Martin Denny

Afro-Desia: The Exotic Sounds of Martin Denny

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Afro-Desia: The Exotic Sounds of Martin Denny Review

by Richie Unterberger

Nominally, this represents Martin Denny's attempt to evoke the ambience of the African continent, after having done the same for the South Pacific via a series of early albums. Denny does use marimba, vibes, bongos, congas, and timbales -- not to mention sound effects of a buzzing tsetse fly and the rain forest. But the result is even less genuinely African (to the "nth" degree) than, say, Paul Simon's Graceland. Not to mention that the Randy Van Horne Singers, who contribute backing vocals (as they did for the Flinstones and Jetsons cartoons), were probably about as authentically African as a Disneyland voodoo doll. Denny never pretended to offer a genuinely ethnic experience, though. This is, despite any impressions generated by the title, more exotica music, pure and simple. There isn't much Denny on CD, but almost everyone will be content to pick up the Rhino best-of (which admittedly only duplicates a few cuts from Afro-Desia) and leave it at that.

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