April 08, 2008
Collectors' Choice Music

Album Review

Collectors' Choice Music's exceptional restoration of Arthur Lyman's Hi-Fi Records catalog gathers the two mid-'60s titles Latitude 20 (1967) and Aphrodisia (1968) onto this single CD. In keeping with the other entries in their thorough overhaul, the fidelity is remarkably good -- especially when considering the four-plus-decade-old source materials. Lyman (vibraphone/marimba) continued his successful run of long-players, filling each with a blend of concurrent pop numbers and familiar folk songs from around the globe, not to mention a sampling of show tunes from the stage and/or screen. Of course regardless of the material's origins, Lyman would always rework it into a singular blend of tiki torch exotica and skillfully scored jazz. The opening title composition of Latitude 20 is not as exotic a locale as the track might infer. Truth be told it is the location of the Torrance, CA-based bar where Lyman and crew recorded the album. That doesn't seem to affect the warm island sensation of "Hawaii" or the outstanding main theme of the motion picture The Day the Fish Came Out (1967). Continuing with movie music, the Black Orpheus (1959) selection "Manha de Carnival" and the title song from Island in the Sun are easily among the best of the lot. Aphrodisia is nothing if not a reflection of its era. One need listen no further than the semi-clad psychedelic images on the LP jacket to get a wink and nod at what Lyman's listeners were looking for. His aural concoction of even and unobtrusive Polynesian ambience makes no attempt to disguise exactly what a name such as "Aphrodisia" would suggest. The pop hit "Sunny" is a winner as Lyman keeps the melody light and relaxed. The native "Mexico," "One Paddle -- Two Paddle" -- complete with rare vocals, no less -- "Kyoto," the Hawaiian "Kuu Ipo Ika Hee," and the humbling "All My Trials" are equally worthy of discovery. Additionally, they uniformly stand as examples of the wide-ranging artistry that Lyman brings to his craft. To much the same extent -- as the sexy "O O" reveals -- he certainly isn't afraid or inhibited when the setting is appropriate.
Lindsay Planer, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Latitude 20
  2. Hawaii
  3. The Day the Fish Came Out
  4. Manha de Carnaval
  5. Island in the Sun
  6. Maori Flea
  7. Ode to Billie Joe
  8. Our Song
  9. Wunderbar
  10. I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen
  11. Alfie
  12. The Days of My Youth
  13. Aphrodisia
  14. Billy Boy
  15. Sunny
  16. Old Plantation
  17. Mexico
  18. Mas Que Nada
  19. One Paddle-Two Paddle
  20. O O
  21. All My Trials
  22. Kyoto
  23. Kuu Ipo Ika Hee
  24. Goin' out of My Head