Sunday, September 8, 2013

"The Sound Your Eyes Can Follow"

One of my favorite things to do is dig through old vinyl records in various thrift stores around town. I don't go looking for that rare collector's item that I can resell for a small fortune. Instead I look for music that's going to get played on my stereo at home in my small living room, for an audience of no one but myself. A few weeks ago I was perusing through a stash of records in the back of a hidden thrift store, enjoying some of the vintage covers found therein when I found three records by Esquivel and his Orchestra.

I'd heard of Esquivel before from various "Space-Age Bachelor Pad" collections that I'd picked up in CDs back in the nineties. But this was my first time finding a couple of his albums on vinyl. My first thought is that they were probably trashed, warped and fried, but a quick look at each showed no obvious scratches or warps. My next pleasant surprise was that the woman behind the counter only charged me a buck each for them. Had I been in some hipster cave near a college campus I would have no doubt been asked to shell out an outrageously inflated amount by some pierced and tatted twit only half my age, all for the cost of being cool. Thankfully that wasn't the case. I've got a special trunk of gripes for shop-keepers who think that anything older than 1982 automatically relegates it to "vintage" status, and therefore want to charge folks far far more than the item would ever be worth in the best of conditions. (I'm thinking of one old bookstore owner who slapped a $35 sticker on a 1970's Harlan Ellison paperback with half its back cover torn away!) I see that shit and I let my friends know. But I'm going off the rails here. This is supposed to be about Esquivel and his stereo wizardry.

This is music for hi-fi geeks who probably had the best stereo systems of the day and the worst luck at getting willing women to come in for a listen.

Anyway, somewhere in the nineties there was a resurgent interest in these old records, with their zooming crescendos, exotic instruments, bird-calls, whistles, zu-zu's and feminine breathlessness nuzzling the eardrums. And there is no shortage of stuff out there; from the likes of Esquivel, Martin Denny, Les Baxter, Pete Rugolo, Alvino Rey, Dean Elliott and gang. A whole swath of lounge, exotica and space-age music found an audience all over again. Happy listening...

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