Bright Light City

It’s funny how certain cities and places have specific music so strongly associated with them. It’s even cooler when there’s more than one kind of music that suits a particular city. You can go through New York listening to Talking Heads or Lou Reed, and Los Angeles obviously deserves a good Beach Boys– or Dick Dale-laden soundtrack. Las Vegas, as in many other ways, is unusual.

Casinos beg for The Rat Pack. If it weren’t for Frank, Sammy and Dean, Vegas wouldn’t have the swank mystique it has now. But those original hipsters weren’t the only ones to have rowdy, late-night hullabaloos on the Strip. Louis Prima and Keely Smith spent many long night performing in Vegas, and some of those performances have recently surfaced.

Yeah, Elvis‘ later, fatter days were spent in Vegas, but I’ve always liked The King’s earlier, rockabilly records. Not that I have anything against rhinestone jumpsuits, it’s just not for me. Instead, try something just as weird: Sun Ra. I know, the extraterrestrial bandleader might not seem to be an appropriate substitution for Elvis himself, but just think of how many UFO sightings there are in the Nevada desert. It’s a wonder that it’s taken this long for someone to make the connection.

The soundtracks to the remakes of “Ocean’s Eleven” all feature variations on the classic instrumental, “Caravan.” While the versions in the movies slow the piece down to a slick, jazzy crawl, there are plenty of versions out there that maintain the Gypsy flair of the original.

I can’t say for sure what I’ll be listening to during my trip to Vegas next week, but I’m sure it’ll be koo-koo smooth, babe.

Listen: The Brian Setzer Orchestra – “Caravan” from VaVoom (2000)

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~ by E. on June 22, 2009.

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