Tommy Sands, Dream With Me
– Who knew? Created as Capitol Records’ answer to Elvis Presley, this former child-hillbilly-singer grew on up to become second to only the King in terms of popularity for a short while. This double album containing both Tommy’s Dream With Me and his Thinking Of You is very good. Born in Chicago but raised by mom in Shreveport, LA, one would expect to hear at least a bit of his former twang sneak through on his later vocals, but you don’t. Tommy Sands voice is pure honey on all twenty-three tracks presented here. Both albums were recorded after his mid-to-late 50’s dip into a country-esque ‘ rock ‘n roll pool. These are cocktail albums, no doubt about it. I believe that Tommy was attempting to reinvent himself into a more night-clubby, sophisticated package and he very much succeeds here. This is soft, sentimental singing best listened to on rainy evenings with more intimate company. Not as schmaltzy as early Mathis or Debbie Reynolds, Tommy Sands has a true smoky lounge sensibility that deserves a spot on your turntable. He was married for a short while to Nancy Sinatra and rumor has it that her Father took it very personally when they divorced and made it a point to get Tommy black-balled in the industry. Just a rumor, mind you, but Tommy went nowhere fast after the split, which blows for us. I for one, would love a thick stack of Tommy Sands’ records to play during my cocktail hour. No finger-snappers on this disk, just heavy-orchestrated by Nelson Riddle, beautifully sung songs which will so take you back. Songs include Far Away Places, Dream, Fools Rush In, and more.
Tex Beneke and His Orchestra, ‘S Wonderful, Rare Recordings of the 1950’s – I love Tex Beneke’s voice on Glenn Millar albums. I know, I know, he blew a mean sax, but even more so, I adore his huckleberry way with a vocal. He’s a darn time-machine when you hear him sing on Chattanooga Choo-Choo so much that he easily transfers my mind-s eye to a 40’s train station and how it must have been. Tex sang with an "awww-shucks’ demeanor that really warms the heart. He was also a masterful bandleader and saxophonist. With this collection, you get all three hats. With Twenty-Seven Tracks, you really get your money’s worth with this disk. Eleven Beneke’ vocals are included, plus plenty of Big-Band stylized arrangements & sax. Vocalists Ray Eberle, Bill Raymond & Betsy Gay round out the singing on a few other tunes. If you like Big-Band and Glenn Millar albums, and are interested in seeing where Tex "went with it" before diving more into production. This is a wonderful musical trip. Songs include Blue Moon, You Blew Out The Flame, Danny’s Hideaway, and more.
Steve and Eydie, Cozy – They have their place, no doubt about it. On their solo albums, both Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme more than hold their own in terms of semi-sophisticated, cocktail party background … but when famously teamed-up, the couple often caught lightening in a bottle as this album clearly demonstrates. Cocktail music collectors should be more than reminded of their place with Cozy. This double album CD combines both their Cozy and Two on the Aisle records and, for me, it’s plenty of Steve & Eydie for a night’s entertainment. With this one you get both a nice, snappy collection of American Songbook tunes plus the best of Broadway showstoppers from the late 50’s, early 60’s era. They play off of each other throughout, capturing that free and easy style that a husband & wife team, with a few years under their belts only can. Eydie Gorme had a beautiful, up-beat voice that perfectly teams with the choice in material. Steve Lawrence has the perfect pop-pipes that accented her modern mood perfectly. Fun!. Songs include Make Someone Happy, A Fine Romance, and A Lot Of Livin’ To Do.
Connie Francis, Do The Twist – Connie’s something of an odd duck, in my opinion. She almost sells a song too strongly for me, yet she does have her place and, at one time, was a huge recording star with tons of fans and loads of radio play. This is a 1962 collection of dance songs intentionally recorded to get young adults off the sofa, away from the soda-pop and canapés and onto the living room floor for some swinging. She gives 110% with this try and while riding a wave of popularity at the time, almost tries to prove herself all over again with her rock ‘n roll interpretations. You’ll giggle at the over-the-top nostalgia of it all, but you’ll definitely have some fun too. Connie can more than carry a tune and this wacky collection will turn your patio cocktail gathering into quite an experience. With thirty diddies on this one, your guests will have more than enough time to digest the vibe and grow to "get it". I blast my copy just to freak out the neighbors. Songs include Telephone Lover, Teach Me How To Twist, & the classic Hey Ring-A-Ding and more.
Al Martino, Makin’ Whoopee! – And he does just that on this collection of Al’s early 20th Century Fox recordings. Al 1950’s gets down on this one and you’ll be right there with him when you put this one on your hi-fi. Like slow love itself, Al Martino wines, dines then takes us up to his 16th floor apartment with his song-bird attention to detail and nuance. His voice is intentional, Italian and cool as blue smoke on this ode to late nights out on the town. You have to buy it at Collectors Choice Music but the albums more than worth a stroll on over. A shank-o-the-evening record if ever there was one, I’ll put Al Martino on when the coffee & liqueurs are broken out and you’re an hour away from looking at your watch a lot. Songs include I Can’t Get You Out Of My Heart, That Old Feeling, and It Had To Be You.
TV Town – Yet another member of this lounge collection that you just have to throw on in the background. This one’s fun when you’re having a few other couples over for Bridge and drinks, the guys over for poker, or just a few friends over for Chile and Dark Beers. This album can, at times, shut down conversation…but in a good and fun way. Your guests, especially after a few, will be musically forced to discuss or verbally remember how old they were, how this one reminds them of their parents, or how freakin’ good the show was when they here the stylized, cocktail inspired reworking of the themes from The Odd Couple, Mannix, Bewitched, Dick Van Dyke, The Mod Squad and more. This is not a collection of songs ripped directly from actual shows, it’s a orchestrated collection of music reworked by composers of the past for radio and nightclub play. The songs swing…yet remind. A must own.
Bachelor Pad Royale – Sexy and silly, this CD is absolute boozy, thrilling, titillating, background music for a party. This is the one you throw on when your planning on being busy at the bar for 40 minutes and simply need some old-school sipping music on. Combine some soft blue light bulbs and 2 fifths of gin and you really have something with this record. It has the Theme from the king of all 60’s Spy movies, James Coburn’s Our Man Flint (trust me, you’ll be hitting the replay button a lot). Playboy’s Theme, Harlem Nocturne, Theme from Route 66, A Shot In The Dark, and more, all add up to make this one you should actively seek out. These are the cool songs you just can’t find anymore, yet so need in terms of pure vibe. They’ll truly help mix the evening.
On The Rocks – This collection wins for most strange. This is an Ultra-Lounge collection of Classic Rock songs done by lounge singers, crooners and band-leaders back in the 60’s. Imagine a tuxedo sporting, finger-snappin’ love-song vocalist quietly panicking when he/she first heard Jim Morrison and The Doors firing outbreak On Through, Peggy Lee hyperventilating after being bombarded at her niece’s party with a screaming Beatles diddy, Mel Torme steadying his nerves with a bourbon shot after hearing The Stones, As Tears Go By on the radio in his air-conditioned Caddie, you get the picture…they probably freaked then came out swinging with their own versions of this teen-age music.
A backyard barbeque, bourbon and gingers and Mel Torme singin’ Sunshine Superman, what more could you ask for? Peggy Lee’s A Hard Day’s Night, The Letterman getting down with Hello, I Love You, Henry Jerome jiving out to Stevie Wonder’s Uptight (Everything Is Alright). This is some wacky stuff here folks. Can be a lotta fun with some proper cocktails. Hint hint. There’s even a Volume Two if you can’t get enough.
Mondo Hollywood – I’ll leave the Ultra-Lounge collection with this one. Talking movies and drinking, the two often walk hand in hand. Back in the 50’s and 60’s, studios were just as concerned about a film’s score as they were about plot and star. We’ve deffinately lost something with today’s movies. Sure, we all know the music from Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Halloween, but can you sit down with your wife or husband and loose yourself while looking into each other’s eyes while they softly play in the background? Nope.
Billy May’s Girl Talk, Martin Denny’s Cool, Mancini’s Moon River were all grown-up songs for adult, sophisticated movie-goers. The Themes from The Apartment, The Pink Panther and The Days of Wine and Roses are all represented. This is an album of rich, smoky music ideal for good drinks and close friends. Perfect for the home bar.
Calypso Is Like So… – Robert Mitchum. Yup, that’s what I wrote…Robert Mitchum, the same one who stars in all those killer Film Noir films. He actually recorded a Calypso record back in 1957. This record works well on so many levels here are a few – The songs are f-u-n, fun. Mitchum even tries to sing with a Trinidadian accent. Beauty Is Only Skin Deep, From a Logical Point of View, Mama Looks Boo Boo, and the wonderfully boozy Coconut Water, will leave you scratching your head, laughing and enjoying the evening thoroughly. This album was made for Tiki Drinks, meat on the grill and silly shirts. A must own for your retro bar.
June’s Got Rhythm – June Christy is truly one of the great overlooked Female Singers of the 50’s and 60’s. Her voice is an instrument. She is the Grace Kelly of Female Singers, a sadly forgotten beam of light. You must, must have at least one of her records for your bar. She’s a bit of an acquired taste but it will only take a martini. This is the album to put on when you want to have a deep, intoxicating conversation with your girl or boyfriend over drinks. This is the record you listen to while having that drink with another couple before you step out into the night. It’s soft, sexy, American vocal-jazz at it’s best. She sings better then Julie London, Fran Warren, and Doris Day. Christy took enormous chances with her choice in songs and the way she sang ‘em and you’ll love her for it.
This is a go-to album for right after it gets dark in the Summer time. You’ll recognize a lot of the American Songbook in this CD. Songs like The Gypsy In My Soul, They Can’t Take That Away From Me, Baubles Bangles and Beads and Blue Moon will make you feel snug and familiar while sipping your drink, However, it’s the I’m Glad There Is You, When The Lights Are Low and Aren’t You Glad Your You? Songs and a few more like them that will surprise and amaze you. A beautiful record to have a drink with.
Gone For The Day and Fair And Warmer June Christy – The misty Ms. Christy earns another mention. What can I say…I love this singer and she goes so well with a night of cocktails and canapé’s. This is a double-album so you do get a lot of bang for your buck.
June Christy is unlike any singer I go back to because she’s so much more of a jazz instrument than a person with a pretty voice. Special’s too weak a word when describing her. ‘Unique’, ‘Complex’, ‘Effervescent’, are more the words I’d choose. This record is another ideal one for your cocktail party. Just throw it on midway through and go back to hosting. The music will take care of itself. It’s light fun and up tempo. The songs you know, like Imagination, Give Me The Simple Life and I’ve Never Been In Love Before are surrounded by standards you and your guests may not have yet heard, songs like No More, It’s Always You and Lost In A Summer Night. Regardless of weather you’ve heard all the songs before, you will before too long because this is a record you’ll come back to.
Rain Forest – Walter Wanderly. What a strange and cool record this one is. As a young lad, Mr. Booze used to sit at the top of his parent’s steps during their cocktail parties and hear this record along with snippets of party conversation. For me, this record was made for people to laugh, talk and drink with. Rain Forest is pure, 60’s cool organ music that runs thick and hip with Brazilian Bossa Nova. It’s music dominates during a party or get together yet still leaves plenty of room for the sound of ice clinking in a glass, the doorbell, the shriek of a boozy broad or the shout-out for another drink. You’ll feel absolutely wonderful listening to this record, I promise. A few musical standards ; The Girl From Ipanema and Call Me, are surrounded by melodic mysteries like Summer Samba, Song of the Jet and Rain. Non-experimental, you won’t be at a loss when these songs start up. They’ll fit right in like the old, classic drinks your pouring.
Mel Torme Songs Of New York – One of the only famous crooners who I didn’t take to at first. It took some time and a few years of appreciation for this complex singer to grow on my. Songs of New York is exactly what it sounds like, a collection of NYC inspired songs complex enough to stand up to a serious night of drinking and eating. The perfect drink with this disk, a Manhattan of course. Sunday in New York, My Time of Day, Autumn in New York, Torme tackles them all. You’ll want to hop a train, hit the club car and order up a cold cocktail while taking in the skyscrapers. A great cocktail album.
Swingin’ On The Moon, Mel Torme – Yet another 60’s Torme’ theme album and another that positively works. Mel uses songs celebrating The Moon with this record. Moonlight Cocktails, No Moon At All, How High The Moon, Moonlight In Vermont, all combine for a sophisticated, clever vibe at a get together. This is definitely a martini album. A soft record that holds its own through a noisy, boozy party, I like this record very much and so will you. Wild that this is the second album here with a space-girl on the cover. There’ll be more.
The Movie Song Album – Tony Bennett – Not a bad record to pour a drink alone to. As you may have gathered, I’m a sucker for a well written movie song, especially if I liked the film. There’s a ton of great Bennett albums out there and this is one of the tops. His version of Girl Talk from Harlow is the best version of this song ever recorded. Sure it’s a bit sexist but that’s o-k, it’s a different world and sometimes it’s nice to take a look back. The Shadow Of Your Smile from The Sandpiper is my absolute favorite Tony Bennett recording, absolutely haunting. Emily, from The Americanization of Emily, is an equally beautiful ballad. I could go on but won’t. This is a beautiful record, my favorite by the Singer. Mr. Booze isn’t a big proponent of drinking alone, it’s rarely a good idea. However, if your in a introspective mood and will be meeting folks later for fun, a whisky rocks and The Movie Song Album work very well together.
Behind the Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart – Mr. Booze can slip a classic 1960’s Comedy Album into the pot if he wants to, as long as it goes well with strong drinks, why not? I won’t take long with this one. Make a stiff, early 60’s drink like an Old-Fashioned or a Gibson, leave your jaded sarcastic modern mind in the closet, invite some pals over for poker and play this album when you break for sandwiches and more drinks.
Funny and a hilarious Time-Machine.
Time For Love, The Best of Julie London – Not Mr. Booze’ favorite female singer but I gotta say, when Julie London hits it, she hits it. You don’t need to track down all her vinyl or available CD’s or downloads, this Best-Of cd more than does the job. This a great disk to play at the shank of the night, the last call before you put the cat out and point the stragglers towards the door. Not an up tempo song in the bunch but boy, are they perfect for a nightcap. She’s a very sexy and smoky singer. The Type of voice you’ll feel like taking care of. Songs like No Moon At All, ‘Round Midnight, The Thrill Is Gone and A Cottage For Sale are all wonderful periods at the end of the night’s sentence. A “Last Call” record.
The Wham of Sam – Sammy Davis Jr. This man is not a sidekick. If you think of Sammy Davis Jr. as the dancing leg of the Rat Pack, then you owe it to yourself to start exploring his library. He was a fabulous Jazz Singer and his music goes extremely well with subdued light, smoky rooms, light canapés and cold cocktails. This entire album is worth playing from beginning to end, not a stale song in the bunch. Sammy’s 1st song on the record, A Lot Of Living To Do, will absolutely get your party started and set the entire mood for the evening. He swings and struts his way though and you can’t help but be in a great mood halfway in. Begin The Beguine and My Romance will let you catch your breath and concentrate, once again on the drinks but hurry because a few minutes later he launched in to Too Close For Comfort and your guests will be ready for another. This is an elegant, exciting album for grown-ups enjoying themselves.
Pretty Baby / This Time I’m Swingin’ Dean Martin. – Gosh, where to start with Dean? I guess with this record. It’s a double album so you get a lot of bang for your buck. Deano never sounded more suave or in the know as he does with this CD. It’s a great cocktail party ice-breaker. The album to put on when the guests are dropping their coats off on the bed, the shaker’s just finishing off the first batch and the doorbell’s still chiming. Dean Martin music was absolutely recorded to enjoy while drinking, no two ways about it. You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You, Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone. I Don’t Know Why, Pretty Baby are all standards. But I tell ya, when Dean Martin’s singing them, it’s like hearing ‘em all over again for the 1st time. Drink, be merry and listen to this Dean Martin cd.
Dean Martin Live At The Sands Hotel (An Evening of Music, Laughter and Hard Liquor) – Pretty much exactly what you think it is, this record is made to drink lots to.
Recorded in 1964 with a piano and small orchestra, this sounds a lot like it was recorded at one of the famous and long gone Hotel Lounges. It sounds like a fairly small room.
Dean is on fire with this one. Cracking jokes, changing the words of standard songs suggesting naughty behavior, this album is like a recorded 60’s stag party. Great for a poker game, boy’s night or impromptu evening with close friends, this is a booze-soaked
Salute to days gone by. Songs include That’s Amore, On A Slow Boat To China, Memories Are Made Of This and You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby. The words slurred, fumbled and dirtied up on all of them. Hilarious.
Gene Krupa Drum Boogie, Best of the Big Bands – Here’s THE Drummer. If you don’t know about the Big Band Legend, it’s time you learned. Gene Krupa played the drums like he was born to do nothing else. This is another cocktail party album, perfect for a night of drinking and enjoying.
What I adore about this record is that it’s not just a Drum album. The record explodes with standard Big-Band music only with a strong skin vibe. Different, nostalgic, captivating, and fresh, if you like brassy, thumping jazz this is for you. Build some more 40’s and 50’s sounds around it and you’ll really have an evening. Drum Boogie, Sweet Georgia Brown, No Name Jive all blast heavy with a serious, serious drumming emphasis. Fun and then some.
From Another World – This record is so cool, so 50’s, so far-out, that after your guests finish listening to it they’ll want another go along with another round. Outer Space, Sputnik, Atom splitting, these were the things on the minds of yesterday’s drinker.
Conductor Sid Bass realized this and built an entire album of popular standards with odd, space-aged sounds and instruments. Don’t get me wrong, the music actually flows very well. Imagine standards like Old Devil Moon, How High The Moon. Star Dust and My Blue Heaven being played by a band out of the old cartoon The Jetsons and there you have it. Campy, cool fun for your next gathering.
Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – Mr. Booze is by no means making a push for this word to come back. It served its purpose back in the 1960’s and died. Yet, here I go ‘cause it’s the one word which truly describes this amazing recording …Groovy. This cd is groovy. If you’ve seen the 1st Austin Power’s movie, then you’ve heard the kick-off song in this album. In the montage scene where Austin and Vanessa stroll through Vegas while casino names and bright lights fly by, Mas Que Nada sets the tone in the background. With a heavy Latin beat thumping though most of the songs and a driving piano base, the harmonies of the singers combine to create a thrilling, long gone sound. Yet another album that shines during a cocktail party or decent size gathering. It’ll be difficult to not shake the chrome shaker in rhythm with the music on this disk.
Astrud Gilberto’s Finest Hour – Here’s another exotic entry into the cocktail music scene. One I feel more than serves it’s purpose. Astrud Gilberto is best known for being the soft sounding, sexy singer on Stan Getz’ version of The Girl From Ipanema. She does pique one’s interest in the singing of that song. On this record she proves that she can seduce with a song over and over again. Apparently, an undiscovered singing housewife, she rose to fame with the Getz’ song (which is on this disk) and launched into a successful 1960’s career. I’ll warn you, this record is extremely soft. You won’t be finger-snapping or mamboing to this one. This is a CD to listen to with a few close friends and a night of cocktails. This is a personal album with that retro grove that so goes with the flavors of the evening.
Bobby Darin: Love Swings – Now here’s an up-tempo, cool as winter record that will have you and your guests absolutely ready to pour down some classic cocktails. Darin was just such a damned good singer in every sense of the word. You can hear the times in his voice, a post-war, ring-a-ding optimism. He drives most of the songs on this record well over the speed limit and I guarantee that this is the album to get the night started and your guests ready for a good time. He was the classic crooner. Long Ago And Far Away done with just such a bang, I Didn’t Know What Time It Was, Just Friends, How About You and more done in a jazzy, 60’s style that calls for old martini glasses and lots of fun.
The Swinging Side of Bobby Darin – How come no one swings anymore? Half of Mr. Booze’ records have the word swing or swingin’ in them. What was it about the 60’s and swinging? I don’t know but I do know it’s a blast and an absolute necessity to have a few of these records near your home bar. This effort by Bobby Darin really ..ummm…swings.
What else can I say about this walking, talking firecracker? You simply must own some of his music. This one’s pure Saturday night. I Got Rhythm, I’m Beginning To See The Light, Just In Time, Make Someone Happy, Hello Young Lovers, I could go on. Sport-Jacket, skinny-Tie, Cuff-Links optional with this album.
Blues In The Night Johnny Mercer – The night my Daughter was born, I poured a drink and listened to this album as sort of a mini celebration, the calm before the storm of not enough sleep and diapers and boys in 15 years. This is a great whiskey record, a great autumn album. It has that 40’s feel that goes very well with beer, both regular and ginger, rye and peanuts. Mercer, while just one of the most accomplished songwriters that ever lived, also had a damn nice voice. A sleepy Southern drawl wrapped around some of the most wonderful tunes in the American Songbook will assure you that you made a good choice in picking up this one. Here are just a few of the gems on this disk –
Candy (accompanied by Jo Stafford), One For My Baby, Blues In The Night, Candy, Java Jive and Accentuate The Positive. A bunch of optimistic, great sounding songs you should have by the bar.
Come Swing With Me Frank Sinatra – As an appreciator of Classic Cocktails as I know you are, I almost didn’t want to bring him up. He’s almost too obvious of a choice. I know that you already have some of Sinatra’s recordings at home. I know you play ‘em while you have a drink. Having said that, Mr. Booze also knows that he’s gotta mention him. Frank Sinatra is to drinking and sitting at a bar what Babe Ruth is to Baseball. The two were made for each other. I feel foolish recommending Sinatra and any one disk. They all can be enjoyed while bending an elbow … some, more than others. This is a great one. It really swings. Day By Day, Almost Like Being In Love, That Old Black Magic, I’ve Heard That Song Before…what can I say? great drinking music. This is the great stuff to have on hand when friends come a calling for a night of cheer and booze.
Come Fly With Me Frank Sinatra – “If you can use some exotic booze, there’s a bar in far Pompeii.” Kinda sums it up in a nutshell. This is a Sinatra abum you gotta own. He’s at the top of his game with this one. Climb up the rickety Pan Am metal staircase, take your seat, pour a drink and fly away with Frank. Be sure to bring some friends because this trip is a ball. An album worth a second go ‘round at a party or boozy gathering, each song an ode to travel. On The Road To Mandalay, Brazil, Come Fly With Me and Let’s Get Away From It All will have your guests chirping on about where they’ve been and the drinks they had while there. A perfect record for your bar is this.
Cycles Frank Sinatra – After a drink or two, while I’m listening to this record, I imagine that Frank must have recorded this around the time of his troubled marriage with Mia. It just has this certain feel about it that no other Sinatra album has. It’s as if this guy in his 40’s was attempting to prove himself youthfully introspective, almost hippy like to his decades younger wife. He succeeds on a weird level. His maturity and life experience carry through the music. He may have been wearing turtlenecks and sporting Love-Beads while he sang these songs, but underneath, he was still Sinatra. This may very well be another record where it’s alright to have a drink alone while your listening to it or enjoy with Harvey Wallbangers and a bunch of comrades, your choice. From Both Sides Now, Little Green Apples, Buy The Time I Get To Phoenix all well sung 60’s pop classics with a cool Sinatra twist. Cycles is the song that’ll get to you if you’re of a certain age and have had a few. A bold choice in records to play while having a few, but one you’ll enjoy.
Swingin’ Soft Drink Spots of the 60’s – This is not an album of music but Mr. Booze has to bring it to your attention. I’ll be quick. When I’m having a night of classic cocktails or Tiki Drinks and there’s a definite 60’s feel to the music, food and drinks. The retro barware is sparkling and vibe is Kennedy era, throw this one on as a mix with 4 or 5 60’s era cd’s. It’s nothing more than a cool little accent when your disk player’s on random select. To hear Petula Clark and Nat King Cole singing Coke-Cola jingles between songs during a vintage little get together you’re throwing, adds tremendously. One of those cool little things that will make your home bar a little more wild.
Jack Jones Sings Michel LeGrand – LeGrand was a huge composer back in the day with hits in movies like McQueen’s The Thomas Crown Affair. Jack Jones has one of the best voices of any singer I’ve listened to. I recently saw Jack Jones live and was just blown away by a few of these songs. They are reflective in the way a drink, at the proper time will sometimes cause an inward look. This is an album to share with a person your close with. Pour a couple of Vesper Martinis and you two sit down with this one and a fireplace. The Windmills of Your Mind, What Are You Doing For The Rest Of Your Life? and One At A Time must be heard…beautiful.
Nat King Cole Sings For Two In Love (And More) – How good do you want it with your autumn cocktail? Nat King Cole and a heavy strings orchestra being conducted by the legendary Nelson Riddle makes this CD a must have for your bar. I mentioned autumn earlier because this record contains, which should only be listened to between September and January. It’s a song that should be savored like summer strawberries. Dinner For One, Let’s Fall In Love and Love Is Here To Stay make this album required listening with a Ginger Sanagree, or a Brandy Alexander and a nice fire but then you have a heavy brass, swinging version of Almost Like Being In Love and you know you really have something with this record. Great for any social gathering, this album’s a winner.
Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs Marty Robbins – This is one of my favorite drinking albums. Marty Robbins was a damned Cowboy when he sang these songs.
From the 50’s, when Westerns ruled at the box office and on TV, this collection is a real celebration of your Dad and his Dad’s generations. I can imagine, back in 1950’s suburbia, neighborhood Joes gathered in an unfinished basement, drinking Tom Collins, cans of cold beer, playing cards and listening to this record. El Paso is the Song of Songs on this album; the dying lament of a gut-shot Cowboy, fatally in love. Cool Water, A Hundred and Sixty Acres, Billy The Kid all add up for a fun, retro listening experience.
This is a 1950’s Country and Western record that still can really entertain.
John Coltrane And Johnny Hartman – I’m at a loss as to why more folks haven’t heard of Jazz Singer, Johnny Hartman. He had a beautifully rich, deep, cigarette stained voice that owned every song he touched. He sand like he had all the time in the world and when he teamed up with tenor sax legend John Coltrane and pianist McCoy Tyner you get one of the best vocal jazz albums ever recorded. You can’t be in a rush or have places to go while listening, mix a glass pitcher of sweet Manhattans, invite a friend or two over, smoke ‘em if you got ‘em and relax. I have yet to devote space to the serious Jazz albums recorded back when, and their special place by your lounge, but I intend to. This record belongs near the top of that project. Lush Life, Autumn Serenade, They Say It’s Wonderful are three of the six songs found on this glorious record. I highly recommend this one.
Ella Swings Brightly With Nelson – You need at the very least, one Ella Fitzgerald album to play while your mixing drinks. She was a master of the American Songbook, one of the best, with a voice like no one else. She teams with Sinatra’s great Conductor, Nelson Riddle on this one. This is a classic sound with popular music royalty teaming up for an album sung by a woman but with the strong-lined edge of Riddle’s arranging.
I Won’t Dance, Mean To Me, The Gentlemen Is A Dope (A sort of direct response to Sinatra’s The Lady Is A Tramp), Alone Together have that Sinatra feel to them but become so unique when sung by Ella. These are drinking music recommendations and this absolutely works when entertaining or just enjoying a drink yourself.
Foursider Herb Albert And The Tijuana Brass – I have all of Herb Albert’s records and love ‘em. He’s a big part of the 60’s in my mind and while too young to drink back then, my Dad sure did and with his friends by his side, listened to a hell of a lot of Tijuana Brass records. So, I guess you could say I have a strong association with this music. There just always seemed to be a party going on as I remember this music. Herb’s versions of What Now My Love, Casino Royale, Sunny and especially Without Her, I strongly associate with beers being opened with a church-key, big sunglasses, cigarettes and backyard barbeques. This album still works. With a from scratch Margarita, You’ll have some happy folks on your hands. You just gotta have some Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass in your house. With 21 songs on the disk, most of them familiar, this is the one to start with. I have it on CD so it’s out there. Currently unavailable. Vinyl if you have a record player and you should.
These Ghoulish Things – It’s an import and kind of expensive but I promise you one thing, you won’t need another CD for your Halloween Party. This record has ‘em all. Besides the prerequisite Monster Mash by Bobby Pickett, this CD contains 27 more rock ‘n roll 50’s and 60’s monster songs recorded during the heyday of the Universal and B Studio, Monster Movie Craze. Frankenstein’s Party, Drac’s Back, Coolest Little Monster, The Voo Doo Walk and more songs that you’ve never heard will have all your drinking buddies thinking “how cool is this?” Nothing more than Halloween fun…but what the hell’s wrong with that?
Christmas Cocktails V 1, 2 & 3 – I’ll be quick and to the point with these. You want to have a 85 proof Christmas party, you’ve planned the menu, the drinks to pour and what kitschy decorations to hang. All you need are party appropriate X-Mas songs to play. Throw these disks in with your regular Christmas album rotation. You’ve heard a lot of them, Deano’s Rudolph, Nat Cole’s The Christmas Song, Peggy Lee’s Winter Wonderland, but there are plenty of rum soaked selections you may not have heard.
Warm December by Julie London, Wayne Newton’s version of Jingle Bell Rock, Exotic Night by Martin Denny all add up to a cool Christmas play list. You have enough to worry about throwing a X-Mas bash, don’t let the music be one of your worries.
Lucky Luck, The Best of Lucky Luck –
Lucky Luck, The Best of Lucky Luck – If you’re looking for an obscure, hardcore tiki type album to play at your next tiki party, one with a strong old-school vibe yet fun, interesting, and thematically island-centric, Luky Luck may be your guy. I have a lot of Hawaii themed music on vinyl (Ed “Kamanaloha” Kenney & The Hilo Hawaiians, for example), but unlike that older stylized sound which blends in with a party, Lucky Luck is more of a guest. Let’s face it, tiki drink themed parties are never quiet affairs and rum drinks, torches, grilled pork, and tiki mugs require a musical vibe that this Waco, Texas to Hawaii transplant provides. Learning the Samoan language well enough to score a gig as a translator during WWII & being buddies with the Gov. of Hawaii led to a strong career in aloha culture. He’s kind of an Island-themed balladeer & folk artist combo, who sing/talks his way through such chestnuts, or should I say coconuts, like Mynah Bird, Hapa Hapa Hula Girl, & Kanaka Nui Hotel. He’s straight out of the fifties with his jokes, and “hey, brudda,” and rowdy background singers & crowds. A Hawaiian Phil Harris would be a good comparison. Get this while you can.
Sven A. Kirsten Presents The Sound Of Tiki –
When I recently heard that the pop-tiki-writer-guru of Polynesian culture had created a collection on disk of what, he considers, absolute tiki classics, I didn’t just bite, I dove in and ordered it. It’s just a killer tiki-themed album, definitely the best I own and so chock full of themed classics that you could, if necessary, just play this one over and over again at your next tiki-drink party, or while you’re just having a couple at home. Gold, I tells ya, gold. Don Ho singing the Hawaii 5-0 theme, original tiki restaurant commercial themes, Martin Denny & Les Baxter classics & even the seldom-heard yet important first hippy turned Island beat poet & crooner, Eden Ahbez. Throw in a few more Hawaiian themed detective show themes and a few more equally entertaining gems, and man, do you have a record on your hands. The filler pages or classic tiki & Hawaii themed pop-art & album covers will more than entertain you should you be sipping alone. Sven wrote The Book of Tiki, Modern Tiki, & Tiki Style, all considered classics, so he more than knows what he’s talking about. I honestly hope he follows this CD up with another volume ’cause it’s so darned good. If you ever mix juice with your rum, buy this record.
Dick Dale, Dick Dale At The Drags –
This is a cold beer album if there ever was one. An entire rockabilly styled record built entirely around the theme of fast, souped-up cars. Dick’s a Fender guitar genius and he plays like his fingers are on fire, leaving most other California style guitarists & guitar bands behind in his exhaust trail. Far from the traditional lounge. swing, jazz and crooner sounds I review here, I still feel that this guitar & rhythm jacked sound has its place in your home bar or garage bench. It’s fast, fun, retro-chilly and, like I said, will go great with a couple cold beers on a late Saturday afternoon. If you dig the old cars like I do, and an old Rock ‘n Roll sound, Dick will certainly take you there. Songs include Wild, Wild Mustang, 50 Miles To Go, Big Black Cad, & more.
Toni Arden, This Is Toni Arden –
Slowin’ things way, way down with this next pick. Tony Arden was a singer from back in the day who can best be compared to Margaret Whiting, Jerry Southern and Dinah Shore. She has that 40’s living room quality which I enjoy on rainy evenings with a classic drink of the same era. We lost her last year at 88, and really, I believe she was one of the last surviving songbird, Big Band singers which America cherished some sixty years ago. I refuse to let this style of singing and innocence through song vanish from our homes. Optimistic, heavily stylized, lilting and beautiful, this type of singer, and Toni’s a fantastic one, reminds the listener of our jazz singers’ beginnings. Everything, as long as love was involved, was put into the lyrics and interpretation by these women. I thank them every time my needle hits the vinyl. Songs include Too Late Now, Wonder Why, Rain, & more.