Album Spotlight focuses on a specific (usually vintage) album. Album Spotlights will pop-up randomly. There might be another Spotlight next month or six months from now. Like the Spanish Inquisition, no one expects the Album Spotlight!

My Space Escapade LP. Photo by Peter Skiera.

Space Escapade, Les Baxter: Capitol Records, ST-968, Stereo, 1958

The first Album Spotlight was The Golddiggers’ We Need a Little Christmas LP from1969. This edition goes in a completely different direction and turns the spotlight on Les Baxter’s Space Escapade from 1958, a classic space age pop album. And be sure to read all the way through to the fun contest at the end.

Space Babes

Space Escapade may not have been the first album in the unique space age music genre, but without a doubt it had the best cover. It depicted what your average, mid-century bachelor envisioned when fantasizing about visiting a faraway planet…enjoying a dry ice-based adult beverage with attractive, brightly-colored female aliens with springs on their heads (note the silhouette of a phallic-like rocket in the background). I’m not sure why the aliens didn’t use memory foam on their heads instead of springs. Incidentally, if you look closely at the jovial astronaut in the green suit, it looks like he has his own rocket in his pocket! How fortunate the astronauts were to have generous openings in their fish bowl helmets to be able to savor the foreign concoctions prepared in their honor. The album cover alone has made this record quite desirable amongst collectors.

One Small Step For Man

It was probably no coincidence that Space Escapade was released a year after Russia’s Sputnik satellite launch in 1957. Another decade would pass before an astronaut stepped foot on the moon. Like the front cover, Baxter’s compositions paint an overall positive landscape of outer space. But before we get ahead of ourselves by going into deep space exploration on Space Escapade, let’s first explore the man behind the music.

The iconic Capitol Records building in Los Angeles. Photo licensed from

Baxter Biography

Leslie Thompson Baxter was born in Mexia, Texas in 1922, 100 years ago this month. He started playing piano at age 5. He took courses at the Detroit Conservatory and Pepperdine University. In 1945 he joined the Mel-Tones, Mel Torme’s singing group. He eventually quit the group to work for NBC Radio, conducting music for the Abbott and Costello and Bob Hope radio programs. In 1950, Baxter left radio behind to arrange and conduct music at Capitol Records for recordings by Nat King Cole, Margaret Whiting, and Frank Sinatra. Not a bad gig.

Baxter turned to crafting music for films in 1962, scoring at least 8 movies (some cite as many as 100) for American International Pictures, including The Pit and the Pendulum and Beach Blanket Bingo. Some websites claim he composed music for over 250 films in total.

My Music Out of The Moon CD. Photo by Peter Skiera.

Music Out of The Moon, Baxter’s first album, launched (if you will pardon the pun) the space age music genre. According to, astronaut Neil Armstrong actually brought a cassette recording of the album with him on Apollo 11 in 1969! The record featured a choir, a rhythm section, a cello, a French horn, and a theremin. That’s it. For 1947 it truly was out of this world and is quite probably the best-selling theremin album ever.

A year later, Baxter’s Ritual of The Savage brought us back down to earth…to the jungle to be more specific. The music incorporated bird calls and assorted jungle sounds. As his Music Out of The Moon ushered in space age music, Ritual gave birth to the exotica genre.

The composer was not without hits. Unchained Melody and The Poor People of Paris each sold over a million copies, the former earning gold record status. He also composed Quiet Village which became a huge hit for Martin Denny in 1959.

Baxter died from a massive heart attack on January 15, 1996 in Newport Beach, CA at the age of 73. He has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The classic Capitol “rainbow” record label of the late 1950’s-1960’s. Photo by Peter Skiera.

Highly Rated

With about 70 titles in his discography, I was spoiled for choice when it came to picking a Baxter album for this Album Spotlight. Yet from the very start there was never any doubt in my mind that my focus would be on Space Escapade. called the album “a definitive slice of lounge/bachelor pad music” containing compositions that “shows off Baxter’s chops as a big-band leader.”

Space Escapade is rated 4.5 stars on Amazon with one reviewer calling the album, “an American classic, to be revered and cherished. Thank goodness that we have the recordings of the wonderful Les Baxter for letting us explore his, and our, musical dreamscapes.” Another fan wrote, “All of a sudden that sound really fascinated me. It sounds so pretty and so fresh today, it shows how Les Baxter fifties’ songs were ahead of time.”

YouTube has equally favorable comments. “I am one of those who remember my parent’s Friday and/or Saturday nights, full of this music”, one person wrote. “Mostly at the beach house, sometimes in the rec. room. It mostly served as background music. Never danced too, but played to impress. Who had the best stereo. Listening again, eavesdropping on the stairs, I’m a seven year old kid again.” Another Space Escapade owner wrote, “My co-workers can only guess why I smile on a Monday morning at the computer with my ear buds in. Pure ear candy. If that first cut doesn’t put a smile on your face, check for a pulse!”

“…enjoying a dry ice-based adult beverage with attractive, brightly-colored female aliens with springs on their heads.”

Capitol Records’ stereo FAQs. Photo by Peter Skiera.

What Is This “Stereo” Thing?

Turning the Spotlight back to the classic front cover, there were actually four variants of the cover. One might expect slightly different covers to indicate mono and stereo, but the stereo recording alone had 3 versions of the front cover. All three have white bands at the top of varying sizes promoting stereo, but one cover adds a round color Capitol logo in the photo, an inexcusable distraction from the artwork.

Why release a record in both mono and stereo? Actually, this wasn’t unusual for 1958 when stereo recordings were new to the consumer. Many people still owned monophonic hi-fi systems, bought mono records, and listened to mono AM radio at home and in their car. Stereo was so new that Capitol felt the need to dedicate one side of the record’s inner paper sleeve to educate the record owner about two-channel stereo.  Example: “What is a stereo record? This stereo record recreates the needed perspective. Sounds are recorded from two points of view and, ultimately, engraved one on each side of the groove. Thus, the stereo record, when properly played, gives a realistic ‘display’ of sound.” I cannot imagine experiencing Space Escapade any other way. My stereo copy of Space Escapade came with the original paper sleeve in excellent condition, which I find amazing considering the album is over 60 years old.

Unsolved Mystery

Ranking right up there with the Hindenburg disaster, Jack the Ripper, and the Roswell UFO crash, is the equally stubborn question worthy of a Robert Stack voice over– Whom created Space Escapade’s incredible front cover? With my detective’s fedora positioned at a jaunty angle, I tracked down singer/songwriter/guitarist/composer/producer/band leader (whew!) and Les Baxter protégé and friend, Skip Heller, in an attempt to solve this enduring riddle. “Prior to their move to the Tower” (the 13-story building made to resemble a stack of records), Heller wrote me in an email, “Capitol [Records] didn’t maintain a full-time art and design department, so outside illustrators and designers did the covers, and they were very often credited. In Les’ case, William George — known for pulp paperback covers in the fifties — did the art for Ritual Of The Savage and Tamboo. But from 1957 on, Capitol had everything but pressing generated from the Tower, including all the art stuff, and rarely if ever with a note on who did the art or who posed for it. When I asked Les about album covers”, Heller continued, “he didn’t really remember anything about it, unless he himself was in the photo. He did mention to me once he thought that the cover of Space Escapade was very amusing, but that maybe it distracted people from some of his better writing on that record, especially The City and Moonscape. I had the pleasure of hearing him play each of those solo, at the piano.”

Despite my best efforts it would seem the mystery of whomever was responsible for Space Escapade’s orgasmic front cover will remain unsolved. Apologies to the late Robert Stack.

Space Escapade’s backside. Photo by Peter Skiera.

Baxter’s Backside

Flipping the cover around reveals Disney animator J.P. Miller’s illustrations. The romantic liner notes below and to the right of the images tease the listener: “We can close our eyes and dream of the future, wondering whether a starlit planet might soon replace a tropical island, the Riviera, or a distant mountain lodge as the ideal spot for a romantic holiday. Or, with the aid of this stereo recording, we can drift into the future’s lovemist with Les Baxter and make a spaceliner escapade by earthlight…” My bags are packed.

In addition to the notes and Miller’s monochrome sketches, the back cover includes delightful descriptions of each track, as if they were excerpts lifted from a space travel brochure. “On our first visit to a planet, we arrive in the midst of Martian Gras”, begins the description of Mr. Robot. I guess that explains the front cover. The Commuter provides a glimpse into the future of morning rush hour…”Jetmobiles roar through early Solar City traffic. Their frenzied speed gives rise to vertigo, until we realize that crashes are now extinct, with electric fields keeping travelers safely at arm’s length.” Hmmm…Baxter predicted blind spot and lane departure warnings sixty years before they were invented.

Now Playing

Some of Baxter’s music has found its way into recent major motion pictures and TV. In the Oscar-winning Matt Damon film, Ford vs. Ferrari, the first track off of Space EscapadeShooting Star, is featured. Lunar Rhapsody from Music Out of The Moon is featured in First Man, a movie about Neil Armstrong. Amazon Prime’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel features Baxter’s #1 hit Unchained Melody in season 3, episode 18.

No doubt Baxter would be tickled pink as an alien with a spring on his head to know that a whole new generation of music lovers are discovering his body of work and taking Space Escapade for repeated round trip listens. Fuel up your turntable, buckle yourself into your BarcaLounger, and prepare for liftoff. The female aliens with springs on their heads anxiously await your arrival.

Trivia: In 1954, Les Baxter composed the theme song to the TV show “Lassie”. In the latter years of his career he composed music for theme parks like Sea World.

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Photo by Peter Skiera.

Email me at with a clever caption for this vintage album cover (nothing X-Rated, please) and include your full name, complete shipping address with zip code, and valid email address so you can be notified if you win. I will pick the best caption and announce it on 3/21/22 on this website. The winner will receive one set of IN20 earbuds courtesy of thinksound, makers of headphones and earbuds with a level of sound quality, fit and finish unrivaled in their class. Head-Fi called the IN20 “a jukebox in your ears. It is as close to that warm musical full-bodied sound as you’re gonna get.” My sincere thanks to Aaron Fournier and for this excellent prize.

Thinksound’s IN20 earbuds.

IN20 specifications:

  • Voiced by acclaimed audio engineer, Aaron Fournier 
  • Compatible with iOS and Android (Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter is required for most Apple devices).
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  • 96 ±3dB @ 1KHz 1mW sensitivity
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  • Four pairs of silicone ear tips and one pair of foam tips
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  • Retails for $149.99 USD
  • Learn more at

Contest Rules at A Glance:

  1. One entry per person.
  2. Entry is limited to the USA only.
  3. Must be 18 or older to enter.
  4. By entering, you agree to receive emails from
  5. No employees of or or their immediate relatives may enter the contest.
  6. The prize may be substituted should it no longer be available. Winner may not request a substitution or cash or credit.
  7. The contest will run from 3/1/22 to 3/17/22.
  8. One winner shall be chosen. Said winner will be notified by email by/on March 18, 2022 and must acknowledge within 48 hours. The winner will be announced on by/on March 21, 2022.
  9. If the winner cannot be reached or refuses the prize, an alternate winner shall be selected.
  10. The winner will be responsible for all taxes, if any.
  11. No purchase necessary. Making a thinksound purchase or being/becoming a Recommended Stations Patreon supporter won’t increase your chances of winning.
  12. Prize will be shipped standard mail/economy/ground at no charge within the USA only.
  • If you want the full contest legal mumbo-jumbo, see below.

“LP Caption Contest”

1. Sponsor: (the “Sponsor”).

2. How to Enter: The LP Caption Contest (the “Contest”) starts at 10:00 A.M. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on March 1, 2022 and ends at 7:00 P.M. EST on March 17, 2022 (the “Contest Entry Period”). To enter, send an email with your record cover caption to Limit one (1) caption submission per person during the Contest Entry Period. By sending an email, you agree that your email and caption conforms to these Official Rules and that the Sponsor, in their sole discretion, may disqualify you for any reason at any time, including if they determine, at their sole discretion, that your email fails to conform to these Official Rules in any way or otherwise contains unacceptable content as determined by the Sponsors.

By participating, entrant agrees to receive emails from Entrants will have the option to unsubscribe from such emails at any time.

3. Eligibility: No Automated Entries. You must fill send an email without the use of any automated promotion entry filling services or form filling services. The use of any automated, programmed, robotic or similar system to enter is prohibited and will result in disqualification. Other methods of voting will not be accepted. Employees, directors, and/or officers (including immediate family members or members of the household) of Sponsor, they’re subsidiaries, affiliated companies, distributors, advertising, fulfillment and promotion agencies and all other companies or entities associated with the Contest are not eligible to participate. Entrant must reside within the USA. Shipment of prize is within the USA only. This Sweepstakes is void where prohibited or restricted by law. Participation constitutes entrant’s full and unconditional agreement and acceptance of these Official Rules which shall be final in all respects.

4. Award: The winning caption will be decided on 3/18/2022 and announced on 3/21/2022. Winner may not substitute, assign or transfer prize or redeem prize for cash but Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to substitute a prize with one of comparable or greater value. Winner is responsible for any applicable federal, state, and local taxes, if any, as well as any other costs and expenses associated with the prize receipt and/or use not specified herein as being provided. All prize details are at the Sponsor’s sole discretion.

5. Determination and Awarding of Prize; Verification of Winner: Emails will be accepted from 3/1/2022 to 3/17/2022. Emails received after the 17th will not be accepted. Sponsor will select one (1) potential winner (“Potential Winner”) on or about March 18, 2022 determined to have the best caption. The potential winner will be notified on or about March 18, 2022 via email. If the Potential Winner cannot be contacted, does not acknowledge within 48 hours, or refuses their award for any reason, that Potential Winner forfeits their award and an alternate caption will be selected as the Potential Winner by the Sponsor.

6. Disclaimer:’s LP Caption Contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Furthermore, neither Facebook nor Twitter nor Instagram is responsible for any issues related to this contest. Accepting these terms indicates a complete release of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by each entrant or participant.

7. Limitation of Liability: By entering this LP Caption Contest, all entrants agree to comply with these Official Rules. By entering this Contest, voters agree that the Sponsor shall have no liability and shall be held harmless for any damage, loss or liability to person or property, due in whole or part, directly or indirectly, by reason of the acceptance, use or misuse of the prize or participation in this Contest. Sponsor and their advertising and promotion agencies are not responsible for lost, late, garbled, delayed, destroyed, inaccurate, misdirected or stolen entries or transmissions, or problems of any kind whether mechanical, human or electronic. Sponsors are not responsible for technical, hardware, software or telephone failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connections, fraud, incomplete, garbled or delayed computer transmissions, whether caused by Sponsor, entrants or by any of the equipment or programming associated with or utilized in the Contest or by any technical or human error which may occur in the processing of entries which may damage a user’s computer or system or limit a entrant’s ability to participate in the Contest. Sponsor may prohibit any person from participating in the Contest or a station winning the prize if, in its sole discretion, it determines that such entrant is attempting to undermine the legitimate operation of the Contest by cheating, hacking, deception, or other unfair playing practices or intending to annoy, abuse, or threaten any other entrants or Sponsor’s representatives. In the event of a dispute regarding captions received from multiple users having the same e-mail account, the authorized subscriber of the e-mail account at the time of entry will be deemed to be the entrant and must comply with these Official Rules.

These terms and conditions shall be governed by, construed, and enforced in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, United States of America, without regard to any choice of law principles. Entrant hereby agrees and irrevocably consents to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction and venue of the courts of the State of MA and of the United States of America located in the State of MA USA, for any and all claims arising from or related to this Agreement. Entrant agrees that all claims relating to this LP Caption Contest shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action.

Should an entrant engage in fraud or misconduct of any nature, including but not limited to a violation of the Official Rules, such entrant shall be subject to immediate disqualification. Sponsor reserves the right to terminate, modify or amend the Sweepstakes at any time if the fairness, integrity, and or proper administration of the Contest is jeopardized. IN NO EVENT SHALL SPONSOR BE LIABLE TO ENTRANT FOR ANY LOST PROFITS, OR FOR ANY SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL OR OTHER INDIRECT DAMAGES ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THIS CONTEST. Entrant’s sole damages shall be limited to voter’s actual out of pocket expenses, excluding attorneys’ fees. WITHOUT LIMITING THE GENERALITY OF THE FOREGOING, SUCH PRIZES ARE PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AND SWEEPSTAKES ENTITIES HEREBY DISCLAIM ALL SUCH WARRANTIES, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSES AND/OR NON-INFRINGEMENT.

If you read all of that then you deserve to fix yourself a dry ice-based adult beverage.