Exploring New Sounds in Stereo/Strings Aflame

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Exploring New Sounds in Stereo is the first of the "typical" Esquivel albums from which the CD compilations draw heavily, and there is a lot to recommend it. "Whatchamacallit" is probably his second best-loved tune (released also as a single backed with the non-LP track, "I Feel Merely Marvelous"). The track features the ondioline, an electronic-organ-like instrument often associated with the theremin. And on Exploring New Sounds in Stereo, there is indeed theremin in Esquivel's spacy treatment of "Spellbound" (from the movie of the same name). Other highlights include the exotic "Bella Mora," the cheesy "My Number One Love," and "The 3rd Man Theme." Strings Aflame, the second album reissued on this two-fer, is one of the easier Esquivel records to find, no doubt because many people were turned off by the material. As with Four Corners of the World, Esquivel seems to be proving his chops (this time with arrangements of popular string pieces), rather than doing what he does best or what his fans want most. Nevertheless, it is a fine album, well worth having in stereo. "Turkish March," "Parade of the Wooden Soldiers," "Gypsy Lament," "Guadalajara," and "Misirlou" all receive semi-exotic, unusual treatments. About four or so tunes feature the chorus's patented "zu zu zu" wordless vocal.

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