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September 09, 1991 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1991-09-09

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Page 8 -The Michigan Daily- Monday, September 9, 1991

Martin Denny
Exotica! The Best of Martin
Denny
Rhino
From the days when 13 stripes
and 48 stars a flag did make comes
Martin Denny, the underappreciated
craftsman who mated smarmy cock-
tail jazz with instruments and ideas
from around the world, creating a
sterile soundtrack for the growing
number of people in the '50s whose
volcanos were ignited by the graven
images of Polynesian culture, yet
who were unwilling to walk on the
hot coals, spend the evening with
tarantulas on their chests, or, yes,
even don the tiki as they took to
their hula or surfing lessons.
Exotica isn't a world beat excur-
sion - usually the music comes off
like Lionel Hampton and, say, Milt
Buckner cruising through The Les
Baxter Songbieok, backed by one of
Don Ho's smaller groups (plus a
token gamelan musician) and
recorded on location at some out-
door canopied officer's lounge near a
U.S. military base in Polynesia. One
example of Denny's mixing of
Hawaiian and Continental 48 is
"The Queen Chant (Li Liu E)," in
which a Hawaiian melody gets be-
bopped into a characteristic Denny
tune. The song even features a per-
cussion solo that sounds like hol-
low log signals, relating an epic

Hawaiian tale in the length of a
shorter Philly Joe Jones solo, fol-
lowed by an equally formidable
bass solo.
Another Denny specialty is
percussionist Augie Colon's ability
to bring ersatz fauna into the floral
Polynesian soundscapes. He whoops,
chirps, and even imitates a tsetse fly.
Sometimes the calls are tranquil,
like in the introduction to Denny's
first hit, "Quiet Village" (Peak:
No. 4, 4/27/59); at other moments,
the calls are boisterous and agitated,
perhaps approximating what Boyd
Rice might sound like if he were be-
ing tortured and forced to imitate a
bird at the same time. At yet other
times, like at the end of the dusky
warning totem "Escales," the calls
lend a sense of impending doom at
the hands of a people tired of being
exploited by pop culture through
shows like Gilligan's Island or
places like the Magic Kingdom's
Jungle Cruise and Tiki-style motels
- all forms of escape for baby-
booming families of the '50s and
'60s.
When "The Enchanted Sea," the
final track, arrives, with its
Morricone-esque whistles and
morning-sun-rapidly-approaching-
from -the-direction-of-the-Interna-
tional-Dateline feel, the listener can
savor one last melancholy dance
with his or her partner under that

aluminum canopy at the officer's
lounge in the South Pacific, assured
that the colonialists have continued.
to subdue the naive populations of
the Pacific... for now. "The
Enchanted Sea" was Denny's last
single to chart (No. 28, 11/16/59).
In fact, besides "Quiet Village,"
"The Enchanted Sea" was the only
other Martin Denny single to chart.
The sound on this compact disc
sparkles like the reflection of an af-
ternoon equatorial sun on the sur-
face of the South Sea, thanks to the
able hands of Rhino reissu-
ing/remastering head honcho Bill
Inglot. This, and the fact that the
CD has eight bonus tracks, makes me
willing to ignore the two major
flaws of this CD: the omission of
the Denny standard "Firecracker"
and the fact that the beautiful Sandy
Warner, the "Exotica Girl" who
graced so many of Denny's records,
is not featured on the cover of this
collection, but only deep in Stuart
Swezey and Brian King's liner notes.
Still, Exotica! serves as a com-
prehensive introduction to the cos-
mopolitan (as in Global Village,
UN, baby-booming, Esperanto-
speaking) oeuvre of an American
original. Now, go get your copy of
the CD, get a case of Towne Club
Tahitian Treat, get a tan and be
thankful that Jack Lord doesn't
know that you are more than will-
ing to explore the realms of the
taboo with Martin Denny.
-Greg Baise

Carter stops to think
Jim Bob on musical influences:
"Well, there's so many, which is why
it's hard to pin us down, I think."
Fruitbat on 101 Damnations:
"I think it's good. I haven't listened to
it for about a year now... It's not a
thing you do, really, listen to your
own records, cause you spend so
much time in the studio recording
them that you get sick of them. So
probably I'll listen to them when I'm
sitting down, seventy years old with
my grandchildren. You know (mimics
old man), 'This is something I did. It
sounds a bit dated now, but it was
good at the time.'"
The question that Jim Bob would
most like to be asked in an
interview: "How does it feel to be
the most desirable sexy man in pop?"
How does it feel? "It's not too bad.
I've learned to live with it. But I've
never been asked before."

Fruitbat explaining Jim Bob's first
visit to Jim Morrison's grave in
Paris: "Jim got really confused cause
there was all these arrows on all the
headstones saying Jim, this way, and
he wondered how they knew he was
coming."
Fruitbat explaining why the
British like Sub Pop recording
artist Tad so much: "I think it's
because he's such a character. I think
they actually like the actual idea of this
big fat bloke with a guitar sort of
balancing on his belly. He actually
jumps into the audience as well,
which is something to see. It's like the
parting of the Red Sea or something;
they see him coming and they run."
Fruitbat on America and
television: "It's like deja vu or
something. You get to a town and (it)
looks like something you've seen on
TV a couple of times, although you've
actually never been there before."
-Annette Petruso

Picture Place
WELCOME BACK TO SCHOOL!
Bring us those rolls of film and watch what develops!

SEX
Continued from page 5
play guitar and Jim sings lead vocals
and I sing backing vocals. It's a lot
more rock and roll than it sounds,
it's not like Depeche Mode or any-
thing."
Jim Bob says he feels staying a
duo isn't limiting in any way. "The
only things we can't do is, like, we
can't do a lot of acoustic sets or any-
thing," he says. "We're not very
good at that kind of thing, you
know. If the PA doesn't work, then
we probably don't play or whatever.
But it's not really our problem. We
can't do blues, jams or anything, we
can't come back on and do Led
Zeppelin covers or anything like
that, 'cause we're drunk."
Fruitbat emphasizes that they
plan on staying a duo. "If you get
other members in the band, the

whole idea gets watered down.
We've got a really strong idea of
what we want and we want to be
free to be able to do that, and, like,
just the two of us working together
with the computers and synthesiz-
ers to find exactly what we need,"
he explains.
They must have been drunk when
they thought of their "names," as
well. Fruitbat is funny, but Jim
Bob's story is a tragic tale. "My
real name is Jim Morrison," he says.
"And that's an embarrassment."
So Jim Bob took his name from a
simpler hero, Jim Bob Walton. "I
mean, if I hadn't seen The Waltons,
my name wouldn't be Jim Bob, I
suppose," he says.
Jim Bob has never been to the
USA before, but his initial recep-
tion was not as polite as the Walton
clan might have given him. "Had a
hard time at immigration, 'cause

they said I was wanted in Canada,
apparently, and they were going to
kick my ass in Canada if I ever go
there. I've never been there. And
then they were telling me they#
didn't like my hairstyle. That was
the first thing I got. And then you
step out and there's like two-hun-
dred-fifty-thousand-million people
at the airport. And it was really hot
So I don't know, this sounds stupid,
I think just the size does catch you
out a bit. And the fact that you rec-
ognize everything from television.
It's very much sort of a television
place ..."
Tomorrow, read about the La's. Jim
Bob says, "They're all right. I
really like the album, but we played
with them live quite a long time ago,
and that's the last time I saw them. I.
think they're more interested in
drugs than they are in music."

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