beyond the roots of lounge

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Time-Life comes out with This Is Tom Jones, and already the complaints begin: episodes are incomplete, segments are missing. TJ is listed as an Executive Producer here, so keep your panties on, won't ya? He surely wasn't on the phone doing it himself, but somebody had to clear all the rights to all the stuff that is included, with the representatives (or estate) of every performer and from every one of the relevant unions and guilds. Here's the Tiger in all his Prime Time Variety Show glory, with a clip from the ABC show that aired from 1969-1971:

spice, both scary and old

Smells like a sound: one of the greatest crap actors of our time stars in a new spot for one of the greatest crap scents of all time. Yes, it's Evil Dead-guy Bruce Campbell, once again, for Old Spice:

subservient bartender

from There's a new nitespot not too far from here where you'll find virtual barkeep Jack Parker grooving to some swanky background music as he prepares to take your order...or obey your orders. He's not working his way through grad school--he's a shill for all the various liquor brands distributed by Diageo North America. Though we haven't yet determined whether Jack knows a word that will make him pull out a briefcase full of money or hide behind the flag, we know that he might know your name, that he can dance, fly and jump, and that vodka makes him think of snow. He also goes a bit deaf when you try to order a name-brand bevy that's not in his employer's inventory. Watch Jack polish the barware and dispense pearls of prefab "wisdom" along with the 400 cocktail recipes available at

christmas spirits

from We already know whether or not we've been naughty this year or nice--and so do you. Perhaps in lieu of a lump of coal, you're giving or getting Umbra's Drinxx playing cards--martini glass backs with a (fairly accurate) cocktail recipe on each. That takes care of Christmas; what about the opening milestone on the amateur drunkard's calendar? Use these instructions to prepare some of our favorite cocktails and you'll be crying on father time's shoulder long before Regis rings in the New Year or some young upstart has a chance to drop the ball on your private celebratory gathering.

Unless all your hepcat friends are local, you have clearly missed the deadline for a happening holiday mailing--so as long as you're still merrily procrastinating on the 'net you might as well get creative with this piece of vintage Christmas cheer. Wish all the amateurs on your list a Happy New Year using Hipster Cards, free illustrated e-cards available in a variety of retro themes. Or be creative, with the make-your-own e-card function at Remember: it may be a New Year now, but it will be a retro year to remember...and sooner than you think.

they still stink on ICE

Dean Martin as Matt Helm Since it's called the Matt Helm Lounge we can hardly let this DVD release pass without comment. Just before the 007 films became parodies of themselves, Cubby Broccoli's former production partner Irving Allen teamed with Dean Martin for a series of four delightfully terrible swinging spy spoofs that boiled Bond down to the booze, brawls and banter. In each installment, Helm reluctantly rejoins Intelligence and Counter Espionage (ICE) on cases involving stolen death rays, missing a-bombs--and plenty of b-list bombshells, as Martin co-starred with a who's who of Sixties sex kittens including Elke Sommer, Stella Stevens, Cyd Charisse and Ann-Margret. Along with gags like the round bed and the rolling bar (in a station wagon), the ladies provide the visuals that actually make this series enjoyable retro-tainment, though if (like us) you mostly remember these movies as late-night TV staples, you'll laugh out loud at some of the dialogue quoted here.

The original Matt Helm of fiction was a serious paid assassin. Like many characters real and imagined, "Matt Helm" didn't survive the Sixties or his movie career with his dignity intact. When he was revived for a 1975 TV series (starring Lounge stalwart Tony Franciosa) Helm was demoted, from superspy to private eye.

8-track flashback

With its low fidelity, non-standard formatting that broke albums up into (arbitrary, not artistic) 12-minute chunks, and fragile playback mechanism, it is amazing that the commercial 8-track format survived for as long as it did, and that its fans still support a small but thriving secondary market. New(ish)ly released on DVD, the film So Wrong They're Right preserves 8-track fandom for posterity--much, much longer than the tapes themselves were designed to last with normal use.

It's a three-month-old DVD of a slow-moving film about 8-track tapes and the fanatics that still love them, originally released in...1999. Retro in every way. We exercised restraint; read the complete review at And speaking of analog recordings, the fairly new is "a website about old vinyl LPs" from a perspective we can appreciate. Queasy listening, indeed.

set the layback machine for 19-something

Do you recognize the names Ivor Slaney or Jack Trombey? Have you browsed for "mood music" using keywords like "triumphant" or "cheesy," or are you in the market for something "in the style of Ironside"? You are apparently a devotee of the DeWolfe music library. Britain's DeWolfe has been a source of background or production music to the industry since 1909, when the scope of that business consisted of supplying piano scores to movie exhibitors. Listen online to selections from their 20th Century Archive Library, several volumes of classic cues from the 1900s to the 1950s. You may not know these tunes by title or composer, but you'll still be able to name some of them in just a few notes (check out "Charlie's Chase")--and the rest will sound eerily familiar.

cruelty-free is in the eye of the beholder

the Nauga is ugly They shed their brilliantly unnatural skins so that your dad's boat and RV could come fully equipped with durable and easy-to-clean captain's chairs--but did you know that the Nauga is anything but an endangered species? No need to get into an ugly online bidding war over something so endearingly...well, ugly: the saw-toothed poster creature for post-war miracle "fabric" is still available new for about thirty bucks from Uniroyal of Indiana. Though you can't choose the color scheme when you order a new Nauga™, it's bound to look and smell every bit as garish as the interior of a factory-fresh 1970 Gran Torino. We really think Uniroyal is missing the boat on their Naugahyde® computer bags, though. If you want to carry today's laptop technology in a genuine name-brand vinyl case, are you really after (relatively) tasteful, business-appropriate colors like burgundy or blue? C'mon, it's Naugahyde®, and should be available in all its retro pimpadelic glory--bring on the banana-seat sparkling silver, screaming magenta liquid "leather," or maybe forest green with little gold flecks and some awful embossed texture on top of the pattern. We can only hope that our future Nauga™ might sport some combination of those colors; he'll have a nice family resemblance to us on the morning after the night before.

the nuclear option

Fallout Shelter sign A completist survey of epic proportions--and with a price tag to match, ATOMIC PLATTERS: COLD WAR MUSIC FROM THE GOLDEN AGE OF HOMELAND SECURITY is a five CD/one DVD box (on German indie Bear Family, folk and pop's answer to jazz reissuer Mosaic). The set was compiled by the editors of the CONELRAD web shrine to Cold War Paranoia (also linked elsewhere in these pages). Even a cursory glance at the track list is sure to touch off a few blasts-from-the-past--of civil defense drills or EBS tests gone by--while the bonus DVD offers such propaganda classics as Duck and Cover and What is Communism. There is a lot of material here; don't get so preoccupied that you forget to restart the human race from that underground bunker at an undisclosed location. Media archivists: we know you must be planning and collecting now for the follow-up box covering the homeland security revival, release date TBA.

tonight, let it be Lowbrow

The latest issues of Dumb Angel Gazette and Crap Hound are looking a bit dog-eared, and now your coffee cocktail table [Eames Elliptical or Heywood-Wakefield, please--Ed.] is calling out to you: I wish to display a new swanky read. Listen and obey--and don't spill anything: as we reported months ago, neo-Space Age illustrator SHAG is the subject of a new book, and it is in stores now. After you buy the book, read a cool archival interview with Josh Agle at the UK's groovy site. Then, check out the site of SHAG stalker enthusiast Baron Vodkalov at The Covetous Neighbor to see what and where SHAG is showing next, calculate whether you will ever be able to afford an original work, etc.

we know a little something about inactivism

Their instrumentation includes theremin, ukulele and reeds, and they update the news on their website at least once a year. We can take comfort in the idea that Denver high-concept Lounge-thrash band the Inactivists can't be accused of taking themselves too seriously. [Literally, maybe.--Ed.] Bonus points: they have a song called "Esperanto Samba" and an album called Disappointing Followup. If you're in the Mile High City, you can probably catch this quintet of musical wise-asses giving a smokin' live performance...or is that some new local ordinance we read about?

on the Doktor Goulfinger tip

Doktor Goulfinger We take it for granted now that movies are a big part of what we watch on television. During the heyday of Lounge, full-length motion pictures were new to TV. The broadcast of Hollywood films only began in earnest in the mid-to-late 50s, when the studios entered into an unholy alliance with the TV industry. They may own each other now, but the relationship in those days was anything but cozy.

The Universal SHOCK! syndication package was one of the first released to TV. With the local broadcast of horror films came the local horror host. Local stations employed assorted spooky characters to host the monster movies in weekend late-night "fringe" timeslots that were a tough sell to advertisers--airtime that station sales departments already considered to be a "graveyard" of unsold commercial spots.

Imagine, then, your local station's surprise when horror flicks proved immensely popular. Perhaps it was Cold War Paranoia, perhaps the local hosts exercised a mysterious power over their viewing minions. (Perhaps the next sound you hear will be...a theremin...)

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the local horror host tradition lives on in the person of Doktor Goulfinger (no "H,"--"they're for the weak," he says). The Doktor keeps the scary flag flying on Berkeley cable access, in personal appearances and at his web site, The Hip Crypt of Doktor Goulfinger. Bay Area host Asmodeus (name borrowed from the king of demons, patron of Matrimonial Unhappiness) was a big influence on the Dok:

...having that type of character transposed to the dark hours was startling and intriguing, to say the least. Asmodeus was an imperious, sarcastic character. His garb was macabre mod, he smoked a cigarette and had a fairly elaborate castle set.

And speaking of unholy alliances, you can read our complete interview with the Dok over at our new partner, you're entitled to our opinion, and those of their many other fine contributors.

don't call these angels dumb

Dumb Angel Gazette logo On the Left Coast, the angels were sometimes grievous, they are often fallen--but whatever you do, don't call 'em d-u-m-b. Back for the first time in 15 years (and complete with a marvelously modern website, might we add) is the fabulous Dumb Angel Gazette. (The name comes from the original title of what became Brian Wilson's SMILE album.) This is only the fourth installment ever of an ambitious salute by co-editors Domenic Priore and Brian Chidester to all things surf, SoCal and sublime. After all this time, the 'zine's aesthetic has gone way beyond cut-and-paste--as the editors say themselves:

[It's] a return to unique perspectives on surf instrumental music, Wall-of-Sound productions, Hawaiiana, post-war fashion/graphic design and Modernist Los Angeles architecture. Drawing inspiration from a beatnik surf aesthetic, the magazine has taken on a new look drawn from the vision of surfing’s '50s and '60s iconographers.

The new issue features Tikiologist Otto von Stroheim on Arthur Lyman and Hollywood journo Harvey Kubernik on Phil Spector--along with photos by Dennis Hopper and a surf genealogy by Rock Family Trees auteur Pete Frame. If that's not enough to convince you of this publication's swank pedigree, check out the links page. Better yet, buy a copy and settle in to enjoy this latest edition of the biggest selling fanzine of all time. Even as fall turns to winter, readers north of the 101 will still be having fun with All Summer Long.