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18 June 2015

Jimmie Haskell And His Orchestra - Count Down! (1959)

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Jimmie Haskell And His Orchestra - 
Count Down! (1959)
Imperial LP-9068
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Tracklist:
A1.Count-Down
A2.Blast Off
A3.Weightless Blues
A4.Rockin' In The Orbit
A5.Starlight
A6.Hydrazine
A7.Moon Mist
B1.We Get Messages
B2.Moonlight Cha Cha Cha
B3.Astrosonic
B4.Venus
B5.Asteroid Hop
B6.Homeward Earth


Jimmie Haskell's "Countdown" is similar in concept to Baxter's "Space Escapade,"
but the music is totally different in its execution. Both albums have original,
lighthearted music and wonderful covers. Both have marvelous, campy front covers,
and fanciful commentary on each selection accompanied by sketches on the back.
The Haskell cover front features an astronaut (who could have come right
from the "Space Escapade" photo set) sitting with one gloved hand on keyboard rocket controls,
and the other holding a small oscilloscope. A countdown is overlaid over the astronaut,
and a rocket is blasting off in one corner of the jacket.
The back of the cover has sketches of bubble-helmeted musicians surrounding the words. But,
whereas Les Baxter utilized a more-or-less standard orchestra,
Haskell features a unique combination of sounds: a mellow 1950s Rock and Roll band
and many excellent electronic effects. The electronic effects are not detailed in the liner notes,
but one of these sounds very much like Paul Tanner's "Electro-Theremin."
The record begins (surprise! surprise!) with a countdown, then rocket engines are heard,
after which drums and guitars are heard along with multiple electronic sound effects. Occasionally,
an echoing or rippling piano, jaunty tenor saxophone, or flute section is also present.
Additionally, Theremin-like, wordless female voices are sometimes used to create a heavenly effect.
The titles, such as "Hydrazine," "Astrosonic," and "Asteroid Hop," fit the music perfectly.
On the final track, "Homeward Earth," a soft and pleasant mood is achieved with mandolin-like electric guitars,
subdued electronic effects, and the heavenly voices; the journey ends with a feeling of peace and satisfaction.

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