Space Age Pop is an eclectic subgenre of early to mid 1960’s pop music. It experimented with stereo separations, it created a more percussive instrumental format, and invariably it was used as background music or instrumental filler for everything from commercials to short films.
I’ve got a few examples of this cool Space Age Pop today on K-Chuck Radio, so let’s take a listen, shall we?
Georgia Camp Meeting
The Swe-Danes were a trio of vocalese experts, and they turned their voices into equivalent musical instruments. The group had some popularity throughout Europe, and some of their songs were used as background music for various movie soundtracks.
Mah Nà Mah Nà
This was originally recorded as the soundtrack for a Scandinavian softcore film, which was released in America as “Sweden – Heaven and Hell.” But most people know it today as one of the original early sketches from the Muppets.
Solfeggio (Song of the Nairobi Trio)
This little piece of pop became the soundtrack for a funny Ernie Kovacs sketch in which the Nairobi Trio, three actors in monkey masks, try to perform the song – and invariably mess it up, to hilarious consequences. I can still see the one monkey-man using mallets to drum on the second monkey-man’s head, while a third monkey-man uses a conductor’s baton as a simian metronome. Ha.
No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach Is In)
If I told you that this funky, 1960’s-era piece of garage rock was actually the soundtrack for an antacid commercial, would you believe me? Well, it was. “The T-Bones” were another name for the legendary Wrecking Crew, the first-call studio musicians of Los Angeles whose instruments are the backbone of three out of every four 1960’s-era hits.
Left Bank Two
If you were a fan of the children’s TV show Vision On (which I was), this was one of the soundtrack songs that was used in one of the show’s weekly sketches. Interestingly, Vision On focused their energy on the show being designed for the hearing and non-hearing audience, so a song like this – with no words – worked well for those who could watch AND hear the show.
Nothing like taking Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” and turning it into an early dance hit. It’s kind of hard to shoehorn this track into a dance beat, but Apollo 100 frontman Tom Parker does his best. Turns it into a 6/8 measure, and then adds a 4/4 hard rock guitar bridge. This MAY have been influenced by a similar version of “Ode to Joy” that appeared on the soundtrack to the film Deep Throat. No, I’m not linking to that one in this blog post, you freaks.
This was one of the first synthesizer-generated singles to ever break through to the mainstream. A few years later, a remake of this, by the studio group Hot Butter, actually cracked the Top 10. I actually remember this track being used by Boston television station WKBG (56) as part of their commercial bumpers. But then again, I also remember their big TV host was Boston radio personality Dale Dorman, so there’s that.
All of Me
One final track, and this may require you to put on your headphones. Juan Garcia Esquivel used the power of early stereo recordings to have his sounds bounce from one eardrum to the next. The Esquivel recordings were space age pop at their best. That, and the ethereal chorus on every track …
So there you go … you’ve heard them before, and now you can hear them again, on K-Chuck Radio!