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Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Complete Ultra-Lounge Series

(Capitol, 1996, 1997)
VARIOUS ARTISTS (The Ultralounge Series)

We knew that we had to add this collection to the list. One of the best things of the music that you will find in the Ultra-Lounge collection is the ability of travelling thru space and time. Specifically, you'll go to Las Vegas, Nevada and you'll get there any time between 1950 and 1963.

It was a good period of time, if you compare to these days (April 2003). The Rat Pack, Louis Prima, Julie London... and of course the amazing sounds of the South Pacific Islands brought by the U.S. soldiers who fought in World War II: Les Baxter and Martin Denny are the first musicians who come to mind. The cocktail had been mixing with the new sounds that Jazz brought after the Be-bop climax. It would be a mixture of Big Band Swing, exotic sounds from far away lands and sci-fi movie sound effects. Add the fact that there were a lot of swingers, bachelors and happy people ready to love and be loved all around the western world and the drink was served. They called it Lounge. For some listeners, it can be the cheesiest music ever recorded. For some others, the perfect soundtrack for luxury, sin, fun, sex, beautiful and sofisticated girls and boys, one-night stands, gambling... "swingin'" in general.

Capitol Records had a lot of lounge artists under its wings. Later, when they started distributing labels like Blue Note, Scamp and Liberty, they could have thought considering to make this big collection. It was no problem to look after lounge material. They had enough tracks to make 25 CDs plenty of relaxing sounds, snappy vocals, space escapades and latin rhythms with mellow melodies. Polinesian melodies, Puerto Rican - New Yorker mambo rhythms, Early TV themes, crooner action and overheated hammond organs are combined and separated in 18 volumes; each one with a different theme. The compiler was Brad Benedict. Wayne Watkins was the executive producer. Praise to them! Capitol has been releasing collections of its artists frequently. there is Capitol Collector's Series (1989), Great Gentlemen Of Song (1995), and Classic Masters (2003); this last one dedicated to the label's rock section. Just as Ultra-Lounge, they are excellent ways to get introduced to these hard working and talented artists.

This is a testament of the good old days. When everything was easier and, of course, there were few TV channels, no internet, and the average human being listened to the radio more hours a day. This collection is full of nostalgia as the liner notes in each CD tell us what happened with the world during those cool years, before Rock and Roll, before Vietnam, and before social revolutions.

Escapism during stress times? Well, that's what the TV news would say about this collection now. It is escapism, magic, and specially it's a collection about freedom and imagination. It's not bad at all. Your brain will be completely seduced.

This is the Ultra-Lounge Collection:

Volume 1: Mondo Exotica

Volume 2: Mambo Fever

Volume 3: Space Capades

Volume 4: Bachelor Pad Royale

Volume 5: Wild, Cool & Swingin'

Volume 6: Rhapsodesia

Volume 7: Crime Scene

Volume 8: Cocktail Capers

Volume 9: Cha Cha De Amor

Volume 10: A Bachelor In Paris

Volume 11: Organs In Orbit

Volume 12: Saxophobia

Volume 13: TV Town

Volume 14: Bossa Novaville

Volume 15: Wild, Cool And Swingin' Too!

Volume 16: Mondo Hollywood

Volume 17: Bongo Land

Volume 18: Bottoms Up!

More Ultra-Lounge Releases (not numbered):

Vegas Baby!

Tiki Sampler

Leopard Skin Fuzzy Sampler

On The Rocks, Part One

On The Rocks, Part Two

Christmas Cocktails, Part One

Christmas Cocktails, Part Two

Visit the Ultra-Lounge website! for
more information.

Further Listening:

Capitol Collector's Series: The first big collection of Capitol's main artists.
Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Louis Prima and, believe it or not, Grand Funk

Spotlight On: Great Gentlemen of Song: Mel Tormé, Bobby Darin and others make the microphones sizzle. Nat King Cole delivers.

Verve Jazz Masters (Verve, 1994) : if you thought Ultra-Lounge was cool wait till you get introduced to un-distilled and live jazz.