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'80s Tiki
BC-Da-Da
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 14, 2002
Posts: 162
Posted: 2008-01-28 3:34 pm   Permalink

I wanted to open up a topic that is not often talked about, but one that I've been getting more into lately. Is there anyone here that is into '80s tiki? It is really sparse, but some exotica/jungle jazz does exist, as well as surf-mood instrumental music, and the occassional underground comic or art piece relating to tiki culture.

From all that I've been told, Downtown L.A. had these events during the Reagan years... not really clubs... but kind of what in Harlem they used to call "rent parties." Only in L.A. they were (and are) called "loft parties"... and they were not regulated by anything. I'm not the expert on that scene during the '80s, but apparently what would happen was people would find some loft, rent it for the night, and have some "secret" party that everyone hip would find out about, and shit would happen there. This is well before "raves" or any of that. The guys from Amok Books used to do a club down there off and on called Mecca (see Dumb Angel Gazette #3, there's an L.A. Times writeup about Mecca that Domenic Priore reprinted)... that was really the birth of the exotica scene in L.A. Stuart Sweezy of Amok Books preceded all of the great Otto/Sven stuff by a long time. Remember that "Incredibly Strange Music" ended with the Amok guys.

I believe Throbbing Gristle was clearly before anyone, in terms of exotica culture in a post-punk setting. Their album "20 Jazz Funk Greats" had a lot of other elements of punk, ambient music and whatnot, but it was also romanticized and had some wild jungle percussion. Throbbing Gristle also had that "Greatest Hits" album (1980), which the cover was a knock-off of Martin Denny's "Afro-Desia" LP sleeve. Then you had that show "I.R.S. The Cutting Edge" (on MTV), which covered L.A. during the early '80s, and went to KXLU where they interviewed a DJ there who had an exotica radio show.

Lastly, Jeffrey Vallance, whose art, writing and one 7" (by his surf instrumental group the Tikis), would have to be seen as someone who was slightly ahead of the curve in all of this.

Looking forward to everyone's thoughts!

Brian


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11266
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-01-28 6:13 pm   Permalink

Brian, I used to go to Mecca. It was all kinds of exotic themes, Bali, Sufi, Maya, etc. They would show Bollywood musicals for kicks and giggles before anyone else did. Stuart Sweezey and Brian King were just into all things weird and esoteric in general, just like their bookstore. In terms of Tiki (nobody called it that then), their main focus was the music, EXOTICA, especially Martin Denny and Les Baxter....not so much decor, architecture, restaurants, or cocktails. Because of that, you can't really call it "80s Tiki". What I would understand under that term is Chinese Restaurants with cheap Orchids of Hawaii decor, bad drinks, and Tikis painted in garish colors, that's 80s Tiki.

Jeffrey Vallance was perhaps the only one who had a Tiki backyard then, directly taken over from his parents. My friend Charles Schneider kept telling me to go and see it, but then Jeffrey moved, and that was that. But it was mostly the music that was the catalyst for the hipsters of the 80s.
There were collectors like Dale Sizer, but they were not connected.

Here is a little bit about Throbbing Gristle that popped up on TC a short while ago:

http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=26783&forum=11

And here is what I wrote about it in TIKI MODERN, without having the room to get further into it, just touching on it:

"Although Tiki Style was completely banished from public consciousness by the 1980s, its obscure imagery survived under the radar in the minds of a few underground avantgardists. Artists Jeffrey Vallance, Boyd Rice and bands like Monitor and Throbbing Gristle referenced the Exotica music of Martin Denny and their parents’ Tiki backyards in their works. Beginning in the 90s, scattered members of the “lounge revival”...."

This "Pre-Tiki Revival/Pre-Lounge revival EXOTICA REVIVAL" is a worthy subject to get into, especially since most of the participants are still around.

Say, are you doing anything about Buddy Collette in your new book? Do you know his fantastic "POLYNESIA" album? I am so into that beatnik/jazz/exotica/ G.I. poetry that they do on it, I want to know more, I wanna ask him about it....


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BC-Da-Da
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 14, 2002
Posts: 162
Posted: 2008-01-29 1:26 pm   Permalink

Hi Sven,

[1] It was great to hear your take on the '80s tiki or exotica happenings. I, of course, feel like you, Otto, Shag and Combustible Edison gave this culture a really defined vernacular for artists and thinkers to pick up on. It's been good to have people who are into the bohemian aspect, as much as the pure fun and the artistry. It makes for a rounded view of tiki. I am planning on interviewing Stuart Sweezy for my beatnik book, as I'm doing a chapter on '80s and '90s bohemia, dealing with many facets from social protest to coffeehouse to experimental art, dandy-ism and all that stuff. Which brings me to your second question...

[2] I do deal with Buddy Collette in my "Beat Generation in Los Angeles" book... in two chapters, actually. And I love that "Polynesia" album. I probably won't deal with that album directly in the book, only because the book is not as much about recording studio material as it is about clubs, coffeehouses, art galleries, journalism and happenings in the '50s. But I guarantee the album will warrant mention right next to other word jazz favorites of the time. Amongst the better word jazz material from that time are: the Jack Kerouac/Steve Allen LP, the "San Francisco Poetry Scene" album, Ken Nordine's "Word Jazz" and "Son of Word Jazz," as well as Al Jazzbo Collins' "East Coast Jazz Scene." Also, any of the Slim Gaillard, Harry the Hipster Gibson and Lord Buckly albums from the '50s really swing, though they three tend to be more in the comedy vein... hip speak a little more pronounced.

I also like Kenneth Patchen's word jazz records, and of course, "How to Speak Hip" by Del Close and John Brent. Oscar Brown Jr.'s "Tales of Manhattan" is also that middle ground between camp and hip. But as far as L.A. word jazz from the '50s goes, you are right about "Polynesia"... I would say that that album, plus "Eden's Island" by Eden Ahbez were the top two coming out of this area. I only wish more of those Venice poets were recorded back in the day.

I've already been thinking that an L.A. beatnik album cover and event poster book needs to come on the heels of this current one, but these books take so long to germinate. You know how that is. It took me three years to finish "Dumb Angel #4," then about two and half more to finish "Pop Surf Culture," which I just saw that Santa Monica Press has slated for June, 2008. So hopefully this beatnik one won't take quite as long. But I really appreciate your input on the '80s exotica thing. It's a small part of an overall chapter that includes a lot of hip culture, but I felt like it was an important subject.

In "Pop Surf Culture," I tried to deal with '80s bohemian artwork in surfing, and it boiled down to about three sentences talking about a few early Coop surf drawings, some event flyers that harkened back to the surf-beatnik drawings of the '50s... and maybe a few guys that were successfully melding socio-political statements with a Mad magazine aesthetic. But it was tough, because it seemed like anything hand-drawn or campy was looked down upon for most of the '70s and at least the first half of the '80s. I've just been getting into Throbbing Gristle, Lydia Lunch and Cabaret Voltaire... what a breath of fresh air.


 
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BC-Da-Da
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 14, 2002
Posts: 162
Posted: 2008-01-29 5:35 pm   Permalink

Oh, also, I think the guy who does the spoken word on "Polynesia" sounds like Don Blanding on the latter's album. But, of course, it's jazz on the Collette and it's like sweeping soundtrack music on the Blanding. You've heard the Blanding album, right, Sven?

It's genius!


 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11266
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-01-29 6:15 pm   Permalink







 
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christiki295
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Apr 09, 2003
Posts: 3818
From: LA-2547 mls east Hawaii &5500 Easter Is
Posted: 2008-01-31 7:31 pm   Permalink

I met Nina Hagen at a loft party in downtown LA which had a runway fashion theme.
She was holier-than-though and hot.


 
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hanford_lemoore
Proprietor

Joined: Mar 23, 2002
Posts: 1870
From: Tiki Central
Posted: 2008-02-01 03:46 am   Permalink

Fantastic topic so far ... (wish I could contribute to it) ...


 
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BC-Da-Da
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 14, 2002
Posts: 162
Posted: 2008-02-02 5:34 pm   Permalink

Shoulda known... shoulda known!

 
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BC-Da-Da
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 14, 2002
Posts: 162
Posted: 2008-02-02 5:38 pm   Permalink

Also, while we're on the topic of the "Polynesia" album... the tracks that feature the female vocalist and no spoken word... those remind of the tracks from "Eden's Island" that have the female chorus. It's interesting that both "Eden's Island" and "Polynesia" come out of Los Angeles, as neither are entirely beatnik nor entirely exotica either. It's this weird thing that is totally Los Angeles, which poetry snobs would no doubt turn their noses up to.

 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11266
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-02-03 12:15 am   Permalink

Well, we are getting a little away here from the "80s Tiki" subject, but if nobody else here has anything to contribute to that, let's talk some more about "Polynesia":

Quote:

On 2008-02-02 17:38, BC-Da-Da wrote:
Also, while we're on the topic of the "Polynesia" album... the tracks that feature the female vocalist and no spoken word... those remind of the tracks from "Eden's Island" that have the female chorus. It's interesting that both "Eden's Island" and "Polynesia" come out of Los Angeles, as neither are entirely beatnik nor entirely exotica either.



I think it has to do with L.A. having been THE magnet for all kinds of talent in the mid-century. People crossed paths, musicians and actors, and much was tried out that has long since been forgotten. Just look at the bio of the female voice on "Polynesia", Marni Nixon:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0633262/bio

WHERE does Exotica come into play there? Not really -it probably was another job for her as a voice professional....or maybe as a performer she did it because she was the artsy type and thought it was "deep" in sort of a beatnik sense....

And if this IS the Robert Sorrells whose voice is on the album (though spelled Sorrels with one "L" on the cover), it makes perfect sense that he had an acting career in Westerns and Twilight Zone serials and then, at the end of his life, went on a killing spree....an all American Colonel Kurtz character:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0815171/

I wanna know who WROTE that stuff...we probably still can ask Marni Nixon, and Buddy Collette.

[ This Message was edited by: bigbrotiki 2008-02-03 00:17 ]


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BC-Da-Da
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 14, 2002
Posts: 162
Posted: 2008-02-03 12:02 pm   Permalink

Well, where does exotica come into play with anyone besides Arthur Lyman and Martin Denny, who seemed to have taken the genre as their serious artistry? Near everything else seems like exploitation, though often totally inspired at that.

One of the things that I like about the Pacific Jazz label in the 1950s (later World Pacific Records) is all of the world music that pops up under the guise of American jazz, or better yet, West Coast jazz. The Getz/Gilberto bossa nova hit "Girl from Ipanema" might have been the shot heard 'round the world, as far as Brazilian music was concerned, and that was 1964. But back in 1953, Bud Shank and Laurindo Almeida cut a great bossa nova/jazz album titled "Brazilliance."

One of my favorites from that time is "Afrodesia" by Bob Romeo, which is not on the Pacific Jazz label, but it features Laurindo Almeida on guitar, and Eden Ahbez wrote three of the songs. I did a lot of research on Bob Romeo, both with the former coffeehouse owners and with the local Musicians Union, and found that Romeo did a lot of soundtracking for those Warner Borthers crime shows, like "77 Sunset Strip," "Hawaiian Eye" and "Surfside 66." Mostly just the scenes that were filmed in coffeehouses. Romeo also soundtracked early animated films by Pierre Herbert, and he used to play flute jazz at the Venice West Cafe and the Insomniac in Hermosa Beach. His lone album is probably the coolest example of beatnik jazz colliding with world music, to create a proto-exotica package. He also had that pothumous single with James Dean on conga drum.

I say all of that to say that guys like James Dean and Eden Ahbez were a part of the ferment of '50s bohemia, and jazz, world music, TV, film, literature and folk music all seemed to collide in the coffeehouses and jazz clubs of the period. Maybe in San Francisco, there was an ellitist attitude that the beats had, and tried to seperate themselves from anything commercial. I think in L.A. there were those who were far below the radar, and far outside the system too... but the crux of the scene ran the gamut from camp to hip, rich to poor. I still feel that way about L.A. There is so much crap here, and it's so sprawling. You have this wide variety of choices that might not have the consistent air that other cities encourage. But these pockets of bohemia that happen in L.A. come out of nowhere and really stand out in my mind as being dream-like. That notion first became aparent to me when I read about the Garden of Allah on Sunset and Crescent Heights.

Sorry to veer so far from '80s tiki. I myself am just trying to catch up on all the recommendations made from this and the other Throbbing Gristle thread.

[ This Message was edited by: BC-Da-Da 2008-02-03 12:05 ]


 
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BC-Da-Da
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 14, 2002
Posts: 162
Posted: 2008-02-03 2:58 pm   Permalink

By the way, Sven... if Buddy Collette is still alive, you can just call the Local 47 Musicians Union and let them know you want to interview him. They are super-easy to work with there. Really nice people. I'm sure if they didn't just give you his number, they would relay a message to him.

 
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bigbrotiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 11266
From: Tiki Island, above the Silverlake
Posted: 2008-02-07 3:12 pm   Permalink

Hmmm...so much on my mind, so little time....Say, now I'd really like to hear some Bob Romeo...

Brian, I'm sure you have THIS guy on your radar, considering his vita...

http://www.spaceagepop.com/katz.htm

Bucket of Blood, Word Jazz, Far Out Folk....those are nice credits in Beatnik history.

C.U. Saturday, Sven


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BC-Da-Da
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 14, 2002
Posts: 162
Posted: 2008-02-08 10:57 am   Permalink

I wouldn't say on my radar. I have the "Far Out Folk" album, but I've not put together the puzzle quite like those guys at Space Age Pop have. The funny thing is, I have the Harpo album, I have both of those Corman films and the "Word Jazz" albums by Ken Nordine. But like a lot of jazz, it takes a while before one name that crosses a bunch of combos and projects gets into your blood. Thanks for bringing Mr. Katz to my attention. I'd like to hear that Portier/Katz album, plus anything by Dolphy/Hamilton. The only thing I have by that version of the Chico Hamilton group is the 1958 World Pacific tribute that they did to Duke Ellington. Eric Dolphy's most famous recordings came from his years in New York and Europe, but he WAS an Angeleno, as were Odetta, John Cage and LaMonte Young.

 
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BC-Da-Da
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 14, 2002
Posts: 162
Posted: 2008-02-08 11:18 am   Permalink

Re: Bob Romeo... I know you would love his music, Sven. Anytime you wanna hear it, let me know.

Roscoe Weathers is the other exotic '50s flute player that I'm crazy about. He played the Gas House in venice regularly, and his bongo player was a guy named Tamboo. Legendary skins-man.


 
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