Ultra-Lounge is a series of compilation CDs released by Capitol Records, featuring music predominantly from the 1950s and 1960s in genres such as exotica, space age pop, mambo, television theme songs, and lounge. Many of the volumes have since been made available for purchase via digital download. Each CD featured detailed liner notes along with two related drink recipes, tips on how to serve drinks to guests, and often photographs of sculptures made out of bartender items and other objects.
John Scofield owes a great deal to Medeski, Martin & Wood for the success of A Go Go. The piano/organ, bass, and drum playing trio adds a world of bouncing vibes to Scofield's inquisitive, happy guitar work here. A Go Go is an album of mostly breezy, sometimes tense, jam-based grooves. The album's charm is in its "city meets the tropics" feel. The four players create such a warm, vibrant sound that resisting the urge to tap one's feet along with the beat becomes a near impossibility. The opening song is a treat of plucked guitars and tightly packed new jazz. Other standouts are "Kubrick," a swooning, gentle change of pace packed with background tension, and "Hottentot," a tour de force of dynamic interplay. There's nary a moment of filler to be found across the ten tracks..
Though it may seem unlikely that Frank Zappa had much of an influence on the work of Lalo Schifrin, one can detect some cultural crossover on There's a Whole Lalo Schifrin Goin' On. Schifrin was as much a jazz-pop genius as ever, but on this album rock rhythms, musical satire, sound effects, and exotica are all used as camp in a way that is eerily reminiscent of Zappa's more thoughtful efforts. Schifrin being Schifrin, every cut has a distinct and catchy melody, but there are whimsical and satirical themes embedded in the music. Nowhere is this more obvious than in "Hawks Vs. Doves," in which a cheery carnival-like theme is played in counterpoint to a martial air, each interfering with the other.
Though its title track ignited a nationwide fad for go-go music, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles' Going to a Go-Go LP certainly wasn't just a cash-in effort. It's one of the best records the group put out, and the first six songs make for the best side of any original Motown LP of the '60s (granted, all but one are also available on dozens of Miracles compilations). The four biggest hits were among the best in a set of Miracles archetypes: the throwback to the aching '50s doo wop ballad ("Ooo Baby, Baby"), the flashy up-tempo dance song ("Going to a Go-Go"), the dancing-with-tears-in-my-eyes jerker ("The Tracks of My Tears"), and the mid-tempo orchestral epic ("My Girl Has Gone"). "Choosey Beggar" is one of the sweetest of all Robinson's lead vocals, with stunning background work by the rest of the Miracles.
The success of the Austin Powers movies rekindled an interest in everything groovy, swinging and mod. The Instro Hipsters a Go-Go responded in kind, serving up fun but mostly forgotten instrumentals from the '60s and early '70s that sound equally good in a bachelor pad or discotheque. Instro Hipsters a Go-Go, Vol. 3 is a Wall of Sound made up of twangy surf guitars, tumbling drums, flourishes of strings and brass, and funky organs, especially on classic instrumentals like "Cherokee" and "Raunchy," which have been given mod makeovers here by the Mitch Murray Clan and the Ray McVay Sound. Harry Stoneham's "Mogul/I Spy/The Avengers" nods to the spy movie and TV show fetish of the time, while Shocking Blue's "Ackla Ragh"'s trippy sitars allude to the '60s and '70s fascination with Indian music. Though it's more eclectic than some other volumes in this series, this collection makes for very entertaining mood music that still conjures up this swinging, stylish era.