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Pop - Released June 1, 1959 | Capitol Records

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Despite its ubiquitous appearance in thrift stores (it is the Whipped Cream and Other Delights of exotica), this record packs quite a few surprises. First, the final track is a re-release of the number four hit and Denny signature tune, "Quiet Village" (originally on the first Exotica LP). "Coronation," "Firecracker," and "Sake Rock" -- covered by 1990s group the Cocktails -- are representative of the standard Denny oeuvre: birdcall "Polynesian" exotica, Chinese, and Japanese. Most intriguing, however, is the self-parody treatment of "Little Grass Shack" set to a cha-cha-cha beat and punctuated with an absurd duck call instead of the usual birds. © Tony Wilds /TiVo
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Pop - Released April 1, 1959 | Capitol Records

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Nominally, this represents Martin Denny's attempt to evoke the ambience of the African continent, after having done the same for the South Pacific via a series of early albums. Denny does use marimba, vibes, bongos, congas, and timbales -- not to mention sound effects of a buzzing tsetse fly and the rain forest. But the result is even less genuinely African (to the "nth" degree) than, say, Paul Simon's Graceland. Not to mention that the Randy Van Horne Singers, who contribute backing vocals (as they did for the Flinstones and Jetsons cartoons), were probably about as authentically African as a Disneyland voodoo doll. Denny never pretended to offer a genuinely ethnic experience, though. This is, despite any impressions generated by the title, more exotica music, pure and simple. There isn't much Denny on CD, but almost everyone will be content to pick up the Rhino best-of (which admittedly only duplicates a few cuts from Afro-Desia) and leave it at that. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1996 | Capitol Records

Part of the great exotica resurgence of the earl '90s, this compilation from "Tiki God" Martin Denny is about as good a beach accompaniment as one could hope for. Over the span of two discs and 43 tracks, Denny and his able-bodied band provide both islanders and the landlocked with the perfect kitschy soundtrack to a hot summer night. His biggest hit, the Les Baxter-penned "Quiet Village" and radio favorites "Taste of Honey," "Ebb Tide," and "Enchantment Under the Sea" are included, so anybody confused by the three or four other collections that bear the same name need not fear that what they're getting is the runaround. Crack open a coconut, insert your straw, and pass out under the stars. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Pop - Released December 1, 1959 | Capitol Records

Booklet
The Enchanted Sea is the last in the unbroken line of the more experimental exotica records; subsequent records tend to emphasize repertoire over unusual instruments. While softer in mood and slower in tempo than previous albums, this one retains the emphasis on exotic sounds and effects. A sleepy harbor and seaside mood is developed through the use of a conch-shell trumpet (traditionally used to signal the approach of royalty in Hawaii), foghorn, bird calls, and even whistling. © Tony Wilds /TiVo
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World - Released January 1, 2006 | Capitol Records

Since the mid-'90s resurgence of easy listening or space age bachelor pad music, the majority of both original LPs and compilations by the pioneers of the genre -- Esquivel, Les Baxter, Arthur Lyman, and Martin Denny -- saw a glut of reissues, both good and bad. Unfortunately, the best of those discs aren't as easy to find some ten years later as they once were, making this 2006 compilation a welcome arrival. The 19 tracks on The Best of Martin Denny's Exotica are original recordings from his late-'50s/early-'60s Liberty albums and include the hits "Exotica," the Les Baxter-penned "Quiet Village," "Hypnotique," "Jungle Drums," and "The Enchanted Isle." Also of special interest is a previously unreleased five-minute interview with Denny and heartfelt liner notes penned by his daughter Christina. This is an enjoyable sampler courtesy of Capitol's recurring Ultra Lounge series. © Al Campbell /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 1959 | Capitol Records

Booklet
The pinnacle of Denny's career, Hypnotique earns a place in history for its achingly beautiful jacket design alone. The same photo shoot also yielded the cover photo for the Denny-produced "Exotic Dreams" by singer Ethel Azama. The music of Hypnotique is just as compelling, producing an effect that certainly must be described as hypnotic, if not occasionally feverish. This can be partially attributed to the help of guests Barbara Smith, John Mechigashari, and Bud Lee on various Japanese instruments. The Jack Halloran Singers also add understated vocal intrigue to two tracks, one of which is Les Baxter's "Voodoo Dreams." Liner notes are by author James Michener. Hypnotique is incredibly strong from start to finish, one of the first records one should pack in that slim, proverbial "desert island" suitcase. © Tony Wilds /TiVo
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Pop - Released May 1, 1957 | Caroline Records

Exotica introduced the hit "Quiet Village," catapulted the ersatz musical idiom of the same name, and brought much attention to the Martin Denny Group from visitors to the group's base in Hawaii. Even the gorgeous jacket photo -- of "exotica girl" Sandy Warner peeking out from a bamboo curtain -- is a classic of the era. With all this going for it, it almost seems unnecessary to point out that half of the tunes are from Les Baxter's tremendous "tone poem" Ritual of the Savage, itself an early classic of exotica. All of the tracks are solid and appropriate. Oddly enough, the record reflects Liberty Records' refusal to release its monaural recordings in electronically simulated stereo. The original, monaural version of the LP was recorded before stereo records were produced. That version features Arthur Lyman (still fresh after drunkenly discovering the allure of birdcalls) and is considered brighter, wilder, and more interesting than the stereo re-recording. The stereo version features Lyman's replacement on vibraphone, Julius Wechter (later founder of the astoundingly boring Baja Marimba Band). © Tony Wilds /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 1, 1958 | Caroline Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1962 | CM BLUE NOTE (A92)

Exotica Suite is a highly unusual project with much to recommend it. First and foremost, it is entirely a composition by Les Baxter, the man who came up with the first exotica suite, Ritual of the Savage, and to whom Martin Denny thus owes an incalculable artistic debt. The arranger, Bob Florence, worked closely with Baxter and also arranged most of Denny's later recordings. The good news for Baxter fans is that this is a very impressive, cohesive work nearly on a par with the "exotic crime jazz" sensation, Jungle Jazz. Unfortunately, trombonist Si Zentner has little of the subtlety of Jungle Jazz's star Plas Johnson; subsequently, Exotica Suite earns just a "B+" compared to Jungle Jazz's "A." The bad news for Denny fans is that Martin Denny may as well have sat this one out. Despite the principal credit to him, the most familiar aspect may be the jacket design. But even the jacket is different this time; a flap covered with burlap is attached. The design is effective and is intended to help show off the record's audiophile recording process, Liberty "Premier Poly 120 Sound." The pressings are not appreciably superior to the early, black-label Liberty stereo records, however. © Tony Wilds /TiVo
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Pop - Released August 1, 1958 | Capitol Records

Booklet
Denny recorded his third album shortly after suffering a key loss in his ranks with the defection of vibraphonist Arthur Lyman, who left to start his own successful solo career. Lyman also recruited a rhythm section that had formerly worked with Denny, who carried on by replacing him with vibraphonist Julius Wechter. At any rate, Martin's sound didn't change much, mixing island sounds, easy listening, and Asian/world music accents. This has compositions by Denny, Wechter, and Les Baxter, as well as some exoticized standards. The entire LP was paired with its follow-up, Primitiva, on a single CD by Scamp in 1996. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 1, 1958 | Capitol Records

Booklet
With an assortment of titles like "Burma Train," "M'Gambo Mambo," "Bangkok Cockfight," "Dites Moi," "Jamaica Farwell," "Flamingo," and "M'Bira," it's apparent that Denny was trying to be all things to all people here. It is one of his more diverse outings, though, if only for the sheer variety of instruments employed. Say what you will about the cheesiness of this pseudo-world music, Denny deserves some sort of credit for bringing instruments like the m'bira, Burmese gongs, koto, Buddhist prayer bowls, and "primitive log from New Guinea" into the mainstream. They can all be heard on this album, and some of the cuts are among the artist's most rhythmic efforts. The entire LP was paired with its predecessor, Forbidden Island, on a single CD by Scamp in 1996. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1963 | Capitol Records (CAP)

In a word: gratuitous. © Tony Wilds /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1962 | Capitol Records (CAP)

Taking a tip from George Shearing, Martin Denny cruised through most of the '60s with a slew of bossa nova and jazz cocktail albums. Denny's late-'50s exotica records had established him as a name to reckon with in bachelor pad circles, but were only good for a limited stretch. Denny didn't forsake this period completely, though, when he turned to jazz; on this release at least, one hears bits of his earlier South Seas and Hawaiian backdrops in the bongo accompaniment and occasional leftfield percussion accent. Other factors to consider are Cal Tjader and Dave Brubeck, both of whom Denny pays homage to by covering their respective numbers "Black Orchid" and "Take Five." As both Tjader and Shearing did on many recordings, Denny and company raise these cuts and their version of "A Taste of Honey" beyond the confines of kitsch by way of some top-notch ensemble playing. The whole album, for that matter, is well played, but things do go south a bit towards the end as the band slips into background music mode. This is not to say that versions of war horses like "Exodus" and "Claire de Lune" aren't enjoyable, or even tailored made for entertaining guests, but they don't offer much in the way of exotic thrills or rarefied touches. Still, A Taste of Honey should resonate with dedicated Denny fans; and since there has to be at least a few gems on each of the several lounge jazz records Denny released, someone should put together a compilation covering this period as a compliment to Rhino's exotica-era collection. © Stephen Cook /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1963 | Capitol Records (CAP)

The trend in light piano jazz continues. Three tracks on this record are quite worthwhile: "Exotique Bossa Nova," "Night in Tunisia," and the very interesting reworking, "Quiet Village Bossa Nova." © Tony Wilds /TiVo
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Pop - Released May 1, 1959 | Capitol Records

Booklet
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Rock - Released January 1, 1964 | Capitol Records (CAP)

Consistently pleasing, Latin Village is the triumph of Martin Denny's search for a new style, post-exotica. It doesn't hurt that many of the tunes are bossa novas. Significantly, Robert Drasnin lends his talents as co-arranger. (Drasnin has a "geographically challenged" exotica record of his own: Voodoo: Exotic Music from Polynesia and the Far East.) © Tony Wilds /TiVo
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Jazz - Released May 21, 2021 | RevOla

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Schlager - Released March 22, 2006 | Calling Card Musikproduktion

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Electronic - Released August 28, 2020 | Music Television (Special Marketing)

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New Age - Released November 30, 2017 | Vintage Jukebox