Various – The Leopard Lounge

The Leopard LoungeLike most of the cool things in life, the swining/lounge scene seems to have passed me by. First I heard about it was on blogs like Boing Boing and Tiki Bar Tv. It was a celebration of some classic music, cocktails and and Bettie Page. What I wanted to know is was it just irony. I mean, surely no one actually likes all those old songs from the 50’s and 60’s? Spurred on by morbid curiosity, I bought the 2 disc compilation and was pleasantly surprised. I was expecting to have 2 discs of obscure bossanova and exotica tracks, but there’s some big name artists on this compilation; Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald and Dionne Warwick. Not the type of thing your indie hipster admits to listening to, but the quality is pretty high considering the number of tracks on the album. It’s mix of soul, bossanova, lounge and exotica gives off a great vibe which is perfect for the cocktail swinging bachelor.

The album’s split about 70/30 between vocal and instrumental tracks. Some standouts are Bobby Darin’s jaunty “Beyond The Sea” and Ray Charle’s uber-smooth “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Cryin'”. The instrumental’s are good too with Nat Adderley’s “Call Me” and the groovy “Papa-Ooh-MauMau” by Harold Betters some of the best. Some of the tracks veer to close to just being kitsch like April Steven’s cheesy “Teach Me Tiger ’65” and the marimba-led “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)” by Esquivel. There’s some obscure cover versions thrown in to, with Carmen McRae’s soulful version of “The Sound Of Silence”, Sergio Mendes’ upbeat cover of “Monday Monday”. The best is also one of the real standouts of the album, Ananda Shakar’s trippy, sitar-led cover of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”. My other favourite is “A Man and a Woman” by Herbie Mann & Tamiko Jones, which you’ll probably all recognise, even if the name doesn’t ring any bells.

This album will probably get labelled as a guilty pleasure, but I’d be interested to see what happens when this gets put on at a party. Probably a swift beating, but hey; if you’re into holiding swining, cocktail parties you could do much worse.

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