what Frank is listening to #67 – ARTHUR LYMAN – Bahia (Hi Fi) – 1959
Way back in Comment #21 I reviewed Martin Denny's "
To some this is "exotica", to others it is "lounge music", "popular", "muzak", "mood music", "background music", "easy listening", "instrumentals" – these are all terms which can be applied, though those terms also define specific and distinct styles under the general banner of "lounge music". The term "Exotica" is best applied to Denny as most of his career he spent re-interpreting native ( Polynesian, African, Hawaiian, Caribbean etc sounds) ….. it's not folk music as it is distinctly western with a hint of jazz but what Denny did was take the "mood" of those "exotic" sounds and fuse them in with his western upbringing. To enhance the effect ( or mood) he would use "strange" instruments or sound effects.
The same applies to Lyman though Lyman stuck mainly to all things Hawaiian and exotic as he was born and bred there (native, Portuguese, French etc). He left Denny's band in 1957 and set up his own combo based in
Coinciding with Lyman's music was a general popularity of all things Hawaiian … the Polynesian and tiki thing (which though Polynesian was popularized across the Pacific from Hawaii to the Californian coast) was about to "go off" across the US in the late 50s thanks to the excitement generated by Hawaii relinquishing it's "territory" status and becoming the 50th State of the USA. Between about 1958 and 1965 the
Literature: James Michener's best seller –
(1959) (made into a film in 1966) Hawaii
- Films: Elvis' Blue Hawaii (1961) (a humongous box office hit – and a #1 soundtrack album), Girls! Girls! Girls! (1963) with Elvis, Gidget Goes Hawaiian(1961), Paradise Hawaiian Style (1966) with Elvis, John Ford's Donovan's Reef (1963) with John Wayne – not set in Hawaii per se but French Polynesia (filmed in Hawaii), South Pacific(1958) (close enough to Hawaii), She Gods of Shark Reef (1958) (again close enough).
- Acting: James Shigeta, Poncie Ponce.
TV Shows: Hawaiian Eye (1959-63),
Five-0 ( 1968-80), Adventures in Hawaii Paradise(1959-62), even Gilligan's Island(1964)
History: The Arizona Memorial for the sailors who died in the attack on
was formally opened in 1961. Pearl Harbour
- Sport: the increasing popularity of surfing
- Music: the ukulele craze, Lyman, Alfred Apaka, Don Ho (a little later), Eddie Bush, the Hula dance and song, country hula music (Marty Robbins and Hank Snow and many others recorded in the style).
- Food: Pineapples, papaya, poi, sweet potato, kalua pork, kona coffee
Fashion: Grass skirts, and the Hula Hoop (which had nothing to do with
– it was invented in Hawaii but named after the Hula dance) Australia-
It was natural for lounge music to attach itself to the exotic and if all things exotic were Polynesian and Hawaiian it is not surprising that musicians in that genre were attracted to
That was the perfect opportunity for a local boy brought up on Benny Goodman jazz band records (with Lionel Hampton on vibes who he adored) to join the craze and adapt his jazz to the exotica and lounge music gaining popularity. Lyman is a beautiful vibes player and though he never goes totally crazy like
from wikipedia: Most of Lyman's albums were recorded in the aluminium Kaiser geodesic dome auditorium on the grounds of the Kaiser Hawaiian Village Hotel on
Where's my Stones Green Ginger wine …
so many to choose from – this is a splendid Lyman album up there with his "Taboo (1958) and Leis of Jazz (1959) … so I choose all …
Bahia" – wow – penned by Brazilian composer/pianist and soccer commentator Ary Barroso.
- "Jungle Jalopy" – a Les Baxter song – with congas going off.
- "Legend of the Rain" – for the guitarists out there, from allmusic: "Legend of the Rain" is notable for the traditional Hawaiian slack key guitar — which is represented with what sounds like an amplified slide guitar — predating the instrument's use in pop recordings by several years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slack_key
- "Bamboo" – I can hear the drama and the gentleness of the bamboo rustling or is that a freaking possum outside on my eggplants.
- "Return to Me" – the 1958 hit for Dean Martin – a beautiful Neapolitan type song.
- "Caribbean Nights" – a happy bouncing piece of escapism – machine castanets(?) go crazy as do bongos – with crazy tempo changes.
- "Quiet Village" – Lyman's cover of the Baxter song that was a hit for Denny also – a great song but if this is a Quiet Village I would hate to hear a noisy one …
- "Tropical" – it certainly is … didn't I ask for a drink?
- "Happy Voodoo" – unless you are the chicken … slightly spooky … where does the "happy" come from?
"Busy Port" – it sounds like
- "Beyond the Reef" – recorded by everyone – (including Elvis – at home in 1960 and in the studio in 1966) … quite a evocative and romantic song.
- "Maui Chimes" – a weird way to end – a carnival, circus type song – like the end of a Fellini film … "life is a carnival"
Who needs "chill out" music done by some pimply poxy kid on his PC, when you can put Lyman on the turntable?
Though Lyman had some hits most notably "Yellow Bird" in 1961 which went to #2 (the only other big exotica hit after Denny's "Quiet Village" which went to #4 in 1959) this album failed to chart.
As I said in comment #21- the same applies here to Lyman: Sit back with a drink ( preferably a pina colada, or something with white rum) and you are transported to another time and another place ….. a small island in the pacific, 1960. I can feel the wahinni fanning me now and I don't have a care in the world. Was life simpler then ? I think not, though Denny (Lyman) was selling escapism then and that's what makes this so enjoyable now …. we probably need this more than ever now… Ray Davies would certainly agree.
If you didn’t guess – I'm keeping this.
Arthur doing "
more live Arthur:
A good review of the LP:
Liner notes and rapidshare files:
(originally posted: 26/07/2009)