Thursday, May 15, 2014

Martin Denny's Dip Into Lysergia

Posted by on Thu, May 15, 2014 at 7:11 AM

Sometime in the mid-'90s, after an interview/feature in the first volume of Re/Search: Incredibly Strange Music, there was a HUGE kitsch crush on composer Martin Denny. In the feature, he described his music as: "just window dressing familiar tunes. I can take a tune like 'Flamingo' and give it a tropical feel, in my style. In my arrangement of a Japanese farewell song, 'Sayonara,' I include a Japanese three-stringed instrument, the shamisen. We distinguished each song by a different ethnic instrument, usually on top of a semi-jazz or Latin beat."

Yes, exactly, and it was a winning formula, but he could get real far out too; the lazy pace, exotic instruments, and layered arrangements can become the soundtrack of your best cartoon dream and his dreamy moog experiments have earned a respected spot in my record collection. Well, as he was often reworking radio pop, I reckon it makes sense he'd give the Strawberry Alarm Clock's pop sike hit "Incense and Peppermints" his "exotic" treatment!!

What a cool balance of "cool" and easy exploitation expansion. Maybe it 'cause I'm older, but I dig the subtle psychedelic flourishes of easy/exploitative these easy guys would employ. Just, dig the expansiveness of the song "Hypnotique." I suggest you play that track on repeat, instead of the Pink Floyd, the next time you find yourself studying for a London Social Degree or perhaps seeing Ms. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds 'cause I'm sure you'll see SOMETHING you didn't expect to hear.


Comments (8) RSS

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Keekee 1
Ha ha! Who plays with Laughing Sam's Dice anymore?!?
Posted by Keekee on May 15, 2014 at 9:00 AM · Report this
Fnarf 2
My favorite genre! Jive Time in Fremont has a whole section for "Squares Do Rock", which always throws up some real gems. It's even more awesome to think that in many cases the guys playing on the track are the same as the pop hit original. Jazz versions of pop hits are often rewarding, too.

Check out the Soulful Strings doing "Paint it Black"

Or Percy Faith's "Black Magic Woman":

Martin Denny's more usual tiki style is one of the great musical movements of the 20th century, though I prefer the closely related Latin jazz of Cal Tjader. I was fortunate enough to see the great Arthur Lyman before he died some years ago; just solo vibes, in a roomful of 90-year-olds. Wonderful. And for the record, we were digging "Quiet Village" more than a decade before that Re:Search book.
Posted by Fnarf on May 15, 2014 at 9:51 AM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 3

Miley Cyrus vocal on Flaming Lips Lucy in the Sky remake?

(I vote yea.)
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on May 15, 2014 at 11:02 AM · Report this
treacle 4
"pop sike hit" ???

Do you mean psych, as in psychedelic?
I'm pretty sure that 'sike' is an unfortunately common misspelling that occured bcz people didn't know [of/how to spell] the word psych and they just guessed. Even Urban Dictionary sez so, multiple times.

A Sike is actually a british term for a type of small stream that dries up in summer.
Posted by treacle on May 15, 2014 at 11:18 AM · Report this
Fnarf 5
@4, you have obviously never seen a copy of Shindig or Ugly Things. The spelling has been a mainstay of crate diggers for thirty years. I think it's more a nod to "pop-sike" to suggest the dubiousness or softness or ridiculousness of some of the output (though ridiculousness is never a disqualification for greatness).
Posted by Fnarf on May 15, 2014 at 12:01 PM · Report this
Fnarf 6
Further clarification: nobody calls Jimi Hendrix "sike". But there can be no better word to describe the magnificence of Twinn Connexion:
Posted by Fnarf on May 15, 2014 at 12:04 PM · Report this
Strawberry Alarm Clock are still around.
Posted by shorewoodslim on May 15, 2014 at 2:36 PM · Report this
nipper 8
@4 what 5 said. "Sike" is knowing head/record nerd slang. It's telling of newbs when they use descriptors like "psych-rock."

@6 Twinn Connexion!! YEAH!! Got the LP!! (swoon)
Posted by nipper on May 15, 2014 at 4:58 PM · Report this

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