:: My Fisherman, My Laddie O ::
:: The Green Mountain Boys ::
:: Sinner Man ::
Les Baxter was known as the father of Exotica. He was an innovative arranger who combined various elements of world music with conventional instrumental pop. His records from the 50s set the mood for countless bachelor pad parties, and he helped launch the careers of Yma Sumac, Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman.
So what's up with this? The more sceptical among us might assume Baxter was merely cashing in on the folk revival of the early 60s, and they might be right. According to the liner notes, this is the album Les Baxter always wanted to make, and in a way that makes sense. Instead of presenting folk music from such far-flung cultures as Zimbabwe (African Jazz), or Polynesia (Quiet Village), we're treated this time to... Iowa or somesuch place. How exotic is that?
Actually I have to wonder just how much involvement Les Baxter had in the making of this record. If he did have a hand in the instrumental and vocal arrangements, you have to hand it to him for not adding strings and horns and kettle drums to the mix. What you get is a cross between The New Main Street Singers, and The Folksmen (for you Christopher Guest fans) and I mean that in a good way.
Taking a page from the Albert Grossman book of "How To Assemble A Hit Folk Group", Baxter somehow got these nine musicians together to record as Les Baxter's Balladeers. The group was comprised of many West Coast folk luminaries including:
Terrea Lea (featured on "My Fisherman"), co-owner of a West Hollywood coffee house called The Garret where she performed throughout the 60s.
Phil Campos (featured on "Sinner Man"), who went on to form the sunshine pop group The Forum.
Ernie Sheldon (featured on his own composition, "Green Mountain Boys") was a member of the Limelighters and was a songwriter of note.
Paul Potash went on to membership in the New Christy Minstrels.
Paul Hansen, who remembered playing with the Balladeers in "up-scale clubs in Las Vegas", and hated it so much, he never wanted to see Vegas again.
Last but most certainly not least, Jerry Yester was a member of the Modern Folk Quartet, produced The Association, Tim Buckley and Tom Waits, was a later day member of The Lovin' Spoonful and was married to wild woman/folkie babe Judy Henske with whom he recorded one of the strangest psych/folk albums of all time, "Farewell Aldebaran". Not bad.