Home  ·  Listener's Guide  ·  The Songs  ·  Who's Who  ·  Liner Notes  ·  Selected Tracks  ·  What's New  ·  Search
About this Site


Background

Exotica and Space Age Bachelor Pad Music began to hit its stride in the mid-50s, about the same time that rock-n-roll was in deep into cover frenzy. Just as many mainstream pop artists rushed to cover Fats Domino's own cover of Smiley Lewis' "I Hear You Knockin'," hi-fi and stereo arrangers fell over themselves to cover "Caravan" and "April in Portugal." Depending on the listener's perspective, these artists either reveled in taking these songs to new levels of instrumentation and sonic possibilities -- or beat them into submission.

Many of these songs were pop or big-band hits from the 1940s and early 1950s. Before Enoch Light and Xavier Cugat -- and well before Dick Dale -- experimented with "Misirlou," the light pianist Jan August had a hit with it. What distinguishes these songs from other standards, though, is the astonishing frequency with which they were covered, particularly by the stalwarts of exotica. Esquivel arranged and recorded versions of virtually all of these songs--as did Enoch Light, Ferrante and Teicher, Lenny Dee, and the Ventures.

Just from my own collection of nearly 1,000 exotica and space-age pop LPs, I can find 40 versions of "The Breeze and I," and over 20 versions of "Autumn Leaves." Les Baxter's "Quiet Village" begot Martin Denny's "Quiet Village," which begot The Clebanoff Strings' version, Ferrante and Teicher's, Pete Rugolo's (done as a mambo), and many more.

For some folks, hell would be having to listen to over 25 versions of "Hawaiian War Chant." For me, it's a challenge, maybe not like climbing Mount Everest, but at least like mastering one of those puzzles where you have to get the little steel balls into the little holes. (On second thought, that IS a little like hell). If you have the rarefied and discerning taste to appreciate the artistry of Enoch Light, Robert Maxwell, or Hugo Montenegro, read on.

Stuart Sweezey: There are certain songs that seem to be standards across the board, from the Three Suns to George Wright--

Brian King: "Caravan's" a big one; it's very Arab-Indian influenced and was one of the first exotic songs. Plus "Quiet Village," "Tenderly," and "Hawaiian War Chant."

from Re/Search #14: Incredibly Strange Music, Volume 1 (see References)


Where This Site Came From, Where It's Going

This list is based a survey of my own collection of Exotica, Space-Age Bachelor Pad Music, stereo demonstration LPs, thrift shop records, and whatever other labels that have been put on this stuff.

In addition, I received inputs from some of the subscribers to the Exotica Mailing List. Thanks to all who contributed--and continue to contribute.

I attempted to follow a standard top-ten approach, but I found that while there were too many individual candidates, most of them fell into a much smaller number of categories. So this list represents the categories of songs that probably account for 30% or more of the total recorded output of space-age pop or exotica.

After assembling the list and researching the origins of the leading songs, I found the songs themselves needed to be set in the context of the artists who performed them, and put together a short list of names to provide short biographical sketches on. I quickly found that hard references on many of these artists were scarce and that almost nothing was available on-line. With this realization, my vision changed from a small site devoted to the top songs to a larger site that would provide at least some basic background information on the individuals who contributed to this music. I hope it now offers a resource for others who, like me, enjoyed listening to something by, say, Leo Addeo and wondered, "Who was this guy? What else did he do?"

The discographical information provided is not intended to be comprehensive or authoritative. My life is too short to worry about whether an album was released in both mono and fake-stereo "Duophonic" Capitol versions or that one has a cut the other doesn't. The discographies are merely intended to suggest what other recordings might be found if you want to hear more by an artist. I don't usually list the year a recording was made because few labels were as kind as RCA was in printing it on their albums.

There are over 300 biographies on the site and there are still at least two hundred names on my list of artists still to be covered, and I have more Listener's Guide pages in the works. Progress is never as fast as I'd like, but if there's someone or something you're dying to see added, please let me know. I regret to say that obituaries are increasingly becoming a primary source, so it's a tremendous pleasure to interview those musicians still with us.

I have received lots of comments since starting the site, most favorable, and many offering valuable corrections or additions. These contributions often provide information I would probably never get on my own, and I am very grateful to all of you who've taken the time to drop me a line at editor@spaceagepop.com.


Thank Yous

Several individuals have contributed significantly to this site and my sincere thanks go out to them.

Ross "Mambo Frenzy" Orr, Macintosh witch doctor, created the original Space Age Pop rocket ship logo. Dave Roemersberger, organ fan extraordinaire, provided outstanding discographical information on a number of organists covered on this site. Bill Kay, the world's most avid "Peter Gunn" fan, continues to provide regular discographical updates from his collecting safaris. Ford "Basic Hip" Shacklett provided a much-needed outlet for this music with his superb show on Live 365. Dana Countryman has been a big booster, both during his editorship of Cool and Strange Music magazine and after. And most of all, my wife, who has tolerated the many hours and feet of floor space this hobby has consumed.


Disclaimer

This site is a hobby. Although I occasionally sell things from my collection to make space for more, I am not a record dealer and the discography listings are not a catalog of items for sale. If you want to know where to buy a particular recording, I will try to point you in the right direction, but I can't provide a search service. Thanks to the renewed interest in space age pop, some of the best recordings have been reissued on CD and can be found at the better Internet music stores, such as Amazon.com's Music Store, formerly CDNow. If the record is long out of print--and many of them are--I recommend starting with www.GEMM.com, a very large index of the catalogs of used record dealers. After that, try the listing of used record dealers on Yahoo!. The auctions on eBay are also now a very large, if short-lived, catalog of records for sale. After that, try Goldmine or Discoveries, the two monthly papers devoted to pop music collecting. After that, it's time to hit the road. Some records just don't lend themselves to being found overnight.


Feedback Welcomed

Given the amount of information collected in these pages, I'm sure there are a few omissions and inaccuracies. I welcome any corrections, comments, and constructive criticism. Send them to me at editor@spaceagepop.com.


Awards This Site Has Received

TUTIC LogoThis is Useful! This is Cool! Site for June 24, 1997.

The Vegas Lounge Passenger's Pick: Week of April 15, 1998

Runner-Up AwardEarthLink's Homepage Contest Winner: Beginner's Category

Yahoo!Yahoo! Pick of the Week, 1 March 1999

Selected as one of "Web's Best Sites" by Encyclopedia Britannica


S p a c e  A g e  P o p  M u s i c
Home  ·  Listener's Guide  ·  The Songs  ·  Who's Who  ·  Liner Notes  ·  Selected Tracks  ·  What's New  ·  Search

Email: editor@spaceagepop.com

© spaceagepop 2015. All rights reserved.