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Hits That Never Die

June 09, 1995|ROBIN RAUZI

Frequenting the cocktail lounges in your neighborhood is a good start, but what to do when you get back to your bache lor/bachelorette pad? Dust off your turntable.

The best--and cheapest--way to amass a good lounge music collection is by rummaging through bins of 50-cent records at garage sales and thrift stores, says collector Kevin "Mr. Fabulous" Trantow. The up-and-coming hepcat can afford to take musical risks at that rate. If it's got a glamorous girl in an exotic locale on the record jacket, it's probably worth a 33-rpm spin.

Trantow, 29, started his collection in the mid-'80s by rescuing his mother's records from a garage sale. "I'd been listening to a steady diet of rock 'n' rap," Trantow says. "To me, this was totally new. And in the Valley, it was everywhere. The Valley was so suburban, everyone had these records and they were all getting rid of them."

Trantow's collection now numbers in the hundreds--he hasn't counted--and fills half of the closet in his Sherman Oaks home

For those who refuse to abandon 1990s technology, some of the most essential recordings have been reissued on CD. The following are recommended by Trantow, Sam (Mogul-in-Training) Wick and Marc (Senor Amor) Gordon:

* "Incredibly Strange Music" Vols. I & II--The compact disc companions to the Re/Search books set. Released in 1993 and 1995, they contain a variety of artists from Les Baxter to Hot Butter.

* "Exotica: The Best of Martin Denny"--Re-released in 1990 by Rhino Records, this is a collection of Denny's songs recorded from 1957-59.

* "Space Age Bachelor Pad Music"--Juan Garcia Esquivel. This 1960s Mexican pop reissue from Bar/None sold more than 20,000 copies last year. Also keep an eye out for the recently re-released "Music for a Sparkling Planet."

* "I, Swinger"--By Combustible Edison. Front man "The Millionaire" is the self-declared host for the developing Cocktail Nation. The 1994 recording from Sub Pop records is a must-have.

* "Louis Prima: The Capitol Collectors Series"--The 1991 reissue has the original "Just a Gigolo"/"I Ain't Got Nobody" medley and songs with guest artist Keeley Smith.

* "Darin at the Copa"--This 1960 live recording of Bobby Darin has been digitally re-mastered by Atlantic. What collection is complete without "Dream Lover"?

* "Whipped Cream and Other Delights"--A 1965 album by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass available on CD from A&M Records.

* "Mondo Mambo: The Best of Perez Prado"--Just out this year from Rhino records, more mambos than you can shake your hips at, recorded between 1952 and 1962.

* "Stan Getz/Joao Gilberto"--The 1963 album that contained the hit version of "Girl From Ipanema" recorded with Astrud Gilberto is out on CD from Mobile Fidelity Ultradisc.

* "Henry Mancini's All-Time Greatest Hits, Volume One"--No lounge collection is complete without something by Mancini, and this RCA album has all the theme-song essentials.

If that doesn't have you feeling fabulous, you can pick up "Living Lounge: The Fabulous Sounds of Now," from Continuum Creations, a compilation of contemporary Lounge bands, including Love Jones and Useless Playboys. Or try to find the elusive "The Las Vegas Grind" collection of classic lounge recordings from Crypt records.

Still swingin'? Try a good dose of greatest hits albums: "The Complete Tom Jones," "Don Ho's Greatest Hits," and your pick of the 100 or so Frank Sinatra compilations. Or, if you're feeling adventurous, go in search of some out-of-print vinyl, like "Discotheque" by Enoch Light, "Taboo" by Arthur Lyman and "Rainforest" by Walter Wanderly.

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