Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Quiet! Village...

When it comes to Lounge/Exotica it's gets no loungier than Martin Denny.  Mayhaps it's why he is known as the "Father of Exotica" a "title" I am seriously jealous of.  There is only one "title" that would be better, the "Chancellor of Exotica" but that's beside the point. I adore this video of Denny and his band playing live outdoors in Hawaii while the camera takes you through what I suppose is the "Quiet Village".  Take note of the fat Hawaiian man lounging awkwardly as the women folk work. It's amazing.

"During an engagement at the Shell Bar, Denny discovered what would become his trademark and the birth of "exotica." The bar had a very exotic setting: a little pool of water right outside the bandstand, rocks and palm trees growing around, very quiet and relaxed. As the group played at night, Denny became aware of bullfrogs croaking. The croaking blended with the music and when the band stopped, so did the frogs. Denny thought this to be a coincidence, but when he tried the tune again later, the same thing happened. This time, his bandmates began doing all sorts of tropical bird calls as a gag. The band thought it nothing more than a joke. The next day, though, someone approached Denny and asked if he would do the arrangement with the birds and frogs. The more Denny thought about it, the more it made sense. At rehearsal, he had the band do "Quiet Village" with each doing a bird call spaced apart. Denny did the frog part on a grooved cylinder and the whole thing became incorporated into the arrangement of "Quiet Village". It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc."
This came from Ranch Records in Salem Oregon, where I just spent a week convalescing and record digging, it was heaven.  Not so fun was bringing the 100 some odd albums I bought back on the plane as my carry on's. The track below is Sake Rock another fabulous selection from this wonderful album.

Our record player is on the fritz, so until we get it back in order I'll just be using youtube videos rather than audio embeds. Below is Martinique.

"Quiet Village" is an exotica instrumental that was originally written and performed by Les Baxter in 1952. In the liner notes to his album, Ritual of the Savage (Le sacre du sauvage), Baxter described the themes he was conveying in the work:
[t]he jungle grows more dense as the river boat slowly makes its way into the deep interior. A snake slithers into the water, flushing a brilliantly plumaged bird who soars into the clearing above a quiet village. Here is a musical portrait of a tropical village deserted in the mid-day heat.
Seven years later, in 1959, Martin Denny added exotic sounds to the song, and his instrumental version made it to number four on the pop singles chart and number eleven on the R&B chart. Denny also recorded a bossa nova version of the song in 1964 and a version on Moog synthesizer in 1969. In 1977, The Ritchie Family recorded a disco version of the song and added vocals. The single was included on their African Queens album. Along with the album's title track as well as "Summer Dance", "Quiet Village" hit number one for three weeks in 1977. However, unlike the Martin Denny version, The Ritchie Family recording did not chart on the pop singles or R&B chart.  The original single hit was a mono recording edited to 2:42, and this length version was used on the Liberty album as well. There was a different recording, done in stereo, used on stereo Liberty LP's and many subsequent reissues. The full length version only made is first appearance sometime in the 1980's.


  1. Actually, Denny first recorded "Quiet Village" in 1956, on the original mono version of the "Exotica" album. He rerecorded that version in 1958 when the album was issued in stereo, and the song became a hit (where it was then placed on the next upcoming Denny album which neatly took the Quiet Village title).

  2. Wikipedia fails again. Thanks Kevin

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