc. w/breakbeats)
3[Uncredited]: Holiday for Two; Custom LP-021 (rare!; good for cover of Superfly)


Lounge-Act 45s

Rating
7C.C. Review: I Feel Like Making Love/Elijah; C.C. Review CC-1 ("Cabaret Corp."--soul-jazz vocal/lounge act)
7C.C. Review: Compared to What/Fly High; C.C. Review CC-2 ("Cabaret Corp."--soul jazz/lounge act)
6Tokyo Happy Coats: Harlem Nocturne/Forevermore "Kinito Itsmademo"; King 45-6296


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