Sunday, March 26, 2006

The J.H. Squire Celeste Octet, from 1928--"Absent" and "La Cinquantaine"

I'd call this sort of music the roots of lounge, but that phrase has been trademarked, thank you. Those three words, in that precise combination, are owned by Beyond the Roots of Lounge ("Home for Hepcats"), which means that nobody else in the entire world can use them.

In other news, I have some golf courses for sale on the planet Jupiter. Golf on Jupiter--It's a GasĀ®.

Anyway, here we have a dreamy, elevator-y ("elevator-y"??) treatment of the 1899 hit Absent, and years before Kostelanetz and Gould were doing the same thing to the songs of Gershwin, Porter, and Kern:

Absent (John W. Metcalf), J.H. Squire Celeste Octet (1928). From Columbia 78.

The flip side is La Cinquantaine (The Golden Wedding) by French composer Jean Gabriel-Marie in 1887. Again, classic mood-music fare, though not, obviously, written for that genre:

La Cinquantaine (Gabriel-Marie), J.H. Squire Celeste Octet (1928).

While we're on the subject of early, early lounge music, here's a 1907 recording by Chris Chapman that, if given a Sydney Torch or David Carroll treatment, could pass for a hi-fi-era novelty instrumental. The record is pretty hammered, but I got a listenable file from it:

Dance California (George W. Gregory, 1894), Chris Chapman, Bells with orchestra, 1907. From Victor 78.

Sounds a little like the 1916 hit Nola, no? (Nola No? Wasn't that a musical comedy by Vincent Youmans?)

Anyway, the roots of lounge are right here at... Vintage Lounge.



Blogger ERRguitar said...

Lee - How did you manage to get Golf on Jupiter - It's a Gas? The guy who owns Golf on Ganymede is very litigious so you can expect to hear from his lawyers sometime soon.

I always enjoy reading your posts even if I don't get to listen to the tunes as often as I'd like to.

Regarding the Labeling of Lounge I was spent time in the periphery of the Incredibly Strange Music project (early '90's) published by RE/Search and witnessed some of the jockeying for the definitive label of this poorly defined genre (chief rival being Space Age Bachelor Pad Music - favored by some of your pals at WFMU).

My own working name for what I was most interested in (postwar popular culture) was 'deep fifties' although it clearly extended (as did the fifties) into the early/mid 1960's. The many connections between mass market primitivism and nuclear families (some literally underground) is such a rich subject!

I guess I left out "Cocktail Nation' but that was a bit obvious as a marketing category.

Anyway - keep up the great work!

12:52 PM  
Blogger Lee Hartsfeld said...


Thanks! Personally, I feel that a definition has to be as wide as the thing being defined--i.e., it has to take into account the earliest examples as well as the gamut of styles. I think there's too much of a tendency to define "lounge" based on what are considered the coolest examples--very much like the way big band is defined in terms of Count Basie and Benny Goodman, when in fact the "squarer" examples were probably more representative of the era. Also, there's the tradition of defining lounge in terms of, well, lounges. But people first listened to such music on the radio and 78s in their living rooms in the 1920s and 1930s. So....

Comprehensive historical coverage is the key. To me, anyway.


4:24 PM  
Blogger Bongydread said...

The links dont work :(

4:33 AM  

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