90s Easy Listening Scene: 80s Roots? Any suggestions?

PattrickPattrick 57 Posts
edited March 2013 in Strut Central
Was typing something aong these lines over in the Rediscovery post and was wondering if anyone here could help?

I'm writing an article on the Roots of the 90s Easy Listening Scene. Basically tracing what lead to the early / mid-90s explosion of EZ listening pre- Blow-Up / Smashing / Indigo's / The Sound Gallery / Bacharach worship....

I'm looking for artists who were dipping their toes into lite-bossa, EZ flavours in the 80s when it wasn't considered so cool to be 'lounge' for want of a better term. Got some good suggestions from VG+ and good thoughts about how Easy Listening was actually a very post-Punk thing.

Presently loving stuff like:
The Style Council - Paris Match
Everything But The Girl - Each and Everyone (chooon)
Ben Watt - This Boy (from Pillows and Prayers)
Madness - Los Palmas Seven
Mari Wilson - obvious...cos she reeked retro lounge but brilliant to hear Just What I Always Wanted again.
Carmel - (obvious again..she reeked etc...)
The Pale Fountains - they aspired to Bacharachadom at least
Sunset Gun - B-side to Be Thankful For What You've Got (Can't Hide My View?) don't have it handy but
Weekend - Room With a View
and various
Sade
George Michael (Cowboys)

In the Musichound Lounge book Steve Knopper is adamant that old style Easy Listening (strings / crooners / bossa) all but disappeared from the US airwaves in the 80s and was replaced by Adult Contemporary like Whitney Houston / Celine Dion / Mariah Carey...

Any help / suggestions would be really appreciated though I'm aware this may not be the board for this kind of thing
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  Comments


  • interesting post. my take is that ezy listening and late jazz fusion melded into one another to create fuzak/elevator music which made dudes like percy faith, hugo montegnegro, james last, etc, etc, etc...sound out-of-date in the 80's...i guess from the 80's there was that dude buster poindexter and lounge lizards but that stuff was tounge-in-cheek right?

    on the vocal end of it, whitney houston, celene dion, mariah, etc. etc.. seems like a straight progression from the anne murrays, the carpenters, the dionne warwicks. the gauzy orchestras and string arrangments replaced bascially by washes of synths

  • batmonbatmon 27,574 Posts
    Good Thread....

    "Proto-Lounge" of the 80's that lead up to what you mentioned.

    And where does that whole Bachelor Pad Lounge Electronica of the 90s Factor in? Or is that the same as EZ?

    I think its kinda hard to lock in what happened in the 90's as having a direct source.

    Swing Out Sister.

  • Dean RDean R 9 Posts
    The person who most aspired to easy listening and lounge and actually name checked it at the time was Jerry Dammers of the Specials. From the second Specials albums onwards his recordings were noticeably drawing on those sorts of records.

    Weller and Talbot talked about making Hammond Instrumental albums of recent pop hits when they were interviewed by Smash Hits in 1983.

    Not so sure about the others, I think Sade and Weekend were coming more directly from the UK Soul / Jazz scenes.

  • GatorToofGatorToof 582 Posts
    Not sure if I'm am getting what you are asking...

    How did the EL music of the mid 40's thru early 70's influence 90's Middle Of the Road?

    How I would answer this is:
    - Lawrence Welk finance the first Ampex tape recorder in LA.
    - In the 50's millions of American tuned in to radio to hear classic, such as Bach, by conductors like Leopold Stokowski.
    - Les Paul invented the solid body electric guitar
    - Elvis covered Big Mama Thorton's 'Hound Dog.'
    - John Gary left Elvis and F. Sinatra for dead, in terms of vocals

    - Motion picture scores

    - crap crap crap :wink:

    - the 90's *motion picture scores*

  • batmonbatmon 27,574 Posts
    Pattrick said:
    I'm looking for artists who were dipping their toes into lite-bossa, EZ flavours in the 80s when it wasn't considered so cool to be 'lounge' for want of a better term. Got some good suggestions from VG+ and good thoughts about how Easy Listening was actually a very post-Punk thing.

    Post- Punk Thing?

    Im under the impression that EZ listening was going on before, through and after Punk.

    Or are you singling out a specific style of Eazy Listening?

  • batmonbatmon 27,574 Posts
    Pattrick said:
    In the Musichound Lounge book Steve Knopper is adamant that old style Easy Listening (strings / crooners / bossa) all but disappeared from the US airwaves in the 80s and was replaced by Adult Contemporary like Whitney Houston / Celine Dion / Mariah Carey...

    On the R&B side if things Anita Baker's Rapture ('86) was Adult Contemporary, Smooth Jazz, Daytime & Quiet Storm Black Radio.

    "Retro Nuevo"
    Soul w/ minor Jazz vocal styling.

  • bassiebassie 11,710 Posts
    batmon said:
    Pattrick said:
    I'm looking for artists who were dipping their toes into lite-bossa, EZ flavours in the 80s when it wasn't considered so cool to be 'lounge' for want of a better term. Got some good suggestions from VG+ and good thoughts about how Easy Listening was actually a very post-Punk thing.

    Post- Punk Thing?

    Im under the impression that EZ listening was going on before, through and after Punk.

    Or are you singling out a specific style of Eazy Listening?

    If so - and I don't know if this is widening the field too much - I would wonder if it is linked to the look-to-the-past/kitsch movement that began in the 80s with John Waters and Lynch's Blue Velvet and continued into in the 90s with Twin Peaks, Jim Jarmusch and even Hal Hartley to a degree. I would add Daniel Clowes' comics to the list.

    Do Scott Walker and Julee Cruise belong in this conversation?

  • GatorToofGatorToof 582 Posts
    Psuedo obscure names do not belong in this conversation because, despite him says 'dippin their toes in,' the question is about artist who spread their influence across a broad range of listeners.

  • batmonbatmon 27,574 Posts
    bassie said:
    batmon said:
    Pattrick said:
    I'm looking for artists who were dipping their toes into lite-bossa, EZ flavours in the 80s when it wasn't considered so cool to be 'lounge' for want of a better term. Got some good suggestions from VG+ and good thoughts about how Easy Listening was actually a very post-Punk thing.

    Post- Punk Thing?

    Im under the impression that EZ listening was going on before, through and after Punk.

    Or are you singling out a specific style of Eazy Listening?

    If so - and I don't know if this is widening the field too much - I would wonder if it is linked to the look-to-the-past/kitsch movement that began in the 80s with John Waters and Lynch's Blue Velvet and continued into in the 90s with Twin Peaks, Jim Jarmusch and even Hal Hartley to a degree. I would add Daniel Clowes' comics to the list.

    Do Scott Walker and Julee Cruise belong in this conversation?

    Isnt the John Waters "look back to the 60's" what alot of folks were doing in the 80's? Maybe w/out the Kitsch element.

    Spinal Tap - Give Me Some Money comes to mind.

  • sticky_dojahsticky_dojah New York City. 2,114 Posts
    Does this fit in somewhere in the discussion?


  • bassiebassie 11,710 Posts
    Yea, I associate Waters more with the 50s-early 60s (Cry Baby, Hairspray, Serial Mom).
    Even fashion-wise, there were 50s/60s influences in the 80s and early 90s.
    As a lay-person, I associate lounge singers, Lawrence Welk and general easy-listening roots to be from the 50s/60s.

  • batmonbatmon 27,574 Posts
    bassie said:
    Yea, I associate Waters more with the 50s-early 60s (Cry Baby, Hairspray, Serial Mom).
    Even fashion-wise, there were 50s/60s influences in the 80s and early 90s.
    As a lay-person, I associate lounge singers, Lawrence Welk and general easy-listening roots to be from the 50s/60s.

    Yeah i would agree w/ the "Lounge Singer" image as that era.

    B/W


  • batmonbatmon 27,574 Posts


    '82

  • mrmatthewmrmatthew 1,574 Posts


    Antena was a french group doing what would become the Stereolab late-90's easy/bossa sound ten years earlier. As i recall, they were on Factory Records..which i think did some more of this type of thing in the 80's, but cant recall the bands.

    These lps have been reissued by Numero and are really great.

  • PattrickPattrick 57 Posts
    Thanks for these replies???some really helpful pointers. Oddly enough the questions raised here are exactly why I???m trying to piece something together as there???s nothing specific on the net right now about what happened and why.

    It would probably be better titled 90s Easy Listening Revival than Scene. It bubbled up and faded quite fast though continues today in the mass of lounge blogs still going (Funky Frolics, Lounge Legends et all)

    In the UK :
    It started to bubble as a localised scene (clubs like Smashing / Blow-Up from the early 90s onwards) but went overground big-style in 1995, though those clubs did not exclusively play Easy, they mixed it with Mod Hammond / OSTs etc. It was all very non-house / Techno and Rave which was massive in early 90s UK.

    By overground I mean the media really sat up and took notice, magazines did loads of articles and the major record companies found gold in their archives. A good example of this is the tiki / exotica designed Ultra-Lounge series from 1996 onwards but there are hundreds of other easy listening comps from the same period (95 onwards) with the words Bachelor / Space Age / Cocktail in the titles. The cool retro style was perfect in so many ways for ??50 man.

    The way I see it presently is that the Revival was a concept of Easy Listening rather specific train spotter retro of one particular period though it did lean heavily 50s wards. Think Exotica / Cocktail / Tiki / Space Age Lounge stylings from the 50s with a twist of 60s Bondesque Mod plus early 70s psychedelia. A mash-up a bit like the Austin Powers movies from 1997.

    In the US :
    It seems there was a swelling of revival / interest earlier with, as someone pointed out, the success of David Johansen???s Buster Poindexter plus lounge cover bands. The angle in the States seems to have been more about Swing to begin with.

    Certainly pre-1995 companies like Rhino were putting out a lot of Swing / Crooner compilations and then it all suddenly went Bachelor Pad / Space Lounge / Cocktail.

  • PattrickPattrick 57 Posts
    batmon said:
    Good Thread....

    "Proto-Lounge" of the 80's that lead up to what you mentioned.

    And where does that whole Bachelor Pad Lounge Electronica of the 90s Factor in? Or is that the same as EZ?

    I think its kinda hard to lock in what happened in the 90's as having a direct source.

    Swing Out Sister.
    Thanks and spot-on. The revival of Easy-styled reissues from the majors that flooded out using the words Bachelor / Cocktail / Lounge etc came after the scene had been featured in the hip music / fashion media of the time i.e The Face (Oct 94) / ID etc.

    I'm interested in what lead up to the scene in the first place. The discovery of Italian library records in the early 90s? DJs playing James Last / Hugo Montenegro etc in their sets? Jazz Dance DJs dropping The Carpenters (Gilles Peterson did), Hip Hoppers sampling Perrey's EVA? There was a big soundtrack collectors scene from the late 80s up to 95 but that focussed manily on Blaxploitation / Thriller / TV Detective themes (Funky Soundtracks) but some of those collectors must have found some 60s Italian OSTs.

    Esquivel's work was repackaged as Space Age Bachelor Pad Music in 94, the same time as Re/Search Incredibly Strange Music featured some Space Age Pop stuff.

  • Vic Godard, The Monochrome Set, and the whole El records thing.....

  • PattrickPattrick 57 Posts
    bassie said:

    If so - and I don't know if this is widening the field too much - I would wonder if it is linked to the look-to-the-past/kitsch movement that began in the 80s with John Waters and Lynch's Blue Velvet and continued into in the 90s with Twin Peaks, Jim Jarmusch and even Hal Hartley to a degree. I would add Daniel Clowes' comics to the list.

    Do Scott Walker and Julee Cruise belong in this conversation?
    That makes great sense and no, it's not widening the field too much. Movies are incredibly influential on style and music . I'm thinking here of the impression The Great Gatsby had on fashion in the early 70s.

    There was a huge retro oldies music thing in the 80s in the UK too. Not directly Easy / Lounge but there was definitely a big 50s cool thing in a similar manner to the film Stand By Me, another example of the 80s obssession with the 50s.
    (I need to find out what year Nick Kamen was taking his trousers off in a laundry! : Brit TV ad related).

    Thanks as that's more to muse over....

  • batmonbatmon 27,574 Posts
    Pattrick said:
    Esquivel's work was repackaged as Space Age Bachelor Pad Music in 94, the same time as Re/Search Incredibly Strange Music featured some Space Age Pop stuff.

    This I specifically remember.

    The Tower Records Annex in the Village had a "Lounge" Section. This was before The Music Sub-Section existed.
    It was a small little area w/ Books on Retro Decorating, Bachelor Pad books, CD featuring old and new music.

    It then jumped off an d I remember HMV having a bonifide Lounge section next to the Dance and Hip Hop.
    I was shopping there one day and this older lady asked me for the Buddha Lounge Series which was very popular at the time.
    I tried to persuade her into avoiding that comp and going a little bit "deeper". She was adamant on getting the "name recognition" cd.

    What lead up to Esquivel being revisited makes me wonder. One event or a culmination?

    Man ur gonna make me dig into my bad 90's Electronica collectron.


    Youve been here right? Space Age Pop

  • batmonbatmon 27,574 Posts
    Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band Late 70's
    Kid Creole and the Coconuts - 80's

  • jamesjames chicago 1,863 Posts
    batmon said:
    Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band Late 70's
    Or their white equivalent, The Blow Monkeys.

    I kid. Though perhaps not entirely.

    Pizzicato 5? I don't know.

    This is a real interesting thread. I don't know that I have a lot to add, but would mention, Pattrick, that the opening chapter of Geoffrey O'Brien's excellent Sonata For Jukebox is all about the late-90s Bacharach revival, and might be worth a quick skim. It's probably a little late-model for the exact phenomenon that you're talking about, but it's got some interesting stuff on how and why the easy-listening vein gets mined in the modern age.

  • skelskel You can't cheat karma 5,028 Posts
    Give me a couple of days, I'll work up sone recollection of the 80s and early 90s scene
    There were a lot of different strands converging, it's dynamic, complex, short-lived

  • jamesjames chicago 1,863 Posts
    batmon said:
    What lead up to Esquivel being revisited makes me wonder. One event or a culmination?
    I don't know whether they were thee thing, but I remember those RE:Search Incredibly Strange Music jernts being talked about a whole lot, and really kinda consolidating and crystallizing the whole exotica/space-age bachelor scene in a way that moved it away from its "funny uncle"/You Live At Home With Your Mom/loser vibes, and making the whole shit more palatable to hipsters looking for something new.

    At a flea market outside of Atlanta sometime in the 90s, I saw some o.g. Esquivel record, but spent my money on the "Keepin' The Faith" twelve-inch instead. I have since lost said twelve-inch, but still regret nothing.

  • JimsterJimster Twilight Zone/ Al Capone/ Rolling Stone/ Eva Perón 6,364 Posts
    I think the time was right.

    Grunge was the new punk and for anyone old enough to know better, what was the grown and sexy way of repping?

    There was a definite Zeitgeist around y'know, respek for all that mid-60s futurist leather & chrome chair, wheel in space, TV-in-a-big-orange-ball furnitureways or all that stuff Greyboy has in his yard. And what are you going to be blasting on your reel-to-reel? Metallica just won't do. Come sundown and the long, Autumnal shadows split your polished wood, man is the in the mood to grab a square scotch decanter, load up some Dionne Warwick and appreciate the arrangements.

    Also a bunch of popular artists were coming through who had grown up around the OG easy listening vibes of their parents and who were citing Bacharach and dem as influences. Look at the Carpenters tribute stuff. It was OK to be Easy again. Better, it was actually cool.

  • DocMcCoyDocMcCoy "Go and laugh in your own country!" 5,921 Posts
    Dean R said:
    Not so sure about the others, I think Sade and Weekend were coming more directly from the UK Soul / Jazz scenes.

    Sade definitely was. Weekend was more post-punk/indie-pop meets jazz - Alison Statton had been in Young Marble Giants, and both Larry Stabbins and Harry Beckett were old stagers of the 60s/70 British jazz scene who Simon Booth took with him when he formed Working Week.

  • batmonbatmon 27,574 Posts
    J i m s t e r said:


    There was a definite Zeitgeist around y'know, respek for all that mid-60s futurist leather & chrome chair, wheel in space, TV-in-a-big-orange-ball furnitureways or all that stuff Greyboy has in his yard. And what are you going to be blasting on your reel-to-reel? Metallica just won't do. Come sundown and the long, Autumnal shadows split your polished wood, man is the in the mood to grab a square scotch decanter, load up some Dionne Warwick and appreciate the arrangements.

    It was OK to be Easy again. Better, it was actually cool.

    This

  • DocMcCoyDocMcCoy "Go and laugh in your own country!" 5,921 Posts
    bassie said:


    Do Scott Walker and Julee Cruise belong in this conversation?

    Yes, esp. Scott Walker. As far as the Brit post-punk thing goes, the compilation Julian Cope did for Zoo in the early 80s, The Godlike Genius Of Scott Walker (probably pretty rare now), was instrumental in putting his name back in front of a generation of kids who may have only known him as that dude their big sister and all her friends dug for a minute during the 60s.

    I think Julee Cruise was (via the Lynch association) more a beneficiary of the post-No Wave/artfag fetishism of Esquivel, Martin Denny and Les Baxter that yer Stereolabs were also briefly connected with.

    I'm expecting there to be a distinct transatlantic division between how and where this Easy Listening Revival concept developed. In the UK, it's rooted in a number of things - post-punk proto-indiepop and the jazz-dance scene, mainly - but the US experience would appear to be somewhat different.

  • DocMcCoyDocMcCoy "Go and laugh in your own country!" 5,921 Posts
    batmon said:
    Swing Out Sister.

    Two-thirds of whom were Andy Connell (ex-A Certain Ratio) and Martin Jackson (ex-Magazine), so there's the post-punk thing once again.

  • DocMcCoyDocMcCoy "Go and laugh in your own country!" 5,921 Posts
    sticky_dojah said:
    Does this fit in somewhere in the discussion?


    Yeah. Matt Bianco was a spin-off of Blue Rondo A La Turk, a much-hyped, short-lived early 80s band fronted by London scenesters like Chris Sullivan and Christos Tolera, backed by a bunch of session players with jazz/latin chops. They just took it in a poppier direction, with half the band eventually leaving to take a more straight-up cocktail jazz route.

  • DocMcCoyDocMcCoy "Go and laugh in your own country!" 5,921 Posts
    batmon said:


    '82

    This is straight-up jazz, though. I remember this used to get bumped by some of the more adventurous jazz-dance DJs bitd.
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