Today’s disc comes from the world of Exotica, a genre that took its name from Denny’s 1957 album and which is defined by Wikipedia as “the non-native, pseudo experience of insular Oceania, Southeast Asia, Hawaii, the Amazon basin, the Andes and tribal Africa. Denny described the musical style as ‘a combination of the South Pacific and the Orient...what a lot of people imagined the islands to be like...it's pure fantasy though.’ While the South Seas forms the core region, exotica reflects the ‘musical impressions’ of every place from standard travel destinations to the mythical ‘shangri-las’ dreamt of by armchair safari-ers.” Well, that clears that up then.
Chuck Holden’s The Cave not only encompasses the above, it also adds a wonderful layer of weird, a patina of peculiar if you will. When I found that it was also issued by Joe Leahy’s Unique Records, well I just had to have a copy.
I don’t know a lot about Holden: this is the only disc listed by him at Discogs, and that only appears to exist as promos – no one yet has turned up a stock copy. But it’s an absolute pip: Holden strums his zither (or I guess it could be an autoharp) while some unnamed, dusky sounding maiden shrieks over the top of his rather basic instrumentation. It’s mad and it’s ace! I have unearthed a few details though: as leader of the Charles Holden Orchestra he had a residency at Manhattan’s El Morocco nightclub in the 1950s and ‘60s. Credited as Charles Holden and Orchestra, they released one album, again on Unique, Dancing at “El Morocco”, 25 light jazz arrangements of popular classics including You’re the Cream in My Coffee, Putting on the Ritz and, tantalisingly, The Third Man Theme which I’ve not heard but one has to wonder if Mr. H dusts off his zither for. According to the album’s sleeve notes “the most unique and outstanding characteristic of Mr. Holden’s eight-piece group is its tremendous repertoire which includes the favorite songs of every well-known patron who frequents the club.”
Anyway, make of this what you will. I love it, and it led me down a path of discovery towards more cave-themed oddities, some of which you’ll hear if you tune in to next week’s World’s Worst Records Radio Show.
Here are both sides, The Cave and My Lost Melody. Enjoy!
Download Cave HERE
Download Melody HERE