A friend of mine just hipped me to Xavier Cugat and his saucy, cartoonish rhumba/Exotica album, Viva Cugat! If you have never heard of Mr. Cugat, do yourself a quick and entertaining favor and check out his wikipedia article. This dude is a nut and a knucklehead from the day... he's basically the original Perez Prado, for one thing, as well as sort of the main fellow of Latin music from the 40s through to the 60s. His fourth wife was Charo, of all people, and he was known for conducting orchestra while cradling a chihuahua in his arms. A first class Character, and a former cartoonist to boot. Just like Fellini.
This album is prototypical, or at least typical, Latin-flavored Exotica, a 50's/60's trend we find Cugat getting in on-- interestingly, both as its grandfatherly progenitor and as a carpetbaggin' jumper of the bandwagon. Heavy on Rhumba, Mambo, and Conga, with big drums and bold brass, the album has that hard swingin' Latin sound but it's actually most interesting for its dreamier, string-drenched numbers-- such as the nearly perfect "Jungle Drums," "Poinciana," and a wonderful rendition of "Perfidia". The latter being a song which was a big hit for Cugat in the 40s. Viva Cugat! finds him returning to "Perfidia" 20 years later, and it's an achingly gorgeous revisitation.
If you are a fellow or lady with an Exotica addiction, you will likely feel inclined to slam some gooey Cugat into your brains. This is a great record.
Viva! CUGAT! (192)
The fine friend who got me to know this record has started a Tumblr called "MENTAL TOOTSCAPES." Their mission is to sort through the "bad" of new age culture and present what they find interesting. Doubtless such a treasure chest may be of interest to some readers here, so check it out. I will see you there, old chums.