Genius work from Les Baxter
– two of his best albums for Capitol, back to back on one CD! Ritual Of The Savage is one of those must-have albums from the 50s – a super-huge record upon its initial release, and an album that pushed the genre of exotica far further than most others at the time! Before this record, most attempts at exotica were simple instrumental pop, colored with slight worldly instrumentation – or too-dreamy recordings, putting over a sleepy version of life on the islands. Enter Les Baxter
, who had an amazing ear for sounds, rhythms, and arrangements – one that was the first to record this sort of music in a way that was sonically evocative, and could stand on its own without other referents. Instrumentation is often conventional, but used oddly here – and Baxter
's original compositions are all pretty darn great – playful without being goofy, and nicely mixing Latin and Pacific rhythms at the bottom. Titles include "Busy Port", "The Ritual", "Coronation", "Jungle Jalopy", and Les
' original version of "Quiet Village". Heck, even the cover is gorgeous – with a brilliant blue illustration of some guy putting the moves on a woman amidst spooky tribal relics! The Passions is a really obscure box set recording – done as Les Baxter
's classic exploitation of "a woman's passions", using vocalist Bas Sheva in the role of the tormented female! Shiva's got a bold, evocative style that's not unlike Yma Sumac – and she sings here wordlessly, as an added instrument on top of Baxter
's orchestrations – playing the role of the inner psyche of woman, on titles that include "Lust", "Terror", "Joy", "Hate", "Ecstasy", and "Despair"! The whole thing's a mini docu-drama in sound – beautifully recorded in a flurry of red, blue, and other chromatic hues – not as exotic as Baxter
's other work from the 50s, but equally great as a modern sonic psychoanalytic text!