Welcome back once again to another edition of Cool and Strange Music. The world’s only music article that will actually help you to live a better life through cooler music. Now I received a lot of e-mail about last month’s issue complaining that I introduced too many famous artists — no one complained that they weren’t cool — just that they were too famous.
Okay. Perhaps. So today I’ve lined up a sort of “world-tour” of music that will just be a “gas” at your next party! (Do you young folks still say, “gas”?) Some of these artists are famous, some sort-a famous, and some I’m sure you’ve never heard of — But they are all very, very cool and some very, very strange.
I also want to let you cool cats know that it would be wise to order every single CD that I recommend — every article — if you truly want to expand your horizons and really become a wizard of tonality. Why? Because very soon, I am going to cash in on this vast knowledge of musical mirth and put all this info into a book that is actually sold for money! That’s right, some smart publisher wants to get in on the action and they’ve got the ear (as well as the printing presses) to make these groove tunes into a sort of “Dictionary of Cool and Strange Music…" Personally I vied for the title of “Cool and Strange Music Bible” but, well, there’s a little question of who is paying for the printing.
But until then, Lew Rockwell, has asked me to provide this service for all you groovy girls and guys for free! So dig it, if you can!
Go to my archives and order every cool CD I’ve ever recommended while they are still listed.
- Cool and Strange Music
- Cool and Strange Music — Part Two
- Cool and Strange Music — Part Three
- Cool and Strange Music — Part Four
- Cool and Strange Music — Vol. 2 #1
The Very Best of Doc Severinsen — Doc Severinsen
List Price: $15.98 On sale now for: $14.99
First up, the king of late night TV, Johnny Carson, is gone, but you can relive some of those great memories with this fantastic slab of Jazz on wax. This album was recorded at Doc Severinsen’s peak and it showcases just how really amazing and awesome the Tonight Show Band really was — nothing like these poor imitations that they have on late night TV now-a-days.
Doc displays his incredible talents on this CD with a wide selection of Jazz and Big Band standards like “Begin the Beguine," “In the Mood," “Honeysuckle Rose," and of course, you get Johnny’s Theme (The Tonight Show Theme). 16 songs in all. Mighty fine musicianship throughout.
Definitive Hits Herb Alpert
List Price: $13.98 On sale now for: $12.99
If you like a bit more of a Pop-flavor to your trumpet sounds — and you dig the swinging Sixties — then you just have to get this CD. Alpert and his Tijuana Brass scored five top-20 hits between 1962 (when “The Lonely Bull” climbed to No. 11 in the U.S.) and 1968 (when “This Guy’s in Love with You” cracked the top 10), racking up five No. 1 albums over the same period. This CD is just perfect for a light evening’s entertainment for the two of you or great background music when you are barbecuing with the kids or the neighbors. It also makes for some very rad driving music… Especially Tijuana Taxi. Now who wouldn’t like to hear that song again? And again, and again?
Now the kids into Hip Hop probably won’t want to listen to this at first, so how do you get them to pay attention? Well, you say, “I like this trumpet… I hear some famous Hip Hop artist is going to sample this track… Should be a huge hit.” That’ll get their attention.
Actually, I do dig this CD big time — and I do wonder why these Hip Hop artists have not sampled this? Oh, but they will. You’ll see. And it will be a big hit… But never as good as the original.
Boots — Nancy Sinatra
List Price: $13.98
This is a 1995 reissue of Nancy Sinatra’s 1966 debut record. So get one while they last. It also features the artwork of the original album and, man, is Nancy Sinatra ever HOT! Check out those big, er,… Boots!
Well, guys, don’t stare at that CD jacket for too long or your eyes just may fall out of their sockets and you’ll need those eyes to check out the list of fab cover that this album has to offer. You get Nancy doing the Beatles “Day Tripper," The Rolling Stones’ “As Tears Go By," and Bob Dylan’s timeless classic “It Ain’t Me Babe.”
Of course you get Nancy’s monster hit, “These Boots are Made for Walkin'” — in fact you get two versions! The original mono version as well as an excellent sounding super hi-fi stereo remix.
In case you are worried that the teenagers won’t like it, just let them know that the coolest dance music label in the UK, Ninja Tunes, have remixed this song and it was a huge hit in England last year.
Okay, now you can take another long look at that CD jacket. Is that very cool, or what?
Van Lear Rose — Loretta Lynn
List Price: $13.98 On sale now for $10.99
“What!? Now Mike’s really gone off the deep end!” I can hear you say. But face facts, Loretta Lynn is the all-time queen of Country music. That’s an undeniable fact, my friends.
Now people who know their stuff, won’t argue with me on that point, I’m sure. So what makes this record so special? Well, there is this new Rock group called The White Stripes, and they are the big thing now-a-days. Their vocalist and lead-guitarist is a guy named Jack White. So what’s the connection? Jack White produced this album by honky-tonk legend Loretta Lynn.
A Garage-rocker teaming up with Country music’s Honky Tonk sweetheart? Now you’ve seen everything! And guess what? This record is hot! For the first time ever, Loretta Lynn has written all the songs on her album and her lyrics are as beautiful and brilliant as ever. Talk about a woman’s angst! On one song, “Family Tree,” she brings her small children and babies to the home of her husband’s mistress, so that they can see the “woman that’s burning down our family tree.” Oh, that’s just gives me chills. But is it ever a great song!
Throughout the record, it’s classic Loretta Lynn: Love gone bad, drinkin’, cheatin’, back-stabbing, and even murder in the heat of passion.
Two worlds collide on this masterful piece of work. The rock kids will get into it and the old folk can see what makes today’s young-uns tick… Er, I mean Rock and Honky Tonk. Five stars.
Svezia,Inferno E Paradiso Import — Piero Umiliani
List Price: $22.99
This is the soundtrack from a 1968 documentary about the moral decay of Sweden. It fits right in with any folks who dig 1960’s kitsch or Spy music. It also is the best background music for riding a Vespa around in Paris or Rome — without a helmet. This is one of the most interesting and unusual Easy Listening — European Lounge albums I own.
Imagine 1960’s Italian TV when they have a car chase scene and the bad guys (who are actually the heroes of the movie) outsmart the policia and get away scot-free. The music is cute and the girls and guys are singing the super-hit, “Mah-na, mah-na, la da, dee dee da. Mah-na, mah-na, la da, dee da. Mah-na, mah-na, la da, dee dee da. Da dee da, da dee da, la dee da da da da da da…”
Every song is a snapshot of European sixties cool. Check out these track titles: “Photo Models," “Topless Party," or “Beer, Vermouth & Gin” — Children who watch Sesame Street will love this CD too as the hit, “Mah Na, Mah Na” is regular airplay on that show as well as many other TV commercials. This album also features Gato Barbieri on sax.
Paris Under A Groove — Vol. 1 [Original Recording Remastered] — Various Artists
List Price: $18.98 On sale now for: $13.99
Bonjour monsieur and mademoiselle. Would you like dinner or would you enjoy a cocktail in our Parisian Lounge? Ah, wise choice. This way please. Would you like to sit at the bar or would you like a booth? But of course, silly me, you wish to be alone. Garcon! A quiet booth for Mr. and Mrs…. Oh? Excuse me. You two are not yet married!? Such a lovely couple as you, and you are not yet married? Ah, I understand. You have only just met and you wish to see more of Paris: The open-air coffee shops, the sentimental old architecture, the fashionable people, as well as the stylish life. Well, of course. Here you are. Tonight our in-house entertainment is being provided by Paris Under A Groove — We also refer to them as the Artistes Stylistique.
Sounds like a fun place to go, doesn’t it? Well, let this CD take you there. It is a very romantic and sexy mixture of mellow electronic jazz, funk and soul. And while you two were listening to the mellow groove and gazing at Paris — or into each other’s eyes, another, perhaps much more interesting feeling has taken you over. A feeling that may require some more, shall we say, intimate conversation?
This compilation offers a look at the Parisian Electronica scene by showcasing these 10 artists from France that are generating a buzz in the clubs, lounges and on cutting edge radio in Europe. Paris Under A Groove offers up 73 minutes of various Electronica styles.
Apropa’t — Savath & Savalas
List Price: $16.98
This CD is another true keeper for the stylish at heart. It is modern, yet quite tastefully done, music perfect for background at cocktail parties, friendly get-togethers, or just straight up at higher volume for a relaxing after-hours groove. This music falls under the category of Electronic Jazz music, but it is just as beautiful as any symphony or Big Band arrangement you’ll ever hear. Put this CD on and you’ll see why Savath & Savalas is turning heads all over Europe. This is one artist that is making brand new sounds that hit all the right buttons.
Your kids who are into Hip Hop will also be floored by this incredibly cool and beautiful take on today’s music that adults will just love too. I have never met anyone who wasn’t impressed by every tune on this fine CD. Can’t miss. Five and one half stars!
The Exciting Sounds of Martin Denny: Exotica/Exotica, Vol. I & II
List Price: $16.98
Exotica and Lounge music are two of the most fantastic types of music you’ll ever hear. The music forces the listener to imagine far-away places and is quite an experience for visualizing sounds. The unchallenged master of Exotica is Martin Denny. This is both of his Exotica albums on one CD, so it is a steal at $16.98. But don’t believe me. Read what author James Michener — the author of Tales From the South Pacific — has to say about Martin Denny:
“In Waikiki, where I live whenever I get the chance, a bistro known as the Daggar Bar and its accompanying Bora Bora Lounge has for sometime been the mecca of people who enjoy a new type of music. I’m one of the gang that gathers there to hear the fresh, clean tropical sounds of Martin Denny and his group.
“Why do I go for Denny’s type of music? It’s professional, and very expertly put together for the public. It’s new, for it uses instruments and rhythms not usually found in modern popular music. It’s witty, and much to the taste of people who like a little humor for the long haul.
“But in my case, I like it particularly because it reminds me of places I’ve been, and sounds I’ve loved. It’s really very exciting to see the Denny group perform in Hawaii. The great brass gongs, the Asian instruments (whose names I can never remember), the tropical setting, and the proficiency of the performers make the music a delight for the late wanderer.
“This is music to see — and on this record there are many new sounds that will force the listener to create his own word pictures. It’s music to feel — and Denny is careful to provide in his orchestrations the specific sound of things banging into other things, or scraping across them, or being struck by a human hand.
“As you can see, I get a charge out of my friend’s music, and this record is a new departure in that for the first time Denny utilizes voices and strings to augment his mood.
“This ‘blurb’ is different from many that you read these days — I’m not getting paid a nickel for it… I just happen to like the music that comes with the package, and I think you will too.”
The Spacesound Effect — Stereophonic Space Sound Unlimited
List Price: $13.98
From somewhere deep in the underground of Zurich Switzerland, Ernest Maeschi & Karen Diblitz take “old fashioned” electronics, mix them up in a state-of-the-art studio and create the ultimate in grooving Sixty-ish Spy and Space music. Imagine James Bond in Star Trek and you might get the drift of these two hip hipsters. My favorite tracks “Spacesound Effect," “The Twisting Spy," and “Samba Patrol” are all way too cool and a few listens will have these songs going over and over in your head. Fab music for fab people and great for driving with the convertible top down. Stereophonic Space Sound Unlimited have four albums out and every single one is a blast! It’s better than TV!
Ultra-Lounge, Vol. 17: Bongo Land — Ultra Lounge (series)
List Price: $11.98 On sale now for: $10.99
Okay, I’ve just gotta slip in some of de bongo music, man! This is number 17 of the Ultra-Lounge series of CDs. Now this one is a bit different from the rest. Most of the Ultra-Lounge series is for sipping martinis on a moonlit sandy beach. But this Bongo Land issue is different. This one will make you want to get up and dance with the primal sounds and animalistic rhythms.
But even though it is called Bongo Land, that doesn’t mean it’s all bongo’s, no my friend, of course the rest of the Tiki group have all come along and they are all in fine form. The Bongos are not always out front, but they are always there, giving you that irresistible beat. Five Voodoo skulls and a bottle of rum!
Kinda Kinky — Ursula 1000
List Price: $16.98
Gentlemen, welcome to the class. Please sit down.
Music is for creating a mood. This is one of the undeniable truths of life. Music is one of the most important parts in getting your prospective partner’s brain to release the natural chemicals that are quite critical to the seduction technique.
But, like any artisan, it must be used wisely. To go overboard at the start will be, how do you young folks say, “A turn-off”? It is a huge error to start off the evening with some crass seduction music such as Barry White. This type of, shall I say, “trash” will immediately telegraph to her that you are only interested in one thing and one thing only. Since you are already in this class, you would know that loud rock, Hip Hop, and Teeny-bopper Pop are out of the question for the suave and sophisticated seduction technique.
We can all be eternally grateful to the very cool urban swing and modern Jazz sounds of Ursula 1000 for they have created in one single CD the perfect aural, yet subliminal message for your sonic seduction. You will feel like James Bond pouring the drinks and your lady friend will feel like she has found the man of her dreams. A man who will definitely treat her like a lady. A lady, by the way, who will be cherished like a fine wine.
Are there any questions? Yes?
No, no… You do not wear your shirt buttoned down to your waist showing your chest hairs and your golden chain necklace on a first date (why am I here?).
Excellent. You did your homework and the previous evenings festivities will always be a night to remember for the both of you. You have done well. Now for the morning you have prepared the Chablis, coffee, and the rolled Sushi. Perfect.
Once again, aural reinforcement is the key. And to make her sure she has finally found Mr. Right, there is no better choice than Henry Mancini’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s." Yes, the symbolism is great. It is every woman’s dream to dine at such a fine affair.
When you think of Henry Mancini, you think of “Moon River," or “The Pink Panther." Both are suitable for letting her know that you are, indeed a worldly man that appreciates the finer things in life. “Moon River” originally came from the movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and remained No. 1 on the Billboard pop charts for 12 weeks in 1961. If you remember the movie, you’d know that the girl’s name was Miss Holly Golightly, and isn’t that another thing every girl wishes for? A life of fun and carefree bliss?
Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Henry Mancini is a must have for every man or woman who wants to take, if even for a few moments a day, a break from the hustle bustle of the rat race and dream about the good life.
Well, that’s it for this months Cool and Strange Music. Twelve CDs that are all winners. You just cannot miss with any of these. They all come with the Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers seal of approval and are guaranteed to get the toes a tappin’ and the fingers a snappin’. Also be advised that owning all 12 of the above mentioned CDs may just make you grow two inches taller, more handsome (or beautiful), and make you the most popular kid on the block.
So don’t say you weren’t forewarned!
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.