René Armand – Cocktail Piano of René Armand with Carlini’s World of Strings [Pye Records, 1970]

René Armand - World of stringsPicture this if you will.

You’re a shoe salesman from somewhere in the Midwest, circa 1962, on a stopover from a Dacron convention at the Ramada Inn a little west of Anonymous, Ohio.

It’s a shade past one in the morning and that Beef Wellington you had in the Hi Ho Restaurant and Grill is resting heavily on your spleen. You figure a Mai Tai and some bar snacks might be in order, as Pay-per-View porn hasn’t been invented yet, so you head down to the Wai-Tiki-a-Liki Lounge to unwind.

You slide into a booth and praise your Stay-Prest slacks for their comfort as the spiffy little waitress wiggles on over with your drink and a tray of olives and peanuts. A slow rain begins to fall outside.

You think you can hear the rain actually tinkling against the window, a gentle gem of a sound that’s so soothing, so bland, so very white that you’re almost tempted to get up and go outside for a spell.

But you freeze mid-movement as someone catches your eye.

He’s dressed in an orange tuxedo so bright that you think Vegas may have thrown up on him, but then you realise that’s nothing compared to the neon tangerine of his skin against the pearly whites of his teeth. The very teeth he’s now flashing at you in a perma-grin.

The piano man.

You hadn’t noticed him when you first glided over the shag carpeting, but there he is, larger than life, tickling those ivories like they were babies’ toes. He caresses standards into Velveeta cheese and teases pop tunes into whipped cream.

Did you take a Quaalude before coming downstairs? You don’t remember. Everything is so fuzzy now, like you’re in a beige vacuum. You glance at the poster on the wall – “Cocktail Piano of René Armand”. You nod slowly.

You wonder what the 21st century will be like. And then you slip into a coma.


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