Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Among devotees of exotica music and tiki culture, vibraphonist Gene Rains is one of the Big Three of exotica – Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman being the other two. (Though Les Baxter had some notable releases in the genre, exotica was not his primary focus, so he isn’t generally considered in the same league as the Big Three). Yet, while Denny and Lyman have seen their entire album catalogs come out on CD, and many collections compiled of their work, to date Gene Rains has remained a true cult figure, with NONE of his albums released on compact disc. Part of the reason for that is because the man himself is a bit of a mystery. Little is known of Rains beyond the fact that popular Hawaiian crooner Alfred Apaka discovered him and recruited the vibraphonist and his group to play at the Hawaiian Village Hotel in Waikiki. Nevertheless, in the early ’60s, Rains recorded three albums for Decca—Lotus Land, Far Across the Sea and Rains in the Tropics (a fourth, The Call of the Tropics, released on the Vocalion label, was a compilation of tracks from the three Decca albums)—that are considered models of the exotica genre and cost a pretty penny if you can find them. Now, with its release of Far Away Lands—The Exotic Music of Gene Rains on CD, Real Gone Music is restoring Rains to his rightful place in the exotica pantheon. The compilation—sporting a picture of MeduSirena the Fire-Eating Mermaid on the front cover—features key tracks (plus the original cover art) from all three of Rains’ Decca albums, with liner notes by the CD’s compiler, Randy Poe, and with art and sound assistance from exotica expert Mark Riddle (a/k/a DigiTiki), the man behind the popular podcast, “The Quiet Village.” A lot of folks have been waiting a long time for this music to come out on CD, so light a tiki torch, don a Hawaiian shirt, and prepare to be transported by the sound of Rains.

1. Hana Maui/Harbor Lights/Ringo Oiwake/Lotus Land/Africa
. Jungle Drums
3. Far Across the Sea
4. Love Theme from the World of Suzie Wong
5. Strange Cargo
6. Sayonara
7. Caravan
8. Bangkok Cockfight
9. Tiki
10. Song of Delilah
11. Mapuana
12. Soshu Night Serenade
13. Lonely Winter
14. Flamingo
15. Jasmine and Jade

Tracks 1-2 from Lotus Land
Tracks 3-7 from Far Across the Sea
Tracks 8-15 from Rains in the Tropics

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