Five For Friday: Les Baxter

Les Baxter was a big name in 1950’s instrumental pop, and is recognized as one of the initial creators of exotica, a form of music best described as tropical ersatz: it evokes the feel of South Sea islands without actually being authentic South Sea island music. I have selected five songs of his, three of which are exotica, the other two are a movie theme and a standard.

  1. "Ruby": Theme song from the 1952 movie Ruby Gentry which starred Jennifer Jones, Charlton Heston, and Karl Malden. The movie inspired Roberta Lee Streeter to start using the stage name Bobbie Gentry. Some good harmonica from Donny Welton.

  2. "Speak Low": The standard, which Les and his orchestra recorded for their 1954 album Thinking Of You.

  3. "Tahiti: A Summer Night At Sea": From his 1957 album Ports Of Pleasure.

  4. "Shadows Of Love"/"The Enchanted Reef": From 1963’s The Soul Of The Drums.

  5. "Lunar Rhapsody": From 1947’s Music Out Of The Moon. The music was composed by Harry Revel, and is one of the first songs to ue a theremin.

And that’s Five For Friday for August 13, 2021.

3 thoughts on “Five For Friday: Les Baxter

  1. Great songs here by a man I never heard of although i know the first one well. I enjoyed listening to all of them. That last song was very different especially with the eerie alien music or ghostly feel to it.

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    1. The last is an example of “space age pop,” which would probably fit in the category of lounge music or “bachelor pad” music. I kinda get into that…

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