Part of the marketing of rock & roll as youth music back in the day meant trying to figure out how to sell kids and what were the sounds that they would dig. The record labels tapped everyone for ideas. One of those people was Les Baxter he had already established himself as one of the princes of Exotica and a duke of easy listening. He had backed Nat King Cole & Frank Sinatra. He helped create Yma Sumac's classic the Voice of Xtabay. His classic exotica records, Ritual of the Savage and Tamboo!, were released. He was a success. Still, Capitol tapped him for a teen record and Les Baxter's Teen Drums was made.
|One of the great record sleeves.|
Les Baxter recorded these swinging tracks with various Pacific Coast drum stars, jazz, Afro-Cuban, Brazilian and Porto-Rican skin-thumpers. No music was written. They all simply sat down in a studio on Hollywood's Vine Street and started pounding. Les came up with a batch of mad percussion effects, even farther out than those he achieved in "Skins". He's one of California's hottest bongo-beaters and he dashes about the streets in a turquoise Thunderbird with a souped-up engine.
A follow-up to the popular Skins! of 1957, Les Baxter's Teen Drums marks a return to pure beat territory. "Ting Ting Ting" and "Brazil Nuts" start the album off with furious bongo bashing busy rhythms, but then things slow to a more sedate pace as Teen Drums delivers its skeletal arrangements and tightly restrained beats. “I dig” swings along nicely but my pick is “Calypso.” Les Baxter's Teen Drums is exotica of sorts, perfect for the average space-age bachelor's cocktail party or simply load the surf boards (.. and the bongos!) for the perfect listen on your next surf safari.
This animated sequence by John Moore features Baxter's I Dig as its soundtrack. Take a look and listen... its a good indication whether you'll get with the beat of Teen Drums!
Enjoy - Les Baxter's Teen Drums.