Album Review "Space Escapade"

Hello and welcome to my silo launch pad which has blue velvet drapes, Alpaca lampshades, bulkhead to bulkhead TV, a stereophonic audio system with two speakers and a experimental phono needle my old buds at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory came up with!
Today's review is Les Brown's "Space Escapades", A very hep (as the kids say) album with a wonderful cover that reminds me of those pneumatic pressure suits we wore in the old days!

The album starts off with a bang! "Shooting Star" is fast and fun with a futuristic sound that could remind one of being in a busy spaceport or outlet mall. This cut was in rotation on the old live365 stream. I think I'll use it for the opener of ATOMIC CITY #12. This 1958 blend of exotica and pop is Baxter in a different light but still at his best.
Moving on, "Moonscape" is a soft, slow, dreamy kind of thing that I suggested to Neal (Armstrong) would be fitting for his lunar descent. You can imagine drifting silently over the moon's surface in low lunar orbit knowing that soon after landing you would be at that wild cocktail party pictured on the album's cover!

Next, "Mr. Robot," also featured on the old ATOMIC CITY, is a cool mixture of lush strings and percussive vibes that speak of the technology of the future making life easier and more enjoyable. I could see the robot driving a car with no wheels down the Ventura highway.

"City" is another warm, slow piece, lush with strings again and piano with heavy reverb to the point of echo. Outworldly and serene, this is very relaxing as the Mai Tais kick in.

Then it's on to "A Distant Star" which showcases Baxter's arranging skills. Constant tempo changes, explosions of strings and piano bring structure out of the chaos of the universe (did I really say that?) This cut is also featured on ATOMIC CITY.

In ""The Commuter" I again see those futuristic cars without wheels even though they still have 50's era horns illustrated by the wonderful brass section and a brilliant arrangement. This is a fast number that could have been used in a documentary about busy urban life. You get the feeling that the pedestrians are standing still while the sidewalks move.

"Winds Of Sirius" starts out almost like a classical symphony with piano concert piece and then morphs into a fast Latin number! There is a fabulous section about a minute in with vibes and strings paying counterpoint which is exactly how it should be done (as anyone who has ever been to Sirius would know.) It then winds down back to the classical piano accompanied by strings and ends which is fine as my beautiful wife Eydie Gourmet and I had to be helped off the dance floor. This is also in the old playlist.

On "The Other Side Of The Moon" there is no light but this effort by Baxter is anything but dark. Serene with strings yet busy with bells and vibes this musically technical work shows a contrast that might be a reflection on the peacefulness of space and the possible unknowns that are happening down on the moon's surface. Or, it could be something he composed in music school (I know I get carried away sometimes but impressions of music are always subjective, right?) Again, this was also on the old show.

"A Look Back At Earth" changes mood many times both in tempo and feeling. One moment it's a lounge piece, the next a Broadway style show tune. It works somehow. Maybe I should put this up on podcast. I passed on it when I ripped the album but in all fairness to Les I was comparatively overloaded with his stuff at that time and having to rotate it to conform with the no more than two songs per three hours by the same artist rule. When you have six thousand+ tunes it no longer matters. After you hear it let me know.

"Earth Light is short mellow segue to the next track. Nice spaceship sound effects at the beginning and end though.

I'm really enjoying listening again to "The Lady Is Blue." This is bluesy jazz piece that starts out with special effects then jumps right into a big band number with strings instead of brass and woodwinds. Ok at 1:17 there is a muted trumpet solo so there is one horn in the arrangement. Very nice piano bar treatment at the end.

The closer, "Saturday Night On Saturn" in the old rotation as well, is a short busy little work that conveys a sense of nervousness (like you were in that bar scene in Star Wars kind of nervous maybe.) I would have to classify this "Exotica" simply because I can't label it as anything else. There's no genre called strange and cool is there? And then, far too quickly it ends and you realize you must re-enter the atmosphere and return to terra firma, the good earth.

Well, I urge you to experience the pleasure of forming your own impression of this extraordinary musical gem. Thanks to YouTube you can play the entire album here or by the playlist here.

I raise my glass to Les Baxter...

Commander Clement "Skip" Bombwell
USN Space Command (ret)

c/o Happy Valley Advanced Care Facility

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