Alvino Rey – Swingin’ Fling [Capitol Records, 1958]

Alvino Rey’s 1958 effort, “Swingin’ Fling”, is a thirty-minute collection of standards that were popular during the era – including “How High The Moon” and “Night Train,” among others. The eleven tracks that this album consists of are approximately two or three minutes each.

Frankly, this album is not quite as exciting as some of Alvino Rey’s other releases. It just fails to stand out in a distinctive enough way. Mickey McGowan of the Unknown Museum and one of the collectors featured in RE/Search’s quintessential book, Incredibly Strange Music Vol. 1, said he believes [to paraphrase] that the perfect music can be played in the background without distracting the listener, AND can be played in the foreground without boring the listener. This album is, in my humble opinion, more suited for background listening (while working or relaxing), and is not really meant for an intensive, stimulating musical experience.

Personally, I think Rey’s slightly later album “Ping Pong” (1960) is more interesting than “Swingin’ Fling”. For me personally, at least, “Ping Pong” does a better job at sustaining my focus, and while both albums were stereophonic LPs, “Ping Pong” features greater separation of the channels and a more intricate mix which results in an album that gives the listener more to process.

Now, I think it’s important to say a few words about Alvino Rey, the man himself. He has been a major influence in American music history, but is, more or less, a “no-name” today. Often credited as the father of the electric guitar, his arrangements tend to feature equal parts swinging guitar and traditional orchestration, including quirky, clever and wacky elements that could only have come out of the mid-20th-century. Rey is also the grandfather of two members of the Québécois indie rock band Arcade Fire. While their music is very different (but still great), it lends credence to the idea of musical genes – musicianship runs in families too!

All in all, this is not a bad record, it’s just less enthralling than some of Rey’s other LPs.

Joseph A. Bremson
The Exciting Sounds Project

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