Los Straitjackets

Deke Dickerson Sings the Great Instrumental Hits!!!!!!

Yep Roc

dickersonIt’s like amplifying the experience of hearing Lorne Greene sing the theme to “Bonanza” after only having known it as an instrumental.

Instrumentals have fallen out of fashion over the decades yet fans remain. But the vocal instrumental subgenre is about as esoteric as it gets. And Dickerson — a rockabilly, hillbilly-jazz and surf artist who also collects music outside the norm and beyond — wants to share it via renditions of a few choice examples, with the help of instrumental combo Los Straitjackets.

“Most famous instrumental hits either started out as vocal songs, or — even better — were written as instrumentals, became hits, and then some knucklehead came along and wrote lyrics for them after the fact,” Dickerson explains in the album’s press release.

Songs here originally composed with lyrics are “Theme From a Summer Place,” “Perfidia” and “Misirlou,” given Beach Boys, ska and exotica arrangements, respectively.

The rest are instrumentals that had “knucklehead”-penned lyrics added later. Some of the best are Bill Doggett’s “Honky Tonk” (Doggett himself put out the vocal version as a follow-up single to the instrumental); the Shadows’ “Apache” (uniting disco, hip-hop, surf and country);  “You Can Count on Me” (sung to the tune of the theme from “Hawaii 5-O” and sourced from Sammy Davis Jr.’s 1976 version); and “Popcorn” (the Gershon Kingsley moog classic popularized by Hot Butter and later performed with vocals by French band Anarchic System).

Dickerson limits his guitar work to electric sitar on “Misirlou” but takes his singing seriously. “When I was recording the vocals,” he recalls in the press release, “I kept thinking of the classic Bill Murray ‘Saturday Night Live’ lounge singer bit, and I quickly realized, that’s my role here: I’m here to interpret these familiar melodies in a recognizable fashion, and to embrace the absurdity beneath it all.”

And just as Murray’s Nick Winters pines for “those Star Wars” and pleads, “Don’t let ’em end,” so, too, might listeners of this album of reverently irreverent modifications of long-buried treasure be left wishing for a “Vol. 2” from impresario Dickerson and his lucha libre mask-wearing sidekicks. gnm_end_bug

1. Fury
2. Honky Tonk
3. Magic Star
4. Theme From A Summer Place
5. Perfidia
6. Apache
7. Misirlou
8. Kawanga
9. Wild Weekend
10. You Can Count On Me
11. Walk Don’t Run
12. Popcorn
13. Sleepwalk
14. Pipeline

Total time: 38:30

External links
artist’s website
iTunes Store

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Waitiki 7

Adventures in Paradise

Pass Out

waitiki7The Waitiki 7 are not a revivalist group like Don Tiki — which W7 drummer Abe Lagrimas Jr. was a member of before he and longtime friend/fellow Hawaiian Randy Wong co-founded the original Waitiki quartet — but rather an exotica jam band. The septet updates the genre by augmenting the requisite vibraphone with plenty of sax and violin and often employing dead-serious jazz improvisation.

The disc begins with a lone bird call by Lopaka Colon, son of Martin Denny percussionist/bird caller Augie Colon. As the other players gradually climb aboard and start taking their solos, their interpretation of Les Baxter’s “Coronation” (from his genre-forming 10-inch 1951 debut, “Le Sacre du Sauvage”) leaves no doubt this tiki train is at full steam and bound for paradise.

The vibraphone, piano, trombone and sax solos on “Totem Pole” make it known in no uncertain terms that the band also claims jazz as its forte, in a deft rendition of Lee Morgan’s classic from his 1963 “The Sidewinder” LP.

Another of the album’s half-dozen covers is Baxter’s “The Left Arm of Buddha,” originally a two-minute 1956 single. Here it is stretched out to more than four minutes, featuring an animated vibraphone jam and intoxicating violin flourishes.

“Ouanalao” is a prime example of the group’s original, modernized exotica. W7 saxophonist Tim Mayer’s composition is part avant garde, part smooth jazz and 100% uptempo, nicely set off by a repeating pattern of three descending, extended violin notes.

Classical elements surface on “L’ours Chinois,” a concerto written by musical director/bassist Wong. It begins with a slow solo by Wong’s wife, violinist Helen Liu, but then switches to a traditional Chinese sound before expanding the oriental motif through alternating Quintette du Hot Club de France- and Maurice Ravel-inspired movements.

Other in-house compositional contributions include Jim Benoit’s xylophone workout, “Ned’s Redemption,” which would be well-suited as accompaniment to a Keystone Cops reel; and Zaccai Curtis’ piano work on his Latinesque “Craving,” which leaves the listener doing just that for more.

The album’s denouement is the title track, an instrumental version of Lionel Newman’s theme to James Michener’s “Adventures in Paradise,” the 1959-62 ABC series about a sea captain who roves the South Pacific on a schooner named (what else?) Tiki III. Arthur Lyman, the Ventures, Henry Mancini and even the Mermen have recorded this amazing song, and W7 are worthy of their company.

In true jam-band spirit, the website for W7’s parent collective, www.waitiki.com, streams live tracks from last summer’s Wassermusik Festival in Berlin at the House of World Cultures (pictured on “Paradise’s” cover). Here’s hoping it continues to add live tracks as the band tours. Better yet, it could encourage audience taping and allow performances to be posted at archive.org’s Live Music Archive and/or throw fans a bone by posting a soundboard recording to LMA directly.gnm_end_bug

1. Coronation
2. Totem Pole
3. Manila
4. Craving
5. Left Arm Of Buddha
6. Her Majesty’s Pearl
7. Ouanalao
8. L’ours Chinois
9. Ned’s Redemption
10. Sacha-Cha
11. Octopus Menagerie
12. Mood Indigo
13. Adventures In Paradise

Total time: 1:01:59

External links
artist’s website

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