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The Jungle Echoes of Chaino

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, December 15, 2016 06:02pm | Post a Comment

Chaino, Jungle EchoesBy Kai Wada Roath
Ambassador of Confusion Hill and host of the Super Shangri-La Show


Are you planning your next loincloth-clad romping weekend in the Jungle Rock Room at the Madonna Inn but don't feel you have the right tunes for your portable record player? Are Martin Denny and Eden Ahbez just a tad too mellow for the primitive thoughts you have swirling in your mind? You have Frank Hunter’s White Goddess album already, but you need more raw, mating-ritual music? You need Chaino.

As the story goes, long ago in the Congo, there was a hidden tribe that possessed extraordinary mental and physical powers and could even communicate with the wild animals. Then one day, a nearby jealous and hostile tribe attacked the secret tribe’s village, killing everyone but one little boy named Chaino. Found and saved by a passing Chaino, Night of the Spectremissionary, Chaino was brought to the United States to be “educated” and it was discovered that he had percussion talents from beyond this world.

Practicing 17 hours a day, Chaino would soon master 7 drums at a time. Although it was said, that he was quiet and reserved away from his drums, his "savage" beginnings seemed to resurface when he would play his music, allowing his primitive spirit to project through his drums. This, my friends, is the story Omega Records tells you on the back of Chaino’s record.

Leon “Chaino” Johnson was actually an American bongo player born in Philly and raised in Chicago. With the help of the famous record producer Kirby Allan, Chaino would release several exotica albums in the 1950s such as Jungle Echoes, Night of the Spectre, and Percussion for Primitive Lovers. With panting, whips, grunts, and moans, his songs are like no other exotica from that time.

"Swamp Girl."


And if you have a deep fondness for the Las Vegas Grind and Jungle Exotica compilations that Crypt Records put out in the 90’s like I do, then you are sure to love Chaino’s "The Chase."



Chaino would appear playing bongos on the Santa Monica pier in the 1961 cult classic, Night Tide, starring Dennis Hopper.



And the following year, he would perform as the drummer in a cult that worships the great Devil-God Gamba in the 1962 movie The Devil’s Hand.



If the word “primitive” gives you a sinister smile, I encourage you to sleuth and explore the Amoeba Lounge section (in the stores or online HERE) for one of his LPS or CDs and the DVD aisles too, for both those movies in my book are zee cream of the crop as well. As The Groupies sang in their 1966 hit, “Cuz I love…and I live...PRIMITIVE”.

The Devil's Hand

Relevant Tags

Film (172), Kai Wada Roath (30), Lounge (12), Chaino (3), Exotica (15), Omega Records (1), Crypt Records (1), Drums (6), Percussion (3), Bongos (1)