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New Taboo: Recent Vinyl Releases for Exotica Enthusiasts

Posted by Kells, August 31, 2016 10:32pm | Post a Comment
voodoo party elvis jungle room way down taboo volume 1 various artists wild boy eden ahbez lost songs exotica lounge novelty latin jazz caribbean tiki lounge vinyl LP

Lounge lizard brothers and sisters, tiki torch-bearers, and any other Jazz/World/Oldies bin-combers craving an escape from the harsh realities of this cruel world: rejoice! A splash of freshly pressed exotic pu-pus for your easy listening pleasure platters has hit the shelves this Summer, with the quartet of new releases pictured above presenting an especially potent sonic swizzle of hi-fi reverie. So disable your rudder, lose the shoes, stir up a tipple or two and drift into the intoxicating lagoon of these "new" grooves.

An Exploration into the Exotic World of Taboo Vol. 1 stag-o-lee various artists lounge tiki arthur lyman
V/A - Taboo: An Exploration into the Exotic World of Taboo Vol. 1 (Stag-O-Lee)

The first of a series dubbed Journey To The Centre Of The Song (each volume celebrating a singular tune by exploring a sampling of various recorded versions), this 10" contains nine genre-spanning interpretations of the popular standard "Taboo" (or "Tabou" or "Tabu") composed by Cuban musician Margarita Lecuona, a lady also responsible for the classic "Babalou". From Charles Blackwell's raucous "Surf'stramental" opener to the brassy cha-cha of Tito Rivera, and from the island rhythms of Cyril Diaz to Sylvia Mora's noir popcorn grind, all these and more buttoned up nicely by Arthur Lyman's own sensual evocation, nothing feels forbidden about the magic of examining these songs altogether or individually. In fact, it feels great to have them all in one place.


voodoo party vol 1. university of vice
V/A - Voodoo Party Vol. 1 (University of Vice)

This recent release is actually a reissue of the first Voodoo Party compilation, long sought-after since being out of print for over a decade. It's return may also be in part due to the success of the most excellent Voodoo Party Vol. 2—the second volume in the series of occult-focused eccentricities compiled by music research gurus University of Vice (please, oh, please let there be a volume three). In any case, both enchanting volumes are chock full of enough nocturnal, ritualistic burners from Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Peru, Puerto Rico, the African continent, and the infernal beyond to make ones head spin. With song titles like "Zombie Jamboree", "El Diablo", and "Animal Concert In A Cemetery", expect something wild, something weird, something sensual, something sinister, and drums, baby, DRUMS! 


wild boy the lost songs of eden ahbez Bear Family Records lounge exotica new age hippie novelty vinyl
Eden Ahbez - Wild Boy: The Lost Songs Of Eden Ahbez (Bear Family)

Eden Ahbez—if ever there were a true mystic of the nebulous Exotica genre, it would be he. Be it a demo sung by Ahbez himself or a rare renditions by Eartha Kitt and Arthur Lyman, most of the "lost" songs gathered for this collection span the years between Ahbez's best known work, "Nature Boy" (an autobiographical song that scored a hit with Nat "King" Cole in 1948), and his lone 1960 solo album and cult/tiki collector's item Eden's Island. The insightful and  extensive liner notes by Brian Chidester flesh out Ahbez's somewhat foggy past and posits his lifestyle choices and creative expressions as a well-spring of the hippie movement and a plausible genesis for psychedelic music as we know it. Needless to say, and all novelty aside, this is essentially far out.


Elvis Presley - Way Down in the Jungle Room rca lagacy witco tiki
Elvis Presley - Way Down in the Jungle Room (RCA/Legacy)

While Elvis' last studio recording sessions may seem more than a tad removed from the above three LPs, it makes up for any lack of sonic similarity with a certain vibe imparted by its ambient provenance. Consider for a moment how this record might be received if it had been recorded, say, way down in the TV Room. It could sound the same, but dropping the needle on this collection "fly-on-the-wall" late night outtakes (at one point you can hear Elvis yelling for someone to shoot the phone off the wall or something) while the tikitastic Jungle Room album cover stares down at you with it's hulking and markedly empty Witco chair propping Presley's guitar on its arm, flanked by more Witco, tropical plants, a meadow of funky, and overgrown shag "grass" carpet hemmed with a cut stone, red-light waterfall wall, a distinct transportative quality is lent to the listening. That Elvis chose to render Graceland's Jungle Room into a recording studio says something about the man's moods and relaxation preferences, and I think anyone with piqued interest in the three records reviewed above can heartily recognize these leanings and savor the flavor of the particular atmosphere harnessed on this record. I'm no expert when it comes to late, late-era Elvis, but it seems to me that he and his players were really feeling this gig and living it up accordingly way down in the Jungle Room. Just browsing the photos included in the album artwork is intoxicating enough to induce delirium.
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Relevant Tags

Tiki (5), Arthur Lyman (1), Exotica (15), Lounge (12), Elvis Presley (24), Eden Ahbez (7), Taboo (3), Voodoo (3)