Various Artists

Tropical Britxotica!

Trunk JBH062LP
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During the 1950's American Exotica exponents Les Baxter, Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman fused African and Latin rhythms with Caribbean and Polynesian sounds to evoke the sonic equivalent of a tropical island paradise. This 3rd volume of Britxotica examines how their English equivalents fuelled by the popularity of hit musical South Pacific, attempted to create the same sun-drenched Haitian ambience in rain-soaked, post-war London.

Swapping the golden sands of Trinidad for the yellow smog of Notting Hill, former shorthand typist Lucille Mapp found success in a variety of British films and musicals while at the same time releasing a handful of 45 rpm discs. She seductively opens this compilation with a scintillating cover of 'Mangoes' and closes it with 'On Treasure Island', an equally enticing offering produced by Skippy - The Bush Kangaroo composer Eric Jupp.

'Coral Reef' by The Sound of Ed White was Pye's first stereophonic single and released in 1961; the same year as 'Green Eyes' by Decca Studios concoction The International 'Pops' All Stars. Issued as part of Decca's state-of-the-art Phase Four Stereo series, this track is a dynamic demonstration of the company's latest sonic achievements and was impressively released in a deluxe gatefold sleeve complete with baffling technical diagrams.

Prior to his prolific film scoring career, Ron Goodwin worked with George Martin on the cinematic concept recordings 'Out of this World', 'Music For an Arabian Night' and 'Tropical Mirage' - a great early example of Britxotica from 1953. Previously Goodwin worked as arranger for top producer Norrie Paramor who was also responsible for many conceptual mood music releases including 'Jet Flight', 'Emotions', 'Zodiac Suite' and the Martin Denny style track 'Hawaii' featured here.

Geoff Love once played in a Dixieland band with Paramor before establishing himself as a popular orchestra leader. The Yorkshireman was born into a musical family and grew up touring with his English mother and African-American father. With a passion for Latin he created the pseudonym Manuel and the Music of the Mountains and recorded over 25 albums at Abbey Road until 1981. Included here is the title track from his 'Heatwave' LP which attempted to lure listeners with its provocative wild woman cover.

Skinny dipping and seducing sailors like a marooned Mrs Robinson Crusoe, Yorkshire's flame haired Marion Ryan frankly reveals the erotic pleasures of Pacific life while her manager jazz pianist Dick Katz (not the American Dick Katz, the British one), performs his own slice of seductive escapism - the sublime 'Dreamride'. Another island dweller, Liverpudlian Jonny Gentle, was given his sensitive name by legendary impresario Larry Parnes before releasing a few flops in 1960. 'Milk from the Coconut', a song about Waikiki love and pineapple kisses, failed to capitalize on the country's short lived but enthusiastic interest in Calypso. Eventually the delicate Jonny Gentle did find an island paradise when he moved to Jersey to become a joiner.

Leicestershire saxophonist Betty Smith was one of the few female musicians working in British Jazz during the 50's. Renowned for her improvisational skills, she formed a group, embarked on global tours and sang with Ted Heath's famous band. 'Stormy Weather' is a moodily atmospheric nugget of jazz blues played magnificently by 'the girl with sax appeal'.

Film composer and arranger Martin Slavin's work included The Cool Mikado with John Barry, Pit Of Darkness and the Cybermen theme for Doctor Who. In confused Britxotica fashion he released a series of Latin tinged tunes under the thinly veiled pseudonym Martinas and his Music. His version of Les Baxter's laid back classic is superb, although I can't imagine how anyone can relax in this supposedly 'Quiet Village' when surrounded by twanging guitars, squawking parrots and howling wolves.

Britain's brief affection for tropical exotica diminished as Tiki Bars became Discotheques and living rooms replaced their exotic Green Lady paintings with the erotic Wings of Love. Sadly the relaxed, gently percussive, sun-soaked music never become greatly popular with a nation more familiar with Southend than the South Seas. However, the rhythmic heat of Latin music continued to excite England's energetic ballroom dancers and some of those vibrant mambos, sambas and cha-cha-chas can be heard on the forthcoming Strictly Britxotica! album.

Martin Green

Various Artists: Tropical Britxotica!

Mangoes Various Artists
Hawaiian Honeymoon Various Artists
Coral Reef Various Artists
Tropical Mirage Various Artists
Heatwave Various Artists
An Occasional Man Various Artists
Summertime Various Artists
Dreamride Various Artists
Run See Jerusalem Various Artists
Green Eyes Various Artists
Milk From The Coconut Various Artists
Haitian Ritual Various Artists
Stormy Weather Various Artists
Quiet Village Various Artists
Hawaii Various Artists
On Treausre Island Various Artists

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