Cool and Strange Music Vol. 2 #1

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Hey there groovy girls and guys, it’s time for our first Cool and Strange Music for the year 2005. And wow! Do I have some winners lined up for you folks.

First off, I know you are all still probably hung over from the King George Coronation party — what a blast that was, wasn’t it? And what a packed house. I don’t think I’ve spun that many disco records for fat old drunk Republicans and their paid girlfriends since Pappy’s “Kick the crap outta the Iraqis party” in 1991.

By the way, isn’t it so cool that George W. could take out Saddam Hussein for his dad? I wish I could do something cool like that for my dad. I’ll bet Jenna gets Osama bin Laden for her dad someday too! May the circle be unbroken, by and by Lord, by and by.

But heck enough about the good old days. Up first today I want to introduce you to a CD that will find it’s way on your player for the next three or four elections! Jeb Bush, I hear ya knocking!

Elgar: Pomp and Circumstance Marches Op. 39; Enigma Variations Op. 36
Price: $3.98

Do not let the $3.98 price tag fool you this is one of the best cool music CD bargains of the year. This CD could sell for $19 dollars and still be a good deal. You’ve already been fooled enough by the 2004 elections. But good old Mike is here — and I promised that I would dig you up some of the deals of the century in my last Cool and Strange Music article at the end of last year. And here is the first!

This CD provides the best Pomp and Circumstance that only the London Philharmonic Orchestra could possibly provide. Not only is the sound quality the best, the musicianship is superb! And don’t think the $3.98 price tag means a short album! No siree! This is a full 21-track album of some of the best performances you could buy at any price. The warmth and excitement with which the London Symphony Orchestra (no slouchy establishment, needless to say) interprets and delivers Elgar’s lavish compositions is amazing. The stereo separation of the instruments simulates sitting on the front row of an orchestra hall nearly perfectly, and the sound is crisp and clear. And at this price, how could you possibly go wrong?

If you have yet to experience Sir Edward Elgar’s works and you enjoy orchestral music, do yourself a favor and purchase this album. You’ll be rewarded with Elgar’s charming, passionate creations. His variations are at times both full-bodied and delicate, forceful and kind, clever and affectionate, as each variation is crafted after and dedicated for one of Elgar’s acquaintances.

And don’t forget the Pomp and Circumstances Marches! Those alone are worth the price of admission!

Judy Garland: Judy In Love & Alone by Judy Garland
Price: $16.98

This is a marvelous Judy Garland CD featuring two of Judy’s best albums on one. Alone was first released in 1957 and this CD is not in stereo. But why should it be? It wasn’t recorded in stereo in the first place. If you want quality sound the way it was originally made, then this is the CD for you.

Judy in Love was released in 1958 and was her very first stereo album recorded for Capitol Records. It features Nelson Riddle and his orchestra backing up Judy. There are also a couple of renditions of Cole Porter songs done as only Judy Garland could do.

The company that re-released this fine CD, S&P, has done a great job with the sound quality. It is very good throughout, and it comes with a good, small fold out booklet inside. Complete with the original cover art for both albums, as well the original liner notes. A quite nicely done reissue to CD. Highly Recommended.

Ultra-Lounge, Vol. 1: Mondo Exotica
List Price: $11.98 On sale now for $10.99

This CD is the first and by far the best in the Ultra Lounge series, because it contains so much authentic exotica and less Ultra Lounge — you know the kitsch that was big among Hollywood weirdoes in the mid-1990’s. This is the ultimate in mood music influenced by the traditional music of far away, exotic lands. The music goes from light jazz “Voodoo” to the very cool, but a bit mystic, “Bali H’ai” to exotica erotica “Moon Mist,” with a few novelty stereo spectaculars thrown in and ending with an original African folk song about how the lions sleep tonight (and every night for that matter I suppose). This CD is a must for backyard BBQ’s, pool parties, and for remembering a time when America was a prosperous country. This CD is the ultimate for a time trip back to the cool days of the Golden period of the American 1960’s. Be forewarned though, this CD does not come with sticks or instructions on back-yard Limbo dancing. You’ll have to provide those for yourself.

This CD is essential if you own a pool, give a lot of cocktail parties, or you just enjoy dreaming of far-away places.

Ultra-Lounge, Vol. 4: Bachelor Pad Royale
List Price: $11.98 On sale now for: $10.99

Well stir up a martini for yourself and make the lady whatever she wants. This is the CD that will spice up any romantic evening. This collection of cool, swingin’ instrumentals makes use of organs, trumpets, saxophones, pianos, and even the occasional “ooh wah ooh wah” for an unforgettable mix of tunes suitable for the wolf or wolfette in a zoot-suit and on the prowl. From the very first track on this winning CD the underlying message is sex-appeal (even if the owner of the CD has none). Ultra-Lounge Bachelor Pad Royale can help even the most inept host to look like Donald Trump as the CD booklet includes recipes for all sorts of cocktails and bar drinks, as well as measurement & glassware tips. No! The martinis are not to be poured into a pitcher or a 7-11 plastic tumbler!

This Ultra-Lounge Bachelor Pad Royale is a must-have mix of cocktail music for the ultra cool bachelor or bachelorette. Eighteen tracks that will put you into the cool 1950’s and 1960’s and make you the King of the Whistling Wolves.

Buddha-Lounge — Various Artists
Price: $16.98

Yes sir. Yes madam. I understand completely, the previous nights drink and dance have left you feeling the need to refresh. It is understandable. Come, sit in a comfortable lotus position, as the rays of the sun bask and bathe your battered body and mind. You have entered the Buddha Lounge. It is a place of physical and spiritual rejuvenation. The exotic beach resort place for the soul. Would you like some refreshments? Orange Juice or Jasmine tea is highly recommended on the menu. And now for your relaxation pleasure and to take you into your dreamworld of sleepy mitigation here are the sounds of the Buddha Lounge.

The Buddha Lounge is not boring healing music. It is cool. This record is a hit sensation in Europe and features a perfectly sequenced list of songs from international and world beats new-music favorites. Just relax and soon your mind and body will be awash with multi-cultural grooves, vocals, and world-trance rhythms. The Buddha Lounge is the happening place that makes you feel so good. And once you have the CD, admission is free.

If you wish to have the foot massage also, please dial the front desk.

Classic Sinatra [Original Recording Remastered] — Frank Sinatra
List Price: $17.98 On sale now: $9.99

Oh! It is so good to see you looking so refreshed. You must have been to the Buddha Lounge. But now you wish to take a night out on the town? Yes, we have many great shows in town tonight. May I recommend just a few? First there is the greatest crooner of the 20th century appearing live in your living room in the masterful 20-song collection of Classic Sinatra. But this is not Sinatra like you have heard him before, all of these standard classics have been lovingly remastered to give you full and complete listening pleasure. The sound quality is so good on this CD that you will close your eyes and feel like Frank is singing to you and you only. But beware, Saheeb, your lady friend may just fall in love — And perhaps not with you.

This CD is dynamite and can possess all the magical qualities of love. Just make sure you use it wisely and handle your lady friend with extra-special care.

Dino: The Essential Dean Martin — Dean Martin
List Price: $18.98 On sale now: $9.99

Ah! I understand. You haven’t quite worked up the courage to pop that certain question. Not just yet. I know, I’ve been there, my friend. What you need is a lighter, more enjoyable evening where the two of you can laugh and sing. I have just the thing. Tickets for two to see one of the members of the famed “Rat Pack.” Oh no, my friend. The Rat Pack are not what they seem. The king of the Rat Pack, Dean Martin, has a razor sharp wit and his singing is more than sublime and he defines the word “cool."

You may remember those breezy hits, “That’s Amore,” or “Volare”? Yes, that’s Dino. And did you know that Dean Martin knocked the Beatles out of the top chart spot with his 1967 hit, “Everybody Loves Somebody”? Yes, indeed. For a wonderful evening listening to a man with a smooth, gorgeous voice that never loses a touch of humor, this is the CD for you. You’ll find yourself smiling and singing with these uplifting songs. Dean Martin is the ultimate king of easy listening.

A Boy Named Charlie Brown — Vince Guaraldi
Price: $19.98

So what will you do with the children while you and the lady are hitting the town with your martinis and wine? Well, everybody has heard the piano theme song from the 1960’s Peanuts TV show, right? Well, a little birdie that just passed by told me that a guy named Vince Guaraldi wrote and performed that song. And guess what? It’s not called, “Peanuts,” or “Snoopy,” or “Charlie Brown”! The name of the famous song that everyone knows (but no-one knew the name of) is called “Linus and Lucy.” And I have finally found it! I’m not kidding when I say that I’ve been trying to track this down since the late 1980’s but I finally found it. Here it is. Your kids will love it — Heck, we all will love it. Perfect relaxing and even party music. Stop! Listen for a moment. It’s in your head right now. Listen. Can you hear it? Sounds great doesn’t it?… Well, it might sound better if you weren’t so off key.

You will dig this CD big time. The sound quality is absolutely superb. It’s like having Schroeder playing in your very own living room!

Doob Doob O’ Rama, Vol. 2: More Filmsongs from Bollywood Various Artists
Price: $17.08

Okay, so you and the missus don’t want to leave the kids at the resort hotel. They want to check out the city with all its excitement, the little markets, rickshaws, and elephants hanging around too. Who can blame them? My kids loved going out to ride the elephants and feeding them bananas! So what to do? Well repeat after me: “Doob Doob O’ Rama” and the magical door to Indian film music will open.

Now I know a lot of you folks are thinking, “What!? Indian film music?” Because that’s what I thought too, until I heard this CD. And let me tell you that this music is way cool. It features the biggest hit song in the history of India: “My name is Chin Chin Chu.” That is about as catchy a song that’s ever been made. Trust me here, I know what I’m talking about. And what also makes this music very cool-ish-ious is that most of these songs were made in the 1960’s. Now think about it, could there possibly be any other record that is more kitsch than 1960’s Indian Pop? Bet you a bowl of curry and rice there isn’t. But don’t let that 1960 date-tag fool ya. Because the music was made in the 1960’s that makes it even better! Think “Spy Music” sound from the 1960’s and you might get the picture. The singing is strikingly rich and beautiful, and will have you singing along without having a clue what the words are. The booklet is great and full of pictures from the movies these songs were taken from. Heck, the jacket is worth the price of the CD. Look at that jacket art again. Is that cool, or what?

Oh yes, my good friend. This is a bery, bery good CD. You will like all 21 songs so good like I do. I’m sure.

The World Of Nat King Cole — Nat King Cole
List Price: $18.98 On sale now: $9.99

This 28 track CD was released in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Nat King Cole’s death in 1965, Produced with the blessing of his estate, this disc is a thorough survey of his timeless genius — all recorded on the Capitol label. It is an amazing collection by an amazing artist who never goes out of style. And this CD has all of Nat King Cole’s hits! It includes some jazz from the Nat King Cole Trio, all the smash hits, and even the manufactured “Unforgettable” duet with daughter Natalie — which, in my opinion, is the only song that is not necessary. Besides that, this is the only Nat King Cole CD you’ll ever need. What a beautiful tenor voice! There will never be another like Nat King Cole. Get this CD while you can.

Legendary Bobby Darin — Bobby Darin
List Price: $18.98 On sale now: $9.99

Okay, well, Bobby Darin is cool. I don’t know what to think about Kevin Spacey though. I had to sit through a bit of that “Beyond The Sea” and watch Kevin Spacey play Kevin Spacey while attempting to look like Bobby Darin. Everyone who saw that movie who thought it was lame, raise your right hand. Yep, that’s just about everyone.

But don’t be fooled by Kevin Spacey’s crappy acting. That was Kevin Spacey and not Bobby Darin. Bobby Darin can belt them out with the best of them. Lookout Rat Pack! Bobby Darin’s masterful phrasing and extremely cool sense of rhythm makes Frank and Dean tremble — er, I mean if they were sober. This CD has it all by Bobby, not to mention his always present full and vibrant orchestration!

Buy this CD and hear why Bobby Darin is the real Mack the Knife.

Birth of the Cool [Original Recording Remastered] — Miles Davis
List Price: $11.98 On sale now: $9.99

It’s Miles Davis so what can I say that already hasn’t been said about the guy? Oh! I met him one time. Nice guy. Miles Davis used to play for Charlie Parker and there he made his reputation as one of jazz music’s biggest names. He hooked up with Gil Evans and surprised everyone when he came out with his own brand of “cool.” And, man, is this CD ever cool! Just one look at the jacket design and you know you got yourself one hot piece of wax.

This is the definitive Miles Davis CD. The sound quality is excellent. It also features some bootleg tracks that, aside from the drop in sound quality, show you some mighty fine jazz virtuoso playing by the man who started the cool jazz scene.

Listen to this CD and you will see why Miles Davis has withstood the test of time. And at $9.99 the price cannot be beat.

Well, that’s it for today’s edition of Cool and Strange Music. Some might find it a bit odd that I added the Bobby Darin CD to the list, but after watching Kevin Spacey, I figured I’d better tell you folks to buy the original and not the movie soundtrack. Let’s face it: The originals are always better than the covers. Wait a minute! Maybe there has been a cover version that was better than the original! Let me think!… Nope, there hasn’t. Forget about it. The movie soundtracks are just about always over-produced and shallow. The original artists made the songs with their heart and soul. Guys like Kevin Spacey make crummy movies so they can afford the payments on their new car.

Well, that’s all for today. Grab these CDs while you can and while they are on sale!

Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers [send him mail] was born and raised in the USA and moved to Japan in 1984. He has worked as an independent writer, producer, and personality in the mass media for nearly 30 years.

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