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The Surfmen

The closest thing in exotica to a super group. 101 Strings creator and Somerset label chief D.L. Miller, acting on his always-reliable trend-following instincts, pulled together a group of top Hollywood session men, including Jack "Mr. Bongo" Constanzo, Alvino Rey on console guitar, Irv Cottler on drums, Emil Richards on vibes, the late great Jimmy Rowles on piano, and Paul Horn on sax (who would later record in such authentically exotic settings as the Pyramids and the Taj Mahal). He gave them the task of producing a quickie knock-off of the then-popular Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman sound.

They appear to have taken on the challenge with enthusiasm, taking more than a few opportunities to poke fun at Denny/Lyman trademarks like bird calls (the Surfmen's are possibly the phoniest ever put on vinyl) and savage jungle noises. Their material reads like a primer of exotica music: "Quiet Village"; "Taboo"; Moon of Manakoora; "Hawaiian War Chant"; Fire Goddess; Orchid Lagoon; Jungle Romance; Bali Hai.

The Surfmen recorded two albums' worth of tunes for Miller, who subsequently released it in a variety of different packages. Exotic Island is the first and easiest to spot, and given its title and cover, probably the one most likely to be marked up by record dealers. Tradewinds is a suitable substitute and probably cheaper, since it's often stuck in the bargain bin with the rest of the Hawaiian music albums.


  • Exotic Island, Somerset SF-15100
  • Reissued as The South Sea Serenaders, Tradewinds: Romance from Hawaii to Tahiti, Somerset SF-25100
  • The Surfmen in Hawaii, Somerset SF-171000
  • Also released as The Romantic Lure of Hawaii, Somerset SF-17100

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