A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.
This early stereo Liberty label pressing has BETTER than Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, earning a sonic grade of A++ to A+++. This is not just another exercise in Bachelor Pad Exotica; there is some fun, swingin’ jazz here. Martin Denny on piano has real jazz chops and sympathetic sidemen to play with.
The music is indeed excellent but the real thrill of course is to hear the richness and sweetness of a 1957 Tubey Magical pressing such as this one. Folks, as you well know, they don’t make ’em like they used to.
Fans of TUBEY MAGIC, Golden Age Exotica or Bang, Baa-room & Harp should find much to like here.
No recordings will ever be made like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. There actually IS a CD of this album, and youtube videos of it too, but nothing beats Hot Stamper vinyl when it comes to Martin Denny.
A++ to A+++, AT LEAST. With top and bottom extension not found on most copies (and not to be found on side one of this very copy). The bass is solid and rich, the music lively and fun. With a correct top end such as this, you can turn this record up good and loud and it just keeps getting better and better, more and more like live music!
A+ to A++, not much high up but very tubey and rich and the stage is huge so 1 1/2 sounds right to us.
Amazon Review (for the CD release)
Much gratitude to Vocalion for issuing as a single disc two-fer these fantastic instrumental albums by Martin Denny from 1963 and 1964. Both of these Liberty label releases came within one and two years of Denny’s #6 hit album (on Billboard), “A Taste of Honey,” so it’s surprising that neither charted, especially given their exceptional quality.
“The Versatile Martin Denny” LP was in my house growing up and still sounds great all these years later, thanks to the flawless digital remastering here. The “Versatile” in the title has to do with the variety of genres the songs represent, including bossa novas (so big at the time) such as “Little Boat” (“O Barquinho”) and Pete Jolly’s “Little Bird.”
Denny also adapted his 1959 “exotica” smash “Quiet Village” to the genre for this release, as well as Schumann’s “Danse Exotique.” There is a cinema theme (“More” from “Mondo Cane”), a jazz standard (Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunisia”), a pair of non-English-language-sourced pop hits (Kyu Sakamoto’s “Sukiyaki” and Brenda Lee’s “Losing You”), a country-pop hit (Skeeter Davis’s “The End of the World”) and a pop-r&b hit (“Our Day Will Come” by Ruby & the Romantics).
But the worth-the-price-of-admission song here is the superlative early Randy Newman jazz composition, “Scarlet Mist.” Why this is not an all-out jazz standard is beyond me. All the songs clock in at under three minutes, as there are no self-indulgent, meandering solos anywhere on this disc. In fact, there are few extended solo parts besides Denny’s always deft ones on piano. He gets right to the point, that being to bring out each lead melody and variation in the most inspired and clever ways.
One very pleasing holdover from his “exotica” super-year of 1959 is the use of vibes as a secondary instrument. Strings are employed to enhance the beauty of several of the selections here, also. If you are principally a fan of avant-garde jazz and are allergic to melodic music, this is NOT the CD for you. If this is what is pejoratively referred to as “cocktail jazz,” then make my Martin Denny CD a double!
Theme from “Mondo Cane” (More)
Exotique Bossa Nova
Our Day Will Come
The End of the World
Quiet Village Bossa Nova
Night in Tunisia