Martin Denny / Exotica – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

This second label very quiet Liberty Stereo LP has at least Super Hot Stamper EXOTIC SOUND on both sides, with a side two that may be White Hot. It’s hard to know for sure whether side two can get any better than this — it’s pretty darn amazing, some of the most Magically Delicious sound we played in our recent shootout.  

Recorded in 1958, you can imagine there is a healthy amount of Tubey Magical richness and sweetness, although this second label copy seems to be cut a bit more cleanly and correctly than some of the first label Denny records we auditioned. The tonality is dead on the money, a quality that the most tubey recordings rarely exhibit; they can easily get overly lush and appear murky.

We played a big pile of Martin Denny records during our shootout, not having enough clean copies of any one of them to do it the way we would with rock or jazz records, and this pressing was one of the best we heard.

Picture yourself on a beautiful South Pacific island. Now imagine you’re in a jazz bar on the mainland. Combine the two moods into one glorious sound and you have the music of Martin Denny! 

Side Two

A++ to A+++ and maybe better, this side has a lovely extended bottom and top end, something I’m guessing the original pressings would not be able to claim, having been cut on the cruder equipment of the late’50s. 3-D, openness, spaciousness — it’s all here.

Tracks two is DEMO DISC QUALITY, so clear and big, track one not so much.

Side One

A++, some of the better Denny sound we’ve heard. As we are fond of saying, no recordings will ever be made like this again, and no CD will ever be able to capture what is in the grooves of this record.

It’s open and clear, with an extended top and bottom. A little more Tubey Magic and it would have been White Hot.


Side One

Quiet Village 
Return to Paradise 
Hong Kong Blues 
Busy Port 
Lotus Land 

Side Two

Stone God 
Jungle Flower 
China Nights 
Ami Wa Furi 
Love Dance

AMG Review

Exotica introduced the hit “Quiet Village,” catapulted the ersatz musical idiom of the same name, and brought much attention to the Martin Denny Group from visitors to the group’s base in Hawaii. Even the gorgeous jacket photo — of “exotica girl” Sandy Warner peeking out from a bamboo curtain — is a classic of the era.

With an assortment of titles like “Burma Train”, “M’Gambo Mambo”, “Bangkok Cockfight,” “Dites Moi,” “Jamaica Farwell,” “Flamingo,” and “M’Bira,” it’s apparent that Denny was trying to be all things to all people here. It is one of his more diverse outings, though, if only for the sheer variety of instruments employed. Say what you will about the cheesiness of this pseudo-world music, Denny deserves some sort of credit for bringing instruments like the m’bira, Burmese gongs, koto, Buddhist prayer bowls, and “primitive log from New Guinea” into the mainstream. They can all be heard on this album, and some of the cuts are among the artist’s most rhythmic efforts.