Can U Dig It?

ultra 1Les Baxter. Martin Denny. Louis Prima. Esquivel. Jack Costanzo. King Curtis. Julie London and, of course, Frank, Dean and Sammy. These are the maestros of lounge music, a genre some misinformed brutes would label Elevator Music, or Easy Listening.

There are other labels, too: Bachelor Pad Music, Exotica, Space Age Pop, all of which are preferable to Elevator Music. Although, really, they do play this stuff in elevators. For the sake of brevity we’ll refer to this style of music as Lounge. That wonderful resource, Allmusic.com, says that the moods most regularly associated with “Lounge” are carefree, sophisticated, whimsical, playful and campy. Having trouble understanding the concept? Think the show Mad Men, angular furniture, or the themes to the Jetsons, or Star Trek. Think martinis, wife swapping parties, think…late ‘50’s, early ‘60’s, right before the Beatles showed up and spoiled the mood. Cool mood music for squares, Daddy-O!

ultra2Anyway, I really dig this stuff. Not as a serious, sit down and absorb it into my soul kind of way, though; more of a background, mood altering kind of way. It makes me feel happy.

If you are at all interested in this sort of music there is a wonderful series curated by Capital Records called “Ultra Lounge”. I’m not positive, but I think there are over 20 different volumes available. Each one focuses on a different “genre” of lounge, such as Exotica, Mambo, TV Themes, Paris, etc. I have sampled over 12 of these so far and all are uniformly wonderful. Each comes with great tongue in cheek liner notes and each booklet contains a recipe or 2 for a classic Mad Men era cocktail. I have about 200 or so songs on my ipod you could consider Lounge, and they pop up about every 7 songs or so when I shuffle. I think of them as a bit of a palate cleanser, to spare me the shock of going directly from The Bugle Sounds Again by Aztec Camera to Slip It In by Black Flag.

My eldest daughter thinks I’ve gone insane. And as Billy Joel says, she may be right. But I can now make one hell of a Tom Collins!

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